Editor's Note: Learn from a panel of experts and entrepreneurs who have successfully financed their own ventures and are helping others do it at the Thought Leaders Live 2013 event May 29, in Long Beach, Calif. Event and ticket information can be found here.
Marketing isn't just an expense; it's an investment. As an accountant, I often see businesses spending an incredible amount of money on marketing with very little return. The key is to market smarter and fully utilize your marketing budget.
Throwing money at high-dollar advertising venues doesn't provide an automatic customer base. Consistency is the key to any marketing program and to do that, businesses need to know how to stretch their limited amount of funds. Here are 7 ways to stretch your marketing dollars and increase your bottom-line profits:
1. Use free publicity. It costs you nothing and builds credibility and awareness. So look for opportunities to be involved with community activities.
2. Speak at local organizations. Every organization is looking for speakers for their monthly meetings, so offer to share your knowledge with them. You'll get exposure to groups as an expert and meet lots of new people who might be potential clients.
3. Write articles for newsletters, newspapers, industry journals and your own website. Sharing information builds name recognition, which helps bring in clients.
4. Create a website. Websites are a must. You're missing a great opportunity if your business doesn't have a presence on the web. It's a very cost-effective way of letting people know about you and your products and services.
5. Partner with others. Look for businesses with complementary services to create cooperative advertising campaigns so that you have a pool of dollars.
6. Look at ways that you can get more involved in the organizations you already work with. This helps build your name recognition by being involved on committees.
7. Networking is the most effective way to meet people. People like to do business with others they know. Networking takes very few dollars, but it does take a time commitment because you must be consistent in your networking efforts.
Marketing is an important part of any business operation. The challenge is finding cost-effective ways to get your name out without going over your allotted budget. Strategic planning is important so that you have a purpose with each marketing dollar you spend. Some people will just randomly select marketing activities, which is a huge waste of dollars. Creating a marketing plan that incorporates the above seven tips will help you have a focus and a variety of venues to reach existing and potential clients and keep your financial picture on track.