Gotta spend money to make money! There’s some truth to it I suppose, but there’s no need to spend as much as possible on marketing. In fact, I’ll bet that if you read this blog and actually try it out in your company, you’ll be freeing up some budget. Funds you could be spending on research, implementing some addition marketing, or maybe a fun company activity for morale!
So, where to start? Here are some areas I decreased costs significantly:
The low-hanging fruit: all your printed materials. Chances are are pretty high that you’re not printing these yourself so start. By having a look at how much you spent on printing last year, you’ll get a pretty good feeling of how much you can save here.
1. Use an online printer
These are usually high-quality but reduce overhead significantly by operating centrally for larger regions than local printers, hence offering much lower prices. Keep in mind that delivery times are usually coupled to pricing, so plan well. Also, make sure you files are print-ready because this kind of printing is mostly continuous manufacturing, meaning an extra check is recommended.
2. Create an A5 sized folded folder of your company brochure
This might seem like a waste of time but you’ll find that at conference handin out a bunch of these instead of large multi-page brochures will reduce costs with about 75% a piece. As an example: a simple 6 A4 page fullcolour brochure once folded (4-6 euros) vs a once folded 2 A5 page full colour (1-1.5).
Another advantage of the A5 is that it forces your messaging to be succinct. The era of marketing book works is over and no one is going to sit down on the couch to review your promotional material; they put on Netflix. So, see it as an opportunity to work on your value proposition.
3. Reduce your material
Less is more. And certainly less costly.
You’ll often find old materials being reprinted, taken along to conferences to be left behind, or simply squandered. A periodical review of your promotional materials will allow you to define which are actually actively used by sales. Lose the rest please.
4. Turn a costly print into a follow-up action
What’s better? Hoping a brochure you hand out will magically turn into a lead or creating the opportunity to get into mail contact with someone after a conference? Don’t worry that it might come across as cheap and if you do try the A5 sized folder for your company summary and follow up with more specific information later.
This will also allow you to do some research first and enable you to sketch an actual case of how you might benefit a prospect to send along with you full information.
If you ask a web developer to make you a website expect a quote that seems to rely on the fact that you have a huge budget. Digging a little bit into what you actually need combined with clear communication can quickly reduce quotes like these though. And, of course, give it a go yourself!
5. Design a website with the goal in mind
Before you even start asking around for a quote or thinking about cool elements to put into your website, get a clear picture of what you want from it. Is it going to be acting as a simple digital business card? Is it going to be service-based combined with a blog to show your expertise? Or is it going to be product-based with the possibility of ordering in your webshop? Get a clear picture with the end in mind to prevent hiccups later.
6. Make your own website
There are plenty of options to start building your own website today like Wordpress, Joomla, and Wix. What they all have in common is that they’re ‘visual website builders’, meaning you dont need any real coding experience.
7. Learn the basics of coding
If you are getting a website built for you by a developer who is customizing it for you, chances are it’s based on Wordpress or Joomla. By getting familiar with the basics of coding and the way a Content Management System (QMS) you’ll enable yourself to make edits at your own convenience or even copy and repurpose entire pages. It will save you about 2-3 hours of outsourced work every time.
8. Go local
Getting a local developer will ease the process because you speak the same language which is important because you have to explain what you want and why you want it. Besides this, local usually means smaller, which means, less overhead and thus lower cost. And more dedication and a personal touch in my opinion.
Conferences can be so very very expensive adn it's no surprise that participation is often debated a lot within companies. But I've found that except from exhibition costs you can c=really make a difference here if you're willing to put in a little extra effort.
9. Drive the stuff there
Based on my experience, it really cuts costs to drive to you destination if its within 8-9 hours. A prerequisite is that you love a good road trip.
The equation holds up if you have a standard booth package or case with some boxes for goodies and brochures and have access to a company car. From what I’ve seen so far is that shipping is 1000 euros or more and there’s usually also handling and storage costs of about 300 euros involved from the conference center. If you’re shipping you’re also flying and tickets + taxi fares are probably about 300.
So, that’s 1500 vs 350 250 for 2 extra overnight stays and 100 for gas). I call that easy money saving. And there will be nay-sayers because you’re also losing some extra time but going to the airport also takes time.
10. Dont use conference premium wifi
It’s a scam. Who in their right mind pays 200-300 for special wifi..? Most of the time the open wifi is just fine and you can always use your phone’s personal hotspot as a backup.
Reduce the costs of your overnight stays by using Airbnb or at least offering the possibility to your staff. I think there’s only a handful of people who really enjoy business hotels and especially the younger generation will appreciate the ability to choose for themselves. Your gain? Its usually cheaper.
12. Do a trial version
Most of the time confernences recur every year or sooner. So, if you're not entirely sure participation with an exhibiting option is a viable option.. don't do it. Send a regular delegate to investigate if this good be a good match. And if there's partnering involved, read this blog.
As a startup or small company you will be forgiven if you make some mistakes here and there. Also, it's common to take some time to work on developing your brand into something you like. Instead of asking a professional agency to do everything for you, give it a go. It's actually kind of fun!
13. Get jiggy in PPT
It feels like Powerpoint never really gets the glory it deserves but if you stick to a simple and clean design it will get you a long way. Just google awesome designs in powerpoint and you’ll see for yourself you might want to give it another chance.
14. Get a license on Illustrator or use Canva for free
If you want to go the extra mile or make your life easier get a license of illustrator or make use of Canva. Both offer additional functionality for you to enjoy.
On top of that getting an Illustrator license allows you to export in all kinds of formats. This comes in handy because we all know the moment where someone asks you for a format you didn’t even know existed. Instead of spending 75 euros on a developer spend it on your license of about 120 euros instead.
15. Ask your designer for visual elements
If your designer creates something for you, ask for the separate elements in different file types. These might be helpful when you create a design of your own.
The beating heart of your website if you're planning to attract people to your website! It's not so easy to get this up to speed but it is possible to save yourself a significant amount of hours / money by following these tips.
16. Standard layouts
By using standard layouts you can have almost everyone in your blog write about their expertise and you’ll have a steady content flow going in no time.
17. Check the competition
Save hours of searching for topics by seeing what the competition is writing about. You can’t always be the first but that shouldn’t keep you from also blogging on important topics.
18. Turn trainings or reports into blogs
Instead of writing an entirely new piece try reforming some ‘evergreen’ material you have readily available. Most likely all the information you need is right there and all you need to do is extract the info you want and informalize the language.
19. Templates & formats
Use these for everything and make sure they work. Everything single Word, Powerpoint, and Excel file you use should be pre-formatted according to your brand book. Every piece of content and promotional material? According to a standardized template, please.
Cumulatively, it will be a huge time saver.
Using a CRM is strongly advised when you have a growing sales team. It’ll give you insight into your sales funnel and thus a chance to see where you can improve without spending too much time gathering intel. And no, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Check out Hubspot CRM for instance.
21. Learn stuff
You are amazing. Simply the best. Now put that behind to work and try to get out of your comfort zone by learning about the different aspects of marketing. Will you be able to do a lot yourself? I guarantee it.
22. Get an intern
If you’re really without budget and have no apparent talent for any of the items I described, get an intern.
Preferably a millennial. These guys and girls seem to be so tech savvy, extremely able to adapt, and out there to prove themselves. Best of all? Willing to work for free!
Ok, I might be taking it too far there but with the right guidance these could all be cool projects to gain some experience with. Give it a shot and give someone a chance!