It's going to happen. At some point your boss is going to look at you and say, "we need to cut the budget." So what are you going to do?
There are plenty of ways to generate interest in your product even if you don't have a lot money at your disposal. If you are dealing with limited marketing dollars, take a look at these 5 ways to make the most of a small marketing budget.
1. Create flexible, reusable marketing content
You've got a choice... create content just because you need to fulfill your obligations or focus your efforts on creating content that can be used across multiple platforms. A Flash piece is great for a website but useless on an iPad whereas a great print ad may be rescaled for use on digital platforms like websites, social media and even trade show graphics.
Creating content that can be easily modified is going to save you lots of time and money in the long run. The expensive and impressive video you spent countless hours working on is useless as soon as one sentence is outdated unless you've created it in a format that allows for you to make a simple modification when the time comes.
People are looking for brands that continue to be relevant to their needs, experiences and are consistently deployed. Having the same content available everywhere prospects encounter your brand is ideal for a memorable customer experience. B2B marketers like those in the travel trade should create content once and use it repeatedly across multiple channels - sales material, briefings, training content, trade show displays - without needing to redevelop the content for different applications.
2. Pick One Social Property and Do It Well
Let's be honest, can you really get the results you want with social media if you try to be good at all of them on a limited budget?
If your answer is no, there's still hope. Pick just one or two platforms and be great at them. When you focus your time, energy and money on a streamlined strategy, you're able to bring together scattered resources toward one concentrated and simplified goal.
3. Network More
We all know that relationships matter and, when your budget is cut, they take on an even greater role. Getting to know other professionals in your area and industry can help you generate new leads, build referrals and even open up new doors to shared marketing opportunities.
4. Quantity vs. Quality? Make a More Lasting Impression
At the typical travel industry trade show, buyers will meet with 120 or more suppliers in just a couple quick days. Unless you represent an established vendor or something with a really, really big wow factor, there's a good chance your product will blend in with the rest.
If the cost is relative, are you going to focus on making lots of quick introductions or building a select number of quality impressions?
Many of these same buyers report that fewer than 10 travel supplier and destination representatives visit their office each month. Consider taking 3-4 days away from your property to go meet buyers on their turf. Take the time to place your product in their hands, on their desk and in the space where they can see themselves making use of it - at their office. You can plan your own sales trip or you can work with a trusted partner who can introduce you to new buyers and help make the most efficient use of your time. Click here to see a list of sales missions offered by Fire Starter Brands.
5. Get Involved in Your Community
Opportunities for involvement are endless. You can get involved in your local community by participating in local festivals, posting signs or business cards in neighboring businesses and offering promotional items for charity raffles or give aways.
The travel industry is unique in that our community is built of people with a shared interest what may have little or no geographic commonality. Reach out to representatives at the trade associations to see what volunteer opportunities may be available. Join a committee where you can work alongside potential customers and learn from experienced professionals. Connect with others on LinkedIn and share helpful content that your prospects may notice. Join or start a Facebook group for others that work within the same circles.
After these strategies are in place, if you still feel you need more marketing funds, look to other areas of your business to cut costs. Get your office supplies for free or at a deep discount by signing up for the customer loyalty program at your preferred retailer. Get an energy audit done for recommendations on how to cut utility expenses at your office. And always remember that providing excellent customer service is one of the best and most affordable marketing strategies of all.
What ways can you think of to market your business on a tight budget?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR...
Stephen Ekstrom is a well-recognized tourism marketing authority whose influence reaches over 500,000,000 travelers every year. He's been profiled by the New York Times and appeared on CBS, NBC and NY1. He is a trusted fixture in the travel trade and has served as a board member, expert panelist, committee chair, mentor and program facilitator. Fire Starter Brands, founded by Ekstrom in 2010, manages a network of nearly 5,500 opted-in global travel trade buyers and nearly 20,000 potential vendors, advising and assisting smart travel industry suppliers and destination marketers. Stephen currently lives in South Florida with his two dogs, Match & Rudy.