It’s fair to say that any business hates to waste money. While this is true for almost all small businesses, big companies didn’t exactly get big because they threw their money in the trash. Losing your money down the drain is easy if you make poor mistakes with how you choose to spend it. Your marketing budget is a vital piece of your all-around business finances and poor choices with that money can mean the different between a bustling startup and yet another bankrupt wannabe company.
Here are five ways you might be wasting your hard-earned money:
Not Knowing Your Audience
If you don’t understand who your audience is, you might as well donate your marketing budget right to charity. Learning who your targeted audience is can mean the difference between growing quickly and fizzling out.
Studying the desires and behaviors of the audience you want to reach. This should be the first step before anything else is done—before you define your marketing strategy, before you buy any advertising, and before you create the content for it. Knowing what you should say to the audience, how to say it to them, and where to deliver it so they can see it best is vital. Need tips? Read Four Ways to Show You Care About Your Clients.
Thinking Social Media is the Best (Or Only) Avenue
Social media can be an exceptional way to reach certain groups of people, but it is not the only way to market your company. There are too many businesses that dive in social media with no better strategy than, “building a following.” While this may have worked in the past before Facebook changed a lot of it’s policies, it’s no longer a good option due to lack of delivery, high advertising fees, and the risk that you’ll miss your targeted groups entirely due to algorithms not matching up.
However, social media isn’t all bad. The best way to use your connections through these platforms now is building up your digital mail/e-mail subscriber lists. Begin to collect your followers e-mail addresses so you have the opportunity to communicate with them directly, rather than possibly missing the mark with an ill-timed Facebook post.
Setting Unreal and Unachievable Expectations and Then Giving Up
A study done by the Small Business Association said that 30% of start-up small businesses fail within two years with that number reaching 50% in five years. Many of these companies start strong in the beginning but within months they fail miserably. One of the biggest reasons for this sudden decline is overblown expectations. They’re excited about their company and its ideas and want to see big results quickly (and sometimes, due to financials, they NEED to see results quickly). The problem? When those expectations fail, they panic and bail out.
The easiest solution is to be forgiving on yourself and your company from the beginning. Always expect a two-year “ramp up” period. Nothing happens overnight and without hard work and dedication over a period. If that seems like it might be an impossible request, use very careful advertising to get your marketing engine warmed up then complement that with as much content as you can reasonably afford to create and promote.
Hiring Unqualified and Underqualified People to Guide Your Marketing
With the rise of social media and the generations that have grown up using the internet from the start, almost everyone believes that can be a Marketer for a business. But, as stated above, social media isn’t your only option and just because you can post 140 characters to Twitter doesn’t mean you understand ROIs, Click-Through Rates, and Call to Actions.
It should be common sense to practice only hiring people that know what they’re doing, and doing it well, or you risk spending money to repair their work or worse you simply lose revenue. Before you hire any one person or marketing firm, make sure you’ve done your research. Ask them about their experience, range, and process for developing marketing strategies and projects. Look at samples and their portfolio. If they can’t produce these, move along.
Going Overboard with Promotional Swag
It is amazing to see your companies name and logo on anything and everything from pens to mugs to mousepads, but businesses need to be very wary that the swag giveaway is absolutely littered with money wasted land mines. Despite what the promotional company might pitch to you, it’s simply very uncommon to fain business clients from your logo on the pocket of a T-shirt or a stress ball. Also, no one is dedicated their time to walking across a convention floor to get a free keychain!
Promotional items do have their place in the marketing world, however. The key is the need to be unique, useful for the specific client, and desirable enough to keep out of the bargain bin. Within that same vein, if you don’t have an incredible logo and an established brand, purchasing branded travel mugs, baseball hats, and koozies is just another way you’re flushing money down the toilet.
Make good choices! Your marketing budget is one of, if not the most, important budget in your business. You can’t gain a customer base and, therefore, make a profit if you don’t find a good way to get your name out to the right audience. Fire Starter Brands has an excellent track record with finding the best avenues for your audience!
About the Author...
Stephen Ekstrom is a well-recognized tourism marketing expert 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 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, advising and assisting smart travel industry suppliers and destination marketers. Stephen currently lives in South Florida with his two dogs, Match & Rudy.