All of us have limited marketing budgets. How can you increase your results without a matching increase in marketing spend? Here are six ways:

  1. Stop spending money  on what doesn’t work, and re-allocate the funds to what you know works – marketing expenditures tend to have inertia. Perhaps you’re spending money on a trade show because you’ve always gone to that trade show, or you’re using a particular advertising channel because that channel worked well for you several years ago. Re-examine all your expenditures and determine which are getting the best results. Eliminate those that aren’t working and reallocate the spending to those which work. Save some of the re-allocated funds for experiments, marketing activities whose effectiveness is unknown, but seems worth trying at a small level.
  2. Focus on engagement – many business tend to focus on the top of the funnel (leads) and the bottom of the funnel (sales), but don’t spend enough time on those activities that engage prospects, moving them through the funnel to purchase and securing them as lifetime customers. Ask yourself: what questions do prospects have about our product, service or company that they need answered before they buy? Then make sure that customers can get the answers to those questions, either through your web site or your sales force.  Ask yourself: what actions could my prospect take that would indicate interest in my product, service or company but that falls short of a purchase? Put together some informational sessions, delivered either through webinars or in person. Engage prospects through social media. Add a structured trial or a low cost entry point to your solution that leads to further sales down the road.
  3. Hone your value proposition to a “hook” and make it consistent everywhere – your value proposition must be so compelling that a prospect would be crazy to buy from anyone else. Work on the value proposition, eliminating anything unnecessary, until you have something as attractive as you can possibly make it. The pare it down even further, to a one or two word phrase that is compelling and believable (this is known as a “hook”).  Then make sure that your “hook” is presented consistently everywhere – on your web site, through all your marketing materials, in every communication. The market should identify you with one thing in such a way that they say “Oh, if you want [insert your hook here], then you need to go to [the name of your product or business here].
  4. PR – PR remains one of the most effective marketing tools available, and usually there is no cost involved, only time (we won’t count the cost of a PR agency and assume you can do some of your own PR). Can you write a guest article or guest post in a magazine or web site read by your target audience? Do you have an interesting story to tell that you can pitch to a writer? If you’re an expert on a topic that gets written about on a regular basis, make sure that the press knows that they can reach you any time, day or night, for a quote, and that you’ll be responsive.
  5. Make the buying process as simple and streamlined as possible – don’t make it hard on your buyer. Help them with the homework that they need to do before buying your product and make the buying process as simple as possible. Progressive Insurance provides a good example of helping buyers with their homework: when you request an insurance quote from them, they also provide quotes from a couple of their competitors. Amazon’s 1-Click is the ultimate example of the streamlined buying process. Look at your own process from your buyer’s eyes. Is their homework that every buyer needs to perform before buying from you that you can help them with? Walk through every step of your buying process: can you eliminate steps? Unnecessary clicks? Re-entry of previously entered information?
  6. Cross-sell – Amazon provides another great example of cross-selling with their “Frequently bought together” offerings. Can you apply this to your business? As prospects come in, can you provide them with multiple offers? Small upsells that result in higher average transactions and greater profitability? Run small experiments with this. Sometimes cross-selling can complicate the decision and actually reduce sales, sometimes it can increase sales.  Find out what works through multiple, small experiments and then run with it.

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