“when you don’t have a lot of money to spend on your marketing, invest your time, energy, knowledge and imagination to the business.”
By Justine P. Castellon
One of the most important decisions that an entrepreneur has to make is how much money to spend on a marketing and operational budget. Though the answer varies by business and industry size, the most important thing to consider is how much you want to grow and how fast in terms of profitability and not sales revenues alone. Most entrepreneurs under-spend their budget thinking this will give them savings. You’re wrong – your business have to spend money to make money. The trick however is to spend your money wisely on a tailored marketing plan aimed at fulfilling your business goals.
Jay Conrad Levinson, the father of Guerrilla Marketing talks about the principles of guerrilla entrepreneur attacks (with this author) during his visit in Manila. Levinson says, “when you don’t have a lot of money to spend on your marketing, invest your time, energy, knowledge and imagination to the business.”
Here’s the solutions on how you can economize the guerrilla way:
SHOW YOUR CUSTOMERS THAT YOU CARE.
Recognize that your customers have needs and expectations. You’ve got to meet those needs and exceed those expectations, always. According to Levinson, it’s very easy to care about your customers, “but unless you take steps to show them that you care, they might be wooed away by a competitor. Your marketing can say all the right words and tell customers how important they are to you. But you’ve got to prove your dedication to customers — and prospects — by taking concrete steps beyond mere words”
For some marketers, delighting your customers is the first act in winning trust. Focus on customer experience and interaction to fast-track market penetration — your customers value attention, reliability, promptness and competence. In earning their loyalty, customers rate their quality of interactions as equally important to the quality of your products. Similar to Levinson’s, highlight on the process on how you deliver excellent customer experience. Well-trained and customer-centric employees are the top attribute of companies that provide consistently excellent experiences. Continuously improve the quality of your service. Use feedback forms and encourage customers to share their views on how you conduct their relationship-building and fix the trouble areas revealed.
MARKET YOUR MARKETING.
You’re not really promoting unless you’re cross-promoting. “Your trade show booth will be far more valuable to you if you promote it in trade magazines and with fliers put under the doors of hotels near the trade show,” shares Levinson.
The changing nature of markets, particularly the increase in competition and development of both local and availability of global brands make us more dependent on several media to motivate a purchase. It is no longer enough to design an attractive promotion. Marketing your promotion becomes a necessity. Make a big-bang announcement when you present value offers, sampling or even freebies.
It doesn’t mean that you will allot additional budget on promotional announcements. Maximize your existing communication vehicles. When you develop a brochures or flyers, make sure to include your hotline number and website address to access on more clarified information. Use your business card as marketing tools or promotional bulletin board by posting your services or promotions at the back of your card. Never forget your exit strategy. Bounce-Back coupons are excellent way to engage customer to come back on limited period time by offering certain discounts on the next purchase. This way, you’re motivating them to return using the same promotional materials.
EXPLORE FUSION MARKETING.
“The guerrilla entrepreneur is dependent upon many people. He knows that the age of the lone wolf entrepreneur, independent and proud of it, has passed — he is very dependent upon his fusion business partners,” says Levinson. Identify potential partners for fusion marketing (also called co-marketing promotions). Fusion marketing takes your brand to a new audience by associating with other brand. It will strengthen preference or purchase intention.
Because of too many choices and similar offerings, you have to spend extra for differentiating your brand. With this, several businesses share the same customers and by combining their efforts into one synergistic move are more economical and bring better results. Combine your marketing efforts, concept and production skills, customer information and anything else to increase your marketing reach while reducing the cost. Take Pizza Hut and Pepsi for instance, or Krispy Kreme and Hersheys. These companies merge their forces to create a single campaign targeting one segmented audience carrying both their brands.
Collaboration happens not only with similar branding activities but partnership and alignment with your suppliers and employees as well. Building your brand is similar to building a cathedral or making a movie, it takes hundreds of collaborators. Always remember, when you join fusion marketing, you have to be ready to collaborate with your partners. “You’ll scratch my back and I will scratch yours”, says Levinson.
NURTURE THE ONES YOU ALREADY HAVE.
The most common method of economizing is also one of the most overlooked — marketing to existing customers. Customer acquisition will cost you six times more that customer retention. Levinson points out that the price of discovering and convincing likely customers is astronomical when compared with the price of doing the same with current customers. Most entrepreneurs believe that customer relationship management is expensive. This is a common misconception; you can simply develop database marketing. Update and maintain your list of customers’ information accurately. This information is handy for prospecting purposes, customer segmentation, forecasting sales or determines who your real customers are and their buying habits. That way, you can communicate with them frequently, more effectively.
Customer-nurturing programs cannot be measured on how your membership cards look or the rewards that you give. It is by how well you know them on a personal basis. Always remember their names (and important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries). Surprise them, by giving small token on unexpected dates. Finding cost-effective and fast communication vehicles will also strengthen the relationship-building process with your customers. Use email and SMS message blasts. Develop a simple HTML catalogue-type email (avoid using attachments), and send them to all customers who uses internet. Also, get advantage of the Telco’s offers of unlimited text to broadcast your new products and services.
Understand conversion rates of prospects to leads, to qualified opportunities, and to winning the customer loyalty. Create pipelines that fill target accounts, nurtures, appointment and sales. Understand what works, what doesn’t, continuously improve the streamline processes, and prepare to pilot another tailor-fit program.
A common problem for all businesses today is not only about not having enough money to work on all the possible marketing ideas, but putting the right plan. Squeezing the maximum results from your marketing activities is the best way to economize. A one-time radio ad, or a 7-seconder TV commercial will not necessarily translate to increased sales. Your target customers need to hear your marketing messages at least 7 times to influence a buying decision. Use low-budget marketing to get your message out to your customers on a regular basis.
The philosophy of frugality and thrift is not about cutting and limiting your marketing expenditures. It is the concept of “stretching your marketing budget” to reach your target market in multiple channels, thus, bringing higher impact to your marketing message. And for Levinson, guerrilla entrepreneur’s attacks do not suffer from lack of resources, “but instead prosper because lack of capital makes them more willing to try new and innovative ideas.”
[NOTE: From the actual one-on-one interview with Jay Conrad Levinson in Manila]