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In a recession or recovering economy companies are tempted to cut corners in marketing to balance budgets or “tighten” the belt.  Let’s look at 3 things you need to spend some time and money on for profitable results, and a few things it’s fine to “downsize” or delay to save extra cash.

The Must Haves:
Pay a Little Now, Save a Lot Later

A Quality Company “Look.”
From logo and font selection to appropriate color choices – a quality professional’s help with your visual brand can prevent costly problems later.  A brand professional can guide you in design decisions to connect with your target market and will provide you with the files and information to properly utilize your logo and brand colors.

Skimping here can cost you in two big ways.  It can cost you the appeal and iconic recognition you need with your audience to convert sales.  The second hit can run from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars when ineffective or poor quality items must be redesigned, reprinted and replaced.

A Great Message.
If your customers don’t remember it, was it worth it?  You’ve heard the stories… the video that went viral.  The unknown who was suddenly platinum.  The shoes that sold 11 million dollars in a year.  It takes being noteworthy and “share-worthy.” And sometimes, it’s just this… delivering the right message at the right time.  Working with a professional helps you to test and develop the right message for your product or service and allows for greater results and longer-running campaign success.

Skimping here can cost you lost revenue in wasted advertising, lost sales, and costly development of damage-control campaigns or rebranding.

An Optimized and Targeted Website.
It’s no accident that some sites are visited often and have return traffic and sales while others simply “sit there looking pretty.”  Multiple variables are at play, but a few big factors include page layout, content relevance, call to action strategies and engagement.  These factors must be part of the planning and development of a site geared for results.  A quality professional’s help will ensure that your site is planned, created, optimized and marketed to meet your goals.

Skimping here can cost you and you’ll never realize how much.  You won’t necessarily know how many of your “visitors” check you out and buy somewhere else.  You can also spend a lot of money in advertising campaigns driving traffic to a site that just makes your prospects leave.

The Maybes:  Save a Little (or a Lot) Now

The High-Priced Phonebook Ad.
Companies are abandoning the expensive ads in favor of online listings.  Why?  When’s the last time you used a phone book?  Today, the question is, “What online directories are you in?”  Make sure you’re in Google Places and develop a digital footprint.  You’d be better off investing in your web presence than a shelf presence.

Stamps/Postage.
Traditional mail still works for many sectors, but if your budget’s tight consider letting it lie while you explore email marketing and social media.  Not only will you save dollars, you will have a greater return on your investment and higher conversion rates.  Relationship- based email campaigns and social channels are where customers are making decisions and purchases.

For $10-15/month, you can have a CanSPAM compliant email campaign that is coordinated with your other marketing efforts to drive sales.   Most social marketing platforms are free and can be easily connected to work together.  Save money now and make money later.

Traditional Printed Letterhead.
Many companies and those with a firm eye toward “greening” their operations, are dumping the printed letterhead for digital files.  Instead of buying printed letterhead sheets and envelopes, try working with a digital letterhead and a PDF maker to create digital copies of your documents you can email to recipients.

Remember unencrypted email is not secure, so don’t email documents that contain identity or other sensitive information.

Times might be tight, but the best solution is to put your marketing dollars where they will have the greatest and most lasting impact.  “Downsize” some items, but keep the “must haves” in professional working order!

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Cindy is the founding President at 17blue Digital Agency. She's passionate about helping businesses create traction for their brands, reach their goals and make a difference in their communities.