How to include free resources in your marketing budget

Where does your business come from? While different kinds of businesses can do different things to promote their goods and services, small businesses typically obtain customers from referrals, networking, and direct marketing (which can include email, direct mail, and paid advertising – print and digital). Developing the ideal marketing mix for your business depends on many variables, the most important being where your potential clients consume information. It doesn’t matter how clever or compelling your message is if the wrong people see it, or no one sees it at all.

Many small business owners are required to work with tight budgets in every area, including marketing. This often leads to looking for resources that are free, otherwise known as grass roots marketing or guerilla marketing. Free resources are defined as platforms or tactics that do not charge for their software or services because you create and implement them yourself. Free resources may include organic social media, organic SEO (search engine optimization), email marketing, networking through meetups and other similar methods, and good old-fashioned word of mouth. There is nothing wrong with maximizing your resources, but make sure you are able to reach the right people with your efforts, and make sure you have the time to get it done.

Because the truth is, time is money. Time is limited, often even more so than money. Your time is finite. Last time I checked, we all have the same 24 hours in each day. And you can’t buy more. Or wait – maybe you can. Paying others to do things for you is essentially buying time. As a busy entrepreneur you are the expert in what you do, which usually includes the knowledge you possess in delivering your services, or in creating or obtaining the products you sell. Whether or not you charge by the hour, you can figure out how much your time or any of your employees’ time is worth. Adding this dollar amount for time into your marketing budget will make it feel more real, more important, and help you prioritize getting it done. Whether it’s you as a solopreneur or a supporting staff member, accurately schedule the proper amount of time to consistently and effectively execute marketing plans.

Assigning dollar amounts to time spent on “free” marketing will help you tremendously in making decisions and ensuring the marketing methods you are comparing are apples to apples. Often, outsourced professionals are cheaper in the long run because they can not only do it faster, but also better. Even when you decide you do have the time, looking at these tasks as a concrete expense helps you be more realistic in scheduling and possibly getting training in these areas.

In addition to cost, how do you determine where to spend your efforts? Tune in next week to find out more about choosing the proper marketing methods for your business.

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