Insights on Marketing & Technology

8 advantages of marketing without a budget

Just under 2 years ago, tech start-up Procurify convinced billionaire investor Mark Cuban to give them a shot. It's paid off. Today, Procurify has clients in over 40 countries and they accomplished this without much of a marketing budget. Marketing VP Matt Lim discusses the benefits of financial limitations.

  • By: Matt Lim
  • Published: 18-08-2014

Just like learning a language, marketing is a skill that should be developed. Whether your organization has a $100 million dollar marketing budget or is struggling to afford software, it makes a lot of sense to make sure your efforts are being used in the right way. Marketing with a limited budget can help your team think inside out and become more effective at marketing.

1) When your budget is limited it forces you to think creatively. You can’t rely on advertising or expensive campaigns to drive sales. Every dollar you spend has to matter and because of that more thought and effort will go into the projects your team decides to pursue.

If you give your marketing team a limited budget they will start to get creative. You’ll be surprised how original people can be when they are faced with limitations. I’ve noticed that when money isn’t really a concern people start to spend it to take shortcuts. It’s okay to do things more efficiently, but if the engine driving your marketing is money, good luck with the scalability. Set Limits!

2) When the campaigns don’t cost that much you’re allowed to fail. One of the main drivers of successful campaigns is being able to learn from failure. Every campaign you run will ultimately provide valuable data to allow you to make better decisions for the future. This applies to both failed and successful campaigns.

If you allow your team to fail they’ll be much more willing to try new things. Take mistakes and turn them into learning lessons. One of the simplest but most important lessons I’ve learnt is that if you fire people based on mistakes you are paying to teach other people’s team. Trying new things and doing things that haven’t been done will open up opportunities. Be supportive, be unorthodox!

3) When your budget is small you don’t have a safety net to waste money. Wasting money is different from failure. For example, if advertising on a marketing channel is costing you 75% of your budget and isn’t performing as expected, it’s okay that you spent money to find that out. However don’t keep spending money on that channel. This means you will need to measure your performance. 

What gets measured gets managed. Set your team up for success by properly tracking the effectiveness of what you are doing. Stop doing ineffective work and double down on what’s working. This also applies to measuring your data. Figure out what metrics and data points are essential and focus on those. Everything else is noise.

4) You can’t do everything. Early on I tried to do too much because I thought that everything was important. Every little bit can contribute to the larger overall picture but that only really works to get off the ground. Eventually you will get bogged down with too many things to manage. Large marketing budgets can make campaigns really slow moving and have a lot of little details that serve as minor distractions. Managing everything can quickly become your whole job. You need to find out what actions are contributing to the majority of your success.

This is the 80/20 rule: 20% of your efforts result in 80% of your success. The more you can eliminate the unnecessary work, the more time you will have to focus on what you should be doing. If your boss or colleagues expect you to work on projects that you don’t believe will contribute to the bigger picture and merely keep you busy, explain that you have too much to do. Learn to say no.

5) The scariest and most damaging thing that can happen to a marketer is when they believe they know everything. Keep an open mind. Whether it’s traditional marketing, guerrilla marketing, direct mail, SEO, SEM, email marketing or some new buzzword, you won’t know how effective something can be until you actually try it.

I can’t emphasise how often I have seen fellow marketers become jaded from failed campaigns. It’s very easy to discount ways of doing things because they didn’t work in one particular instance, but there is a lot of value in learning what has and hasn’t worked with other industries, organizations, or people. Stay curious.

6) Don’t let other people tell you what is important or what can or can’t be done. Your company is unique and what didn’t work for them might be successful for you. That being said it’s a lot cheaper to learn from the mistakes others have made. Reach out to people in a similar industry and share your experiences.

You can look at your industry and see the competition or you can choose to look at all the partnership opportunities. You can also investigate what has worked for others and try to apply those same elements to your marketing. Reach out!

7) Don’t be boring. Most marketers believe that by talking about themselves they’ll create enough noise to be heard. You can go a long way by promoting other people and talking about things you’re audience would find interesting.

I’ve seen blogs that celebrate their 100th post or talk about the company’s latest holiday party. The only people who care about those kinds of posts are people who were at the party or are looking for a way to be invited to the next one. I have to admit that i’ve seen parties thrown as effective marketing campaigns, but for the most part, stick to what’s interesting for your readers. Market for your audience, not for you.

8) Push the envelope. This will help you to avoid being boring. If no one is talking about you or your company it’s because you aren’t interesting. Start to think about ways to get your message across creatively. Don’t be afraid to do things that no one else in your industry has done.

If you’ve ever gone to a formal event in casual clothing that’s the same feeling you get when you try something no one else has done before. It can feel a lot safer to follow the status quo and follow the market, but your message will blend in with the crowd. Be different!

I’m sorry to say that I don’t have any magic formula for effective marketing. The recipe for success I have followed is equal parts curiosity, knowledge, experience and creativity.

The Three Stages of Marketing:
You need knowledge to form a base. You need experience to learn to apply the knowledge. You need creativity to put all the dots together. Over time, if your marketing team is willing to learn and try, they can do amazing things.

Matt Lim
Matt is a clueless marketer. His strategy is experimentation and learning by doing. He believes mistakes are proof that you are trying. He is willing to try almost everything twice.

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