5 Tips For Low-Cost Marketing In A Recession

1. Get rid of your expensive, award-winning mediocre results agency. I know my competitors very well, and since my company is often called to clean up messes for our clients, we are familiar with Big Agency practices.

From the smallest to the largest brands and clients, traditionally they hire based on the size of the company not the effectiveness of their metrics. Don't just look at the "creative" because great design is nothing without great execution.

Look at ROI. When you compare the initiatives of small or mid-sized agencies, such as our own, with agencies with offices on three continents, it's often the little guys that still have better metrics and drive more traffic and are generally more attentive to the needs of their clientele.

Consider this: Three guys in a garage created YouTube. The Internet is the equalizer; find a marketer who is not going to charge you prices to pay for the rent and the travel cost to their offices on three continents.



2. Go digital. Email is free and websites are cheap. We have helped many brands end "print" marketing costs by creating better direct e-mail brochures and campaigns online. You can reach more people faster and measure your success with greater ease.

It takes a good partner who understands how to create a model for your target demographic but once that's accomplished, you can reach 10 times as many people without the cost of the physical media. It's better for the environment and your company can get some press about being nice and green and eco-friendly.

3. Find a marketer who will work on results. The best thing I did last year as a small agency owner is create our commerce division. We knew brands would not be able to afford our $350K ecommerce system plus the cost of our marketing capabilities so we created a business structure to give it away.

We saw the looming recession and our biggest clients cutting their budgets, and we adapted. Now, we are actually making more revenue with these deals because we get paid a percentage of the revenue we make for our clients. There are many other agencies that are making similar offerings and if you can match up with an agency willing to get paid on their results, jump on it.

4. Google Adwords. I believe in search (not so much display) marketing. There are members of my staff who couldn't code the simplest website but they are virtuosos with Google Adwords.

Research and read up on the subject and teach yourself how to get the nest results by getting as specific as possible when targeting consumers and demographics -- look at the key-words they search for to identify which consumers and groups are interested in your product.

This way, your ad dollars are spent more efficiently, with a higher return basis and you can abandon the spray and pray models most are using now.

5. Do more with less and clear dead weight. We all have employees or vendors we love. Well, my advice is to crank up the music and add "Ain't Nothing Going On But The Rent" to your iPod. Priorities must change during a recession.

Aspirational work is nice but transactional pays the bills. Good employees who can get results without big expenses will eventually pays for themselves. Put business development first and outsource projects, if necessary, on a project by project basis.

3 comments about "5 Tips For Low-Cost Marketing In A Recession ".
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  1. Andrea Learned from Learned On, LLC, August 10, 2009 at 9:25 a.m.

    #1 may be the most difficult to achieve. Fancy agencies look good on paper, and make for great industry PR ("my brand is so cool, they've got XY&Z on the case!"). A huge biz culture shift may be needed for some brands to let go - but the smart marketers will take heed of the successes so many entrepreneurial brands are having without a big blanket agency (Terracycle anyone?)

  2. Michelle Patterson from The M.A.P. Groupe LLC, August 10, 2009 at 11:40 a.m.

    This is great to see. I'm hoping some marketers listen and execute.

  3. Susan Von Seggern from SvS PR, August 10, 2009 at 1:29 p.m.

    I had a very illustrative experience with the big agency vs small agency debate at my last full time gig and the small agencies won hands down. When we were with one big agency all I got was "no, can't do that, that won't work" etc especially with pitching sports coverage. Now I am no sports expert but it seemed to me that sports radio would be ripe for any interesting topic as all they do is talk 24/7. My small agency got us endless coverage on all the big sports stations leading to a very creative radio/web integrated program for sports that while pricey (for the talent, not the air time) led to enough sales conversion to cover the cost and then some and that in turn led us to breaking it out from just NFL to college ball, NBA and college hoops, plus boxing and I think baseball. The small agency was really able to integrate with us in a way the big agency couldn't leading to creative thinking that won actual sales.

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