What's the secret to winning the 'not enough time or budget' war?

 
small business marketing plan
 
Do what you can with what you have where you are.
— Theodore Roosevelt.

When you're running a small business, it can be easy to discount what you should do, because of all the things you could do if you just had a little more time, resources or money. 

While it's true that President Roosevelt was talking about fighting a battle and not dealing with customers, he was also faced with a situation where there was a reluctance to take action until there were "more men, more guns and more supplies" - and remember he was heading a nation!

His response (do what you can with what you have where you are), is simple advice for a business no matter what its size, and crucial to ensure your business doesn't stall while you're waiting for all the stars to align.

 

So how do you start?

This is of course where marketing planning comes in. By taking the time to consider your target market, your overall business objectives and all the ways you could get there, you'll get a long list of strategies and tactics all of which should (hopefully) achieve the right results. 

At that point, you start paring down the list until you are left with what we call the 'low-hanging fruit' - those that are the easiest to do, the most effective and offer the best return on investment (or ROI). If you are stuck, there are lots of helpful online calculators to help you estimate the value of your activity.

What you should end up with is a list of simple but significant activities which form the basis of your marketing plan. Not only will this help you know what to do first, it will also keep you focused and accountable. 

 

What can you do if budget is really an issue?

  • Rethink your targeting - by limiting your audience to a smaller, more targeted group you can often get efficiencies in ad spend and improve your response rate at the same time.
  • Rethink the channel - consider that $500 or $5,000 you have to spend on marketing and think about applying it where it will be most effective - instead of a small press which may help awareness, why not boost an already well performing search marketing campaign?
  • Rethink your requirements - a client recently challenged us to reduce the cost of a website build; by rethinking the basic requirements and making use of new technology we've been able to meet their budget, while still offering a polished and easy to use solution.
  • Rethink the direction - consider the impact of a little bit of inbound marketing. Rather than pushing out your message, try blogging or using social media to seed content your target market will find helpful and interesting. In fact, companies that blog 15 or more times per month see 5x more traffic than companies that don't (Source Hubspot).

 

But don't stop there...

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.
— Maya Angelou

It's important to consider optimisation too.  Each month you will know the tasks to carry out, and what you have to measure, so you know whether it's working well enough to keep doing.

After all, it's not about winning a battle, but winning the war.

 

Image via Getty Images