Did you know you have money that’s hidden somewhere and could be working for you?
That’s the kind of headline that either pulls you in or turns you off.
But, it’s true. You do have more money than you think you do. I know that for a fact. Every year when I meet with our accountant she asks me, nicely, questions like what do you get for that $1200 you invested in software? Uh, the ability to send email and price products. She pauses and smiles, I wait a few seconds and then admit that I could be saving $1200 a year by using duplicate services I own that do the same thing. Every year she talks me out of spending/wasting thousands of dollars.
For me, it’s hard to admit that I’m wasteful. Yet, it’s such a relief and a good feeling when I let go of an expense that’s costing more than it’s bringing in. Knowing what you’re spending on marketing and how the money’s working for you is good practice in any economy.
Depending on who you talk to, where they live and what they do, you’ll hear different takes on the economy: it’s a little soft, we’ve hit the bottom, we’re rebounding or we’re doing swell.
Today we’ll talk about how to find marketing funding with a marketing expense audit. That means shaking out all of your marketing-related expenses, assessing each one’s effectiveness and then making decisions about what to keep, what to cut and yes, what to spend more on.
Inventory Your Time and Money
Way back in 2004, I came up with a program called “The Success Summit Series.” Designed to help small businesses fine-tune their marketing and hone their competitive edge, we met in three sessions.
One of the most enlightening activities for my students was the marketing inventory. Each business owner evaluated their expenses and shared what worked for them with the group. For one, it was a coupon in a special offer pack. For another, it was personal communication – the most costly in terms of time. Another got the best results from rewarding referrals. What’s your best marketing tactic in terms of return on time and money being invested?
Here’s a chart to help you fill in the blanks. Most students were surprised at the amount of money the group spent on advertising. Although few students had ever sent out a press release, I taught them how in the next session. Doing your own marketing works when you have the time and the interest.
Marketing Inventory – What Categories Would You Add?
|Word of Mouth|
|Commenting on Blogs|
Source: The Success Summit Series, Barbara Rozgonyi, 2004-2008
Now that you know where your money and time go, ask if they’re going to the right place. For example, do you want to reach a new market, grow your current client relationships, launch a product, promote your book or elevate your visibility online? Each of these goals is worthy and each requires its own strategy and objectives – not to mention dedicated time and money budget. Pick your most important initiative [hint: the one that will bring in the most income in the shortest amount of time with the least effort] and start there.
Finding Hidden Funding
With your priorities all set, you can reevaluate your budget. Do you need an expensive Yellow Pages ad, a cell phone and a land line? How much do you really need to have to keep your business going? After listening to my accountant, I was inspired to slice off $450 per month in fees for services that were nice to have, but not necessary to keep going.
Your Turn to Jump In
Where have you found hidden marketing funding? What did you spend too much money on?