Three ways to stretch your marketing budget

social fish
social fish

This is a guest post by Liz Scherer. Hire her for your content marketing!


Lean doesn’t have to be ineffective: conquering your marketing budget woes with content

It’s the fourth quarter and marketing budgets are most likely depleted, that is, if there was ever much of a budget to begin with. As you begin to plan for 2017, you may discover an even slimmer budget with loftier goals. Fortunately, there are ways to achieve more with less; the trick is knowing where to cut corners without significantly compromising engagement and interest in your cause.

1.Bridge the multichannel divide

Let’s start with the multichannel challenge: how do you manage message integration across your social platforms when your marketing dollars are dwindling?  The simple answer lies in gathering cross-department teams together – anyone and everyone who touches content in your organization — and creating a single story or single core message, around your and their vision for the organization. This message is the thread that should weave your efforts together across and through the channels that you use to communicate.

2. Review, revise, reuse

Your content is one of the most valuable assets that your organization possesses. And there is no reason to reinvent the farm every year if budgets don’t allow. Rather, take stock of your content inventory, and create a system that allows you to revise and reuse your most successful pieces.

A few tips:

  • Take a look at the metrics on blogs posts, shares, reports, email campaigns, Instagram posts, etc. There are many terrific free tools that allow you to track, analyze and optimize; Bitly happens to be one of my favorites for monitoring the social sphere, for example and Moz has a complete list of other stellar freebies for all of your needs. With a limited budget, focus on the top 10% to 15% content pieces across your portfolio.
  • Evaluate how clearly the message identified by your cross-departmental teams is coming through. That is where you need to start with your revisions.
  • Limited budgets may limit the ability to identify the varied characteristics that define and distinguish your key constituents. Instead, consider working backward, first determining the core action that you wish them to take (e.g. volunteer, donate, etc) and create a profile from that dataset.
  • Just as you are reconsidering your content and messaging, you may need to reconsider the channels that you are using as delivery vehicles:
  • Why are you using them?
  • What do you like/dislike about them?
  • Have they delivered on the goals that you set at the year’s start?

These three simple questions can help you to focus your resources so that you can truly start to take advantage of each channel’s strengths in conveying your repurposed content. For example, perhaps you can reuse specific points in an especially popular white paper to create a new email campaign that links back to the paper. Or, hold a contest with your Instagram followers that use visual imaging based on a post shared on another social network. Are there stories that you can pull from the end of year annual report that support your primary messaging? Creativity is challenging on a shoestring budget but only if you allow what you can’t achieve to stifle your ability to leverage what you can.

3. Keep your content churning

Your constituent base wants to be fed and there are ways to achieve success without breaking the bank. In fact, your constituents actually represent the best source for new content when budgets are tight. User-generated content can help stakeholders become and stay engaged, especially younger supporters who are more accustomed to fast and furious feeding schedules. A few ideas to cut your teeth on:

  • Create a blog series that includes constituent stories around their efforts and yours’.
  • Run stakeholder-generated photography contests that around an email solicitation campaign and lands on one of your channels.
  • Create an up and comer philanthropy series around key fundraising events.

The bottom line is that your world of constituents actually represent fantastic new content sources that can feed the churn at the same time that your repurposing efforts are taking place.

Creativity doesn’t need to be complicated. Sometimes, the simplest strategy wins the strategy.

Liz Scherer is a digital communications strategist specializing in health & wellness, nonprofits, regulated industries and agriculture. A pioneer in the social web healthcare movement, Liz has been involved in moving the envelope in terms of health and gender equity and is a former board member for Health Justice CT. Regardless of silo/industry, Liz is especially interested in how novel & emerging players are ultimately impacting agility marketing and in the disruption of content/communication-driven customer experiences.

In addition to her extensive experience as a strategist, Liz has worked as a journalist, medical education writer, copywriter, blogger and editor, and maintains active memberships in the National Association of Science Writers, the Association of Health Care Journalists and Journalism and Women’s Symposium. In her spare time, Liz mentors health start-ups at 1776 DC and Village Capital and is active in the D.C. Tech Community.

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