Any successful manager will tell you never to skimp on your marketing budget. That’s because every marketing dollar well spent generates a positive return of 500% or more. This can make it very difficult for start-ups and self-funded entrepreneurs to bootstrap their marketing. How do you spend enough to maximize ROI while keeping the purse strings tight?
This is a dilemma that many start-up marketers fail to overcome.
Successfully bootstrapping your marketing isn’t about saving money. Anyone can save money by running fewer ads, using free marketing tools, or doing their own social media outreach.
The key to bootstrapping well is to figure out when to spend your money where it counts and when to spend your time DIY-ing.
The following tips will help you understand how to maximize your in-house resources and when to spend on services.
1. Take Stock of Your Talent.
Start your marketing efforts by doing a talent audit of yourself and your team (if you have one). The idea here is to find out what you’re good at and what you’re not good at so you can allocate your resources efficiently.
For each member of your marketing team, you need to find out:
- What are they good at
- What they aren’t good at
- What they enjoy doing
- What they dislike doing
Now, most people don’t have an accurate idea of what they’re good and bad at. And some don’t even know what they enjoy. For example, someone might say they’d be a great social media manager because they spend a lot of time on Instagram. But that doesn’t mean they enjoy engaging with customers online.
To get a clear understanding of the talent you have access to, ask your staff about their hobbies and passions. Then ask what they think each other’s strengths are. You can also have them do aptitude and personality tests like the Meyers-Briggs test as team building activities.
If you’re on your own, ask friends and family what they think your strengths and weaknesses are.
2. Delegate like a Boss.
Once you know the talent you have on hand, you can make informed decisions about who will take the lead on certain projects. You can also use this info to decide which projects to pursue in the first place.
If one of your team enjoys creative writing, you could put them in charge of your blog. If another has experience with video editing, you might want to divert more resources to starting a YouTube channel.
Now, it’s time to delegate. Division of labor is extremely important when bootstrapping your marketing.
Make sure to assign tasks and measure deliverables like a boss. That means being clear about who is taking the lead on projects, setting strict deadlines, and communicating your expectations.
3. Don’t Waste Time Doing Tasks that Software Can Do.
As a bootstrapping business, it’s more critical for you than anyone to save time and manpower while engaging with as many customers as possible.
Automation software is the best way to do this. But many marketers are afraid of spending a few hundred dollars a month on decent software like Campaigner or HubSpot. Instead, they go for the limited free versions of services like MailChimp.
It’s NOT worth saving an extra $5 a day if you have to do 40 hours of extra busywork a month. Then, when you outgrow these free services, you’ll have to migrate all of your leads and contacts to a better one (which is a huge pain).
If you’re serious about your business, invest in good automation software upfront and automate your email marketing, CRM, analytics, A/B testing, ads, and a lot more. Then, you can free your team up to do the creative work and actually engage with your customers.
4. Learn Video Marketing Hacks.
The top tip for bootstrapping marketers in 2022 is to get on your video game right away. Video marketing has been growing rapidly for years, and with the dominance of YouTube and image-based social media like TikTok and Instagram, it’s not going away any time soon.
Don’t wait until you have a bigger base or budget to start making videos. Start from day one.
Luckily, you don’t need a professional camera or a crew to make awesome videos. Here are a few tips on how to cut corners on videos without cutting quality:
- Get a decent phone: Videos shot on the iPhone 13 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S21 look as good as anything you see on TV. Just one phone can produce brilliant ads and product photography.
- Learn to edit: If you want to pick up one skill to save you loads on marketing, it’s video editing. This skill is easier to learn than ever thanks to user-friendly software that’s likely already installed on your computer.
- Use stock video: Stock footage and royalty free music are affordable and professional. You can buy videos in HD and 4K and edit them however you want, to make pro-level videos in no time.
- Find a video style for your budget: You don’t need to create a work of art. If you have a low budget, do a how-to, a testimonial video, or a product demonstration.
- Go live: Live video is a great way to engage with your customers, show off product features, and grab attention from scrollers on social media.
5. Put Your Boots(traps) on the Ground.
If you’re a small business or a start-up, don’t make the mistake of thinking that all of your potential customers are digitized. We don’t live in the matrix (probably).
Get out there and put boots on the ground doing face-to-face (F2F) marketing. Find out where your customers are and go there. Sponsor events, attend conferences, shake hands—build real connections. Customers remember experiences and genuine communication far more than they do digital impressions and logos.
Plus, some of the easiest customers to access are those who live in your community. Remember that the vast majority of customers prefer to shop locally. They’re also willing to spend more at local businesses.
Bootstrapping your marketing is a challenge, but it’s easier to do now than ever before thanks to technology. The key takeaways are as follows:
- Delegate smart by taking advantage of available talent (that includes delegating busy work to software whenever possible)
- Communicate with customers based on their needs (and not your budget) by dedicating yourself to video marketing and creating genuine experiences.
- Adopt new technology wherever possible to make full use of your marketing budget.