Tough Times Squeezing Your Marketing Budget? Invest Online

September 30, 2008

It's no secret that the economy is currently going through a tough time.  As your clients pockets grow shallower, your marketing budget tends to shrink. Tough times present the ultimate business conundrum: you need to build new leads but you have less money to spend on marketing.  This is not the time to cut back on marketing.  According to John A. Quelch in a recent HBS Newsletter:

"It is well documented that brands that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost than during good economic times."

Why marketing online is the solution.

The key to surviving tough times is improving your marketing efficiency. While it is not a black box you can throw money into and expect great results, the web is a proven marketing medium that can generate phenomenal returns.  Successful online marketing campaigns take time, effort, and creativity; however, these efforts can certainly provide a substantial ROI when compared to pricey traditional campaigns.

Social media is completely assimilated into the mainstream market, making this is the best time ever to market online.  Through services like Twitter (follow me!), FacebookLinkedIn, and others, marketers have the opportunity to engage consumers in a dynamic conversation and keep them up to date on the company's latest news.  Furthermore, all of these social media techniques are completely free to use and leverage.  By combining these free methods with pay services such as website design, Pay Per Click advertising, banner ads, and more, you can form a formidable campaign that is far less expensive than many traditional campaigns.

Longevity and accurate tracking makes online marketing efficient.

One of the best features of putting your marketing dollars online is the amount of time you extend their life.  Rather than spending money on a print campaign that dies after a month, your online presence can hold strong for multiple years and be the face of your organization.  Furthermore by using a Content Management System, you can constantly refresh your campaign with new content to engage and inform your audience.  Also, that new content will be informed by actual data gathered from the site rather than just "gut feelings" on how the campaign is going.  Online campaigns make it easier to track results,scale a campaign over time, and engage your entire team by keeping them informed with their successes and failures.

The world is moving online (just ask the newspaper industry), there's no reason that your business should fall behind, especially when moving online is the more economical decision for your marketing dollars. In any marketing adventure, but especially one during a recession, there are pitfalls to avoid when spending marketing dollars online:

  • Closely monitor your Google Adwords campaigns.  Those monthly bills can rack up quickly and can have a low conversion rate, if not closely watched.
  • Install a powerful statistics tool, such as Google Analytics.  We install Google Analytics on every one of our sites, so our clients can track their site's success and make tweaks as necessary through the Content Management Software. This is the best way to ensure a strong marketing ROI.
  • Do strong due diligence when searching for a web design firm.  Too often we see organizations spend 2-3x what they would have spent with us, because they didn't really shop around and they just went with the first firm they came across.  There are good deals for site development and online campaigns out there, be sure to get a good feel for each firm's value and values.
  • Don't approach your site with an "if we build it, they will come" philosophy.  You have to support it by placing your domain on all of your marketing collaterals, engaging in social networks, placing some ads, and more.  The reverse of this is also true; if you're spending time and money to drive people to your site it's essential to remember the importance of a well designed website, so your money doesn't go to waste.

If there's one thing I could recommend to any company, big or small, during the economic downturn, it's to use this situation as an opportunity to efficiently spend your marketing dollars. Get in touch with some web firms and get a proposal for what they recommend you doing at a specific budget - I think you'll be blown away by how  impactful an online marketing campaign can be, while still costing significantly less than other forms of advertising.


jennefvf's avatar

Hey everyone! :D
I'm new to
Hope I can be a regular here!

Clay Schossow's avatar
Clay Schossow NMC team member

Ron, great point. Your marketing dollars will be wasted if you go with the wrong firm. I think this is a great topic to tackle and plan on getting up a post on it soon. Thanks for the idea and the feedback!

 Ron Amundson's avatar
Ron Amundson

Due diligence on a web design firm I think is a key part of this... Perhaps you could follow up with a article on what to look out for?.

 Clay 's avatar

Brian, thanks for reading the post and the comment. You're right on and the awesome content over at shows that you are already on top of it. Keep up the great work in Boston and I hope to see you posting more on our Blog!

 Brian Halligan's avatar
Brian Halligan

Hi Clay.\r\n\r\nI couldn't agree more with your article. \r\n\r\nThe fundamental way in which your buyers shop/learn has transformed over the last few years. Traditional techniques such as email marketing, cold calling, tv ads, and radio ads are efficiently blocked out with new technology like spam protection, caller ID, TIVO, and Sirius satellite radio. Society is just getting better and better at blocking out your marketing messages.\r\n\r\nOver the last couple of years, people have turned to search engines, the social mediasphere, and the blogosphere to do do their shopping and learning. It is this fundamental shift that's happening in society that gives early adopters of this new technology a big competitive advantage akin to the competitive advantage early tv advertisers got 50 years ago.\r\n\r\nBrian.

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