The term “bootstrap” is often used to describe situations of self-reliance. It means to develop something that takes significant effort with little or no assistance. In the world of marketing, this often equates to operating with a very limited budget. The economic ruckus created by the fiscal cliff suggests 2013 will be a bootstrapping year for many marketing departments. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. economy shrank for the first time in more than three years in the fourth quarter. That means CMO’s will have plenty of opportunities to document their “how I bootstrapped the campaign” marketing stories.
During economic uncertainty, one of the major reasons businesses go under is because they run out of cash. Cash flow is the lifeblood of every business, and in order to keep the business healthy, cash needs to continue flowing; an economic crisis can be particularly hard-hitting for small businesses unless they have plenty of capital to ride out the recessionary waves.
In my blog post “You Can Support Headcount and Share of Voice on a Tight Budget,” I presented a high-level case study in which a small business was able to increase qualified leads by 7 percent while cutting their marketing budget by 24 percent, and the decrease in spend was not the result of reducing headcount.
Now, I’ll offer three cost-effective initiatives based on that case study that may help you bootstrap your 2013 marketing budget:
1. Blog: Create thought-leadership content by leveraging your in-house subject matter experts to craft blogs that focus on building customer trust, rapport, and credibility, while still supporting the sales cycle. Make sure all the content is search engine-optimized so certain keywords are likely to be picked up in industry-specific searches.
2. LinkedIn: Accept the use of social networking tools and encourage your employees to join. Form groups on LinkedIn that are relevant to your business (like user groups – but make sure you maintain control through a moderator) and encourage your customers to also join. Coach your employees to respond to questions that surface in the group discussions and encourage your business development organization to use LinkedIn much like they would use a contact management tool.
3. Twitter: Use Twitter for micro-blogging and micro-selling. You can automatically feed twitter your blogs, press releases, and other communications, and twitter can then feed your LinkedIn profile. As the process matures it takes on the characteristics of an integrated lead generation/lead nurturing system.
By integrating a social media-focused marketing strategy, you can make a cost effective difference in both your lead generation and lead nurturing programs. It will also help you maintain your customer focus while you’re doing everything possible to manage your cash flow in a very tough economy.