Most businesses leaders I interact with have one thing in common:

They know they should be doing something to promote their business, but they don’t know where to start.

They throw marketing ideas at the wall like spaghetti to see what sticks. And while they are trying to reinvent the wheel, their business doesn’t grow, they can’t get new clients, and they can’t figure out the problem.

They even look at what their competition is doing and assume it’s the right thing, only to find another dead end.

It’s a deep, dark, marketing money pit.

To address this issue, I wanted to help you uncover some marketing budget busters where you may be throwing your marketing dollars down the toilet.

 

1. Most Print Advertising

For most business owners, this is probably the first thing to mind and the most tempting

starting point for advertising. However, it is one of the least cost-effective channels for promotion.

Print advertising in the newspaper, Yellow pages, magazine, or billboard that will potentially be seen by your audience can cost thousands of dollars per month (or even hundreds of thousands if you are working on a bigger scale.) This can eat up an entire marketing budget very quickly.

Study after study tells us that an advertisement needs to be seen 7 times before people begin to tie it to your brand – and even more times for them to actually take action. So in order for print marketing to be effective, you need to get these print pieces in front of the right people so many times that they are actually likely to act.

Some quick math will tell you this could literally put you out of business in a hurry. I believe there are many more cost-effective ways for small businesses to get their message in front of the right audience.

 

2. Google Adwords

One of my main “preaching points” when it comes to marketing is “you have to engage people where they live….online”. However, spending money on Google Adwords and other Search Engine Marketing is really tempting for obvious reasons, but can be a money trap if you aren’t prepared.

Why? In order or these techniques work, you need to have a good amount of information on your target audience and what they are searching for. It is also beneficial to analyze what your competitors are doing and how you can exploit the holes that are available.

SEO/SEM is a more advanced technique that I would recommend for those who already have strong brand recognition or a product that has a lot of traction. From those sources you have customer data you can leverage to use these channels well.

If you just starting out with marketing, I would avoid investing money in SEO/SEM in the short-term.

 

3. Brand Awareness Campaigns

There are 2 principle types of marketing:

Direct response marketing is when you directly ask for someone to buy your product or service or engage in something you are offering. That’s how you sell your services, move products, and build a successful business.

Awareness marketing is spreading the word that you exist, without making any specific ask. Brand awareness is extremely important long-term commitment and can be done effectively through many free or cheap channels.

Brand awareness campaigns are a long-term strategy that is great for platform building and creating more influence for your brand. However, it is more difficult to tie the revenue to these type of campaigns. For a small business who needs to increase concrete metrics and meet revenue projection for next quarter, awareness marketing isn’t the answer.

These include things like sponsorships, commercial spots, wrapping your car with a logo, or giving away freebies at a trade show. Generally speaking, it’s unrealistic to expect to slap your logo on something and expect people to give you a call. Again these campaigns are a long-term investment that works well for multi-million dollar companies that have multi-million dollar marketing budgets and fight for market share in a highly competitive space.

My first recommendation to small-medium-sized businesses is to spend marketing dollars tactically, rather than strategically. This means you set goals for and measure every marketing activity by whether (and how well) it creates sales leads or shortens the sales cycle.

 

4. Hiring unqualified people to guide your marketing

Earlier I mentioned something referred to in the industry as the “marketing money pit”. This represents the business owners who throw marketing ideas at the wall like spaghetti to see what sticks, and the “marketers” and “designers” who gladly take their money for service they know will not create value for the client.

The result is tremendously under-performing businesses and freelancers that are lining their pockets without adding real value.

These people will try to sell you a second-rate website, questionable SEO tactics, and lofty promises X number of traffic, visitors, or sales. If you find yourself in a conversation with one of these people, politely step away from the conversation. This kind of person can almost never delivery actual long-term value, and there are a few important things they are hiding from you.

 

What should I be doing instead?

Instead, you need to build a proper marketing foundation. A recent article by Neil Patel revealed the SEO and Content Marketing are BY FAR the most successful marketing channels in terms of ROI.

In a recent training I did, I show the 5 major pieces of content you need in place to create a strong foundation and start getting an ROI on your marketing investments.

It’s called The 5-Step Budget-Friendly Blueprint to Nailing Your Marketing.

In this FREE training I will teach you:

  • What most marketers and designers won’t tell you about the ‘services’ you pay them for.
  • The 5 simple, scalable steps that will make your marketing better than 95% of businesses…and save you thousands of dollars a year.
  • How this simple sales funnel can be REPEATED in your business for years to come with the same amazing results.

A quick word of caution: If you don’t have these 5 things in place, I would advise you to not pursue any of the 4 strategies listed above.