Making the Most of Smaller Marketing Budgets

Norbert Hobrath

ISSUE 11
When I hear, “I’m melting. I’m melting,” from the crying Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz movie (1939), I sometimes think of some companies in the marketing field. Some budgets just seem to shrink year to year. So what should you do if your marketing budget doesn’t allow for world-class commercials during the Super Bowl? Do the next best thing – focus instead on doing a few things right! 


Let’s look at four questions that will give you some laser-like guidance to focus. 

1) WHO – Determine exactly the audience(s) that you want to reach. Who are these customers and future customers? Where are they? Do you know who they are? 

2) WHY – Now ask yourself the most basic questions. Why would these customers want my product/service? What is uniquely different in what I offer versus my competitors? Can you sum these up in a “unique value proposition?” 

3) HOW – In what way do you convey this unique value proposition? How can you show the differences? Sometimes it’s easy to explain how you are different and better. Often you can do it by telling a story through photos and videos. If you only have me-too (similar) products to your competitors, than you need to present some key value(s) to set you apart. Otherwise, why would someone want to buy your specific product? 

4) WHAT – Do you know what you are looking to achieve? Have you set goals for the marketing campaign? Do you have a budget allocated? These are the answers that will help formulate your content marketing goals. 

No matter what size of your budget, you always need the answers to these four questions first. But let’s say you have a small or limited marketing budget. So how do you get the most for marketing dollars available and still achieve the goals? 

That brings our discussion back to ‘focus.’ When I am asked the best way to hit a home run with what budget dollars are available, the answer is always to concentrate on doing a few things exceptionally well, and then build on that success over time. 

What single project/program will deliver the most benefit with the budget dollars available? What is the second best project/program? And so forth. Build a list of potential marketing tools that can be used. Next, prioritize these. Which one(s) could deliver the best result if funded adequately? 

I always like to look at pockets of projects. Sometimes one tactic is good, but when combined with other promotions, they can deliver loads of better results by additional exposure. 

Let me give a very simple example as shown in this illustration. 

How to build on your promotional successes. 

You want to test a new product in your industry, but can’t afford a full rollout and the product doesn’t call for major advertising introduction yet. So with the limited budget… 

a) implement a PR campaign, working with one or several key trade media in the industry to get an excellent story written about the product promoting its benefits and why it is better than others currently available. Now, potentially thousands of readers nay see the article. 

b) then, work the trade magazine to put the story on their website. More exposure for your brand. 

c) next, place this article about your product from the magazine prominently on your company’s website. This is impressive. It shows the industry is talking about your company and your new product. 

d) then, reprint that article and give it your sales team to handout during presentations, or send it to key potential customers in a direct mail campaign. 

e) and of course, post the article to your corporate Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and send out a tweet via Twitter. 

Now you get the idea. Do one promotion right (getting the story published in a leading trade magazine) and then keep building on it to stretch your marketing dollar. This is just one example of many possibilities. With a simple campaign such as this, you can keep a close eye on your small budget. Track the results to see how this marketing has impacted product interest and what leads and/or sales have been generated so you can see how concentrating your marketing punch in one or several key tactics can deliver maximum exposure. 

If you’d like to learn more about how to make the most of your marketing budgets, email me to talk further. We can present some innovative ideas to make your company and products a success.


Norbert Hobrath believes in the power of content marketing, both in words and images, and the powerful combination of these two. For more than 30 years, he has developed interesting, informative and influential strategy and content for both industrial and service-based B2B clientele. He has also directed marketing and communications programs as Director of Marketing Communications for a worldwide manufacturing company, and as Communications Manager for the Fortune 500 American Greetings Corporation, and for a BASF chemicals company. He enjoys promoting corporate and product brands through effective storytelling. He is President & Chief Content Officer of Hobrath Group, LLC in Cleveland, Ohio. www.hobrath.com

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