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What's the best way to get big results from a small budget?

This Week's Challenge

Get big results from a small budget

My company is a small education institution with a small marketing budget to match. Our competitor, also in the same area, has lucked out with a budget that's 10 times larger than ours.

I've done the flyer routine and created a referral program in which a student gets $100 if a friend enrolls. We've sent press releases to the local media. I think I've run out of ideas that require little or no money. What other low-cost marketing strategies work well?

—Kate

The following two Web-based activities support efforts to reach your target audience without eating up your budget:

  1. Write online content

  2. Advertise with search engines

Write Online Content

Next Marketing Challenge

Preventing a Web site redesign from going in the wrong direction.

Click here to offer your advice or here to ask a question.

Sunil Shibad, creative director with The Flea Advertising & Marketing, suggests starting a blog. Blogger.com and Wordpress.org are free applications. "Run a competition targeted to students. The topic can be along the lines of 'What I Would Do as Principal of My School.' Offer a cool prize like an iPod or a cell phone," Shibad says.

Blogging provides the opportunity to connect with students and engage them. Talk about hot topics such as finding the right school, picking the right classes, and how to select a major. As you build an audience, add in the contest and mention students get $100 for referrals. MySpace—love it or hate it—attracts many students. They love it. Consider creating a page for the school and engage potential students. Have a contest posted there and on your own Web site to reach a greater audience.

Advertise With Search Engines

Another way to make your presence known is by using search advertising. Google and Yahoo will match searchers' keywords to serve up your ads, which will also show up on various Web sites that publish contextually relevant content. These advertising resources let users set up a budget and provide statistics on how well an ad works, making it easier to tweak the ads. The trick comes in finding the right budget, as bidding too low and also too high for keywords can hurt you more than help you.

If you have no budget, start with writing articles that are published on various sites and have a link that leads back to yours. Then try search advertising when you get a decent budget. Simultaneously going both routes will improve your chance of getting results faster.

Next Marketing Challenge: Can You Help?

Keeping a Web redesign realistic

We plan to redesign our corporate site and the executives involved are neophytes. They enthusiastically share ideas and wants, but these are not standard practice in Web design.

I figure my best bet is to find information and resources on standard practices in business-to-business Web design, share it with them and hope they get the idea about what we need to consider. What are some resources or Web sites I should use to share with the executive team, or how else should I "gently" help them understand their ideas are off the mark?

—Danielle

If you have a general situation or question needing a few hundred brains for ideas, 180,000 MarketingProfs readers are ready to deliver their thoughts to resolve your challenge. Share your question, and you'll get a chance to win a complimentary copy of our book, A Marketer's Guide to e-Newsletter Publishing.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hank Stroll (Hank@InternetVIZ.com) is publisher at InternetVIZ, a custom publisher of 24 B2B e-newsletters reaching 490,000 business executives.