Seems like everywhere you go these days you see brands advertising how they’re “green." Recycle and reuse are the buzzwords of the day, and that’s a good thing. Yet, there’s still an area where waste runs rampant—advertising budgets.
My grandparents were cheap—they were Scottish, so they can blame their heritage—and they taught me to “make do” and “reuse” long before it was trendy to do so. That penny-pinching mentality carried over to my marketing, and still does. In every aspect of your marketing campaign, you should make every dollar count.
For most companies and brands, it’s just assumed that high advertising expenses are a necessary cost of doing business. To me, it seems like too much of a risk. And until I’ve tried everything else that I know will work, I just won’t take the chance on marketing that only might work.
Assuming that high advertising costs are an unfortunate necessity is a mistake, and one key to dramatically lowering your advertising budget is to take a lesson from our “green” friends and to repurpose what you already own or control. One of the biggest and best-kept secrets ever is that every magazine, newspaper, website and TV or radio station will barter for their advertising space.
The following are tips on how to maximize your bartering efforts and minimize your advertising costs.
Pick the right window.
Advertisers know that a cheap space is better than an empty space. Magazines, newspapers and TV and radio stations would rather sell you a cheap advertising spot than go live with an empty one.
All of these types of advertising outlets have no hard costs for running ads. For TV and radio, it’s airtime. For magazines and newspapers, it’s a piece of paper they have to print whether they’ve sold all the ads that can fit on it or not. Often, and especially now, magazines will run ads for free or very cheaply if they are going to print the next day and still have advertising space open. Once Tuesday’s edition goes to press, it’s over for that specific window of sales potential. It’s not as if it were a bottle of wine they could sell tomorrow if they didn’t sell it today. All media outlets have expiring inventory, and they will sell their space for whatever price they can negotiate.
Figure out the windows for media placement in your city and call persistently at those times to see if you can secure great ad placement for next-to-nothing. It won’t always work, but when it does, you’ll be glad you put in the effort.
Scratch each other’s backs.
Years ago, I ran a very large barter company, and we had tons of clients in advertising. They would all trade advertising space for products from other companies. All those ads you see in magazines for golf courses and hotels were not paid for with cash. They were all paid for by the golf course trading 20, 50, or 100 green fees in exchange for the ad, or the hotel agreeing to 10 to 20 nights in a luxury room or suite for the ad.
It doesn’t cost a golf course anything to trade green fees except the cost of a scorecard and pencil—the golf course will still be there the next day to resell to someone paying cash. The same is true for the hotel. And by giving away these deals to advertisers, these businesses increase their chances of having even more paying customers in the future.
If you can trade your products or services with the media, they’ll turn around and resell it for cash to their clients later and you’ll get great exposure for your business for little-to-nothing in cash.
Don’t forget the little guys.
Unless you’ve been living in a hole, you’ve heard about the potential of social media for brands looking to maximize their advertising dollars. The reality is that social media isn’t a silver bullet for your advertising ills. It takes a lot of time and hard work to build a social media presence that pays off.
Thankfully, there’s a lot of bloggers out there who’ve already built the platform you’re looking for—and they’ll often feature your products and services if they believe in them and if you’re willing to offer them something in return. Give them some of your products or services in exchange for an equal or greater amount of credit, gift certificates and so on. That will save cash and get you marketing exposure for your brand.
Hopefully, you get the point. You don’t have to spend big to advertise big. By being creative through bartering, you can build your business and make a great profit.
Cameron Herold coaches entrepreneurs on five continents, helping them build their companies. He started BackPocket COO to coach and mentor young, fun companies. Herold was Chief Operating Officer of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? for nearly seven years. Prior to that, he was VP of corporate development at Ubarter.com