10 Ways to Stretch Your Advertising Budget

1. Use your ads for more than just space advertising.

There are ways of getting your advertising message in your prospect’s hands at a fraction of the cost of space advertising. The least expensive is to order an ample supply of reprints and distribute them to customers and prospects every chance you get. When you send literature in response to an inquiry, include a copy of the ad in the package. Make sure your salespeople receive an extra supply of reprints and are encouraged to include them when they write to or visit their customers. Ad reprints can also be used as inexpensive direct-mail pieces. You can mail the reprints along with a reply card and a sales letter. Unlike the ad, which is “cast in concrete,” the letter is easily and inexpensively tailored to specific markets and customer groups.

2. If something works, stick with it.

Too many industrial marketers scrap their old ads and create new ones because they’re bored with their current campaign. That’s a waste. You should run your ads for as long as your customers read and react to them.

3. Don’t over-present yourself.

A strange thing happens to industrial advertisers when they get a little extra money in the ad budget: They see fancy four-color brochures, gold-embossed mailers, and fat annual reports produced by Fortune 500 firms. Then they say, “This stuff sure looks great — why don’t we do some brochures like this?” That’s a mistake. The look, tone, and image of your promotions should be dictated by your product and your market — not by what other companies in other businesses put out.

4. Use “modular” product literature.

One common advertising problem is how to promote a single product to many small, diverse markets. The solution is creating a basic brochure layout that has sections capable of being tailored to meet specific market needs. After all, most sections of the brochure — technical specifications, service, company background, product operation, product features — will be the same regardless of the audience. Only a few sections, such as benefits of the product to the user and typical applications, need to be tailored to specific readers.

5. Use article reprints as supplementary literature.

Ad managers are constantly bombarded by requests for “incidental” pieces of product literature. Engineers want data sheets explaining some minor technical feature in great detail. Reps selling to small, specialized markets want special literature geared to their particular audience. And each company salesperson wants support literature that fits his or her individual sales pitch. Rather than spend a bundle producing highly technical or application-specific pieces, have your sales and technical staff write articles on these special topics. Then, place the articles with the appropriate journals. Article reprints carry more credibility than self-produced promotional pieces. Best of all, the published article is free advertising for your firm.

6. Explore inexpensive alternatives for generating leads.

Many smaller firms are not concerned with building image or achieving recognition; they simply count bingo-card inquiries. If that describes your approach to advertising, perhaps you shouldn’t be advertising in the first place. New-product releases lead the list as the most economical method of generating leads. Your second-best inquiry-generator is the direct-action postcard pack.

7. Don’t “overbook” outside creative talent.

Hire freelancers and consultants whose credentials — and fees — fit the job and the budget. Top advertising photographers, for example, get $1,000 a day or more, but many competent photographers can shoot a good black-and-white publicity photo for $200 or even less.

8. Do it yourself.

Routine tasks, such as mailing publicity releases, duplicating slides, or retyping media schedules, can be done cheaper in-house than outside. Save the expensive agency or consultant for tasks that really require their expertise.

9. Get the most out of existing art, photography, and copy.

Photos, illustrations, layouts, and even copy created for one promotion can often be lifted and reused in other pieces to significantly reduce creative costs.

10. Pay vendors on time.

You’ll save money by taking advantage of discounts and avoiding late charges when you pay vendor invoices on time. And you’ll gain goodwill that can result in better service and fairer prices on future projects.

Editorial Note: Bob Bly is an independent copywriter and consultant with more than 20 years experience in business-to-business, high-tech, industrial, and direct marketing. Visit his website at http://www.bly.com.