Finding $ for marketing: The challenges for non-profits and small businesses

I have a few urgent messages from sales people on my voicemail. You know the drill – they tease you with a white paper or something to download and then all of a sudden they are contacting you urgently. I went to the pricing section of one of the caller’s companies and they charge $500 a month for their service. No wonder he’s calling. However, I work with small businesses and non-profits, and I manage my own small business, $500 a month is not in the budget. And I’m not sure that it should ever be in any budget for an organization under 10,000 people. Unfortunately, so many small businesses need these great services but can’t afford them. Every non-profit I have come across in the past year wants to devote money to marketing but either can’t or can barely afford to hire the level of professional they need. Even some of the small businesses I’ve consulted with just can’t wrap their brains around hiring someone to do social media for anything over 40K. What are small businesses and cash-strapped organizations to do? I am pretty economically priced but I know the disadvantage it presents to not be able to use the latest analytics and measuring technology to see if it’s really worth spending money on. Yeah, ROI. Some of the social monitoring software starts at $60 a month – that’s just to manage your posts and monitor their effectiveness all in one pretty user interface. If you are trying to keep the lights on, that’s an expenditure you can’t justify. It’s a conundrum. Everyone needs marketing but coming up with money to spend on marketing is another issue. Some companies have it and won’t spend it on outreach, digital or otherwise. Others don’t have it to spend on marketing of any kind but know without it, they won’t survive. These are the issues that keep some small business owners and managers up at night. I suggest flexibility. For instance, I work remotely for several clients. They simply can’t afford to hire me full-time, however, I can work on retainer and deliver results creating a win, win for all parties. Yes, it’s different. Working remotely isn’t for everyone. And managing a remote worker isn’t for everyone, either. It’s challenging because many companies can’t imagine not seeing a person tied to a desk in this high-profile role performing exceptionally in a virtual manner. But here’s the reality – being flexible will be the only way many smaller firms and organizations will be able to participate in emerging media platforms. Expertise costs. And the tools to be an expert are expensive, too. Be open, be flexible and the right pro can come in and be quite effective! This can work, I know from experience. Welcome to the new normal!

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