There are few things that hurt an entrepreneur more than spent money without an ROI. Most small business owners contact us after their marketing efforts end up burning through their budget with little to no return.

But it’s understandable since it’s easy for small companies to bet big on marketing tactics that don’t apply to the business model or have become less than efficient in the past couple of years. The key when managing a limited marketing budget is figuring out where to cut your losses and re-directing the money to where it really matters.

Keep in mind that although most of the popular marketing strategies will end up boosting your brand’s awareness, not all strategies are fit to use with small businesses. In fact, some of them might actually burn through your budget without even the slightest differences in sales.

With this in mind, here’s a list of recommendations that will spare your small business marketing budget from being wasted on ineffective marketing strategies:

Make sure you’re targeting the right audience

This is a thing often overlooked by small business owners who have just put together a marketing budget. It might make sense to try and attract a spectrum of customers as broad as possible, but that’s only viable with multi-million corporations with enormous sales departments. Applying the same tactic to a small business model is a surefire way to donate your marketing budget.

In order to be efficient, you need to learn your target audience. Learn to adapt your marketing strategy and create content based on their behavior and intent. Your main focus here should be to reach your audience and nothing else. But in order to this, you need to figure out what your audience wants, where they want it (geographic location) and why they buy from you versus the competitors.

Here are a few more pointers that will help you study the target audience of your business:

Understand how you attracted your whales

For most small-to-medium businesses, the top 15% of customers are accounting for at least half of the total stream of revenue. Since those are your biggest money makers (also referred to as whales), you need to study them even harder and figure out which of your deployed marketing tactics has managed to lure them in.

Once you get to know your top customers, focus on attracting even more whales by redirecting your marketing budget towards attracting the same buyer persona.

Don’t invest too much in video marketing

We hailed video marketing as one of the most efficient forms of engaging with your audiences. Even more, we’re absolutely convinced that video marketing in this form or another is the future of content marketing.

But even if video marketing is a killer strategy, don’t just go and pour every penny into employing the services of a production company. As with everything in the marketing realm, video marketing is only effective if it’s done in a consistent matter.

While a single product presentation video will gain little traction on social media, a weekly product review will usually drive more views and generate a lot more engagement.

If your business is still in it’s emerging phase, try to plan your video marketing strategy carefully and go for inexpensive solutions at first to test things out. Instead of spending everything you got on a professional production team, hire someone from Fiverr or Upwork that’s able to produce decent quality videos, release them on your social channels and see how they perform.

Don’t expect influencers to do all the work

Influencers are becoming increasingly more important, but relying too heavily on them to market a business is a mistake that many small business owners make. The truth is, using influencers is not viable for every kind of business. Even more, there’s no effective way of tracking their influence to the sales that you end up making.

A few social posts from a local influencer might not produce the level of engagement that you’re looking for from their fan bases. We’ve seen this happen with a lot of small businesses that only create products for small niche markets.

If you’re keen on using influencers for your business, make sure you manage to identify the best local influencers for your particular niche. But don’t go for the big ones – that’s certainly not cost-effective. Instead, look for micro-influencers because they are a lot more affordable and their audience is much more engaged.

Watch the video below for some additional know-how on using micro-influencers to drive sales.

Don’t use too many social media channels

Social media is a huge place, and it’s perfectly fine if your business is not present on every social media channel. Often times, small business owners are misunderstanding the use of social media.

Focusing on enlarging your online following is a severe waste of time and money. Your business should be present on social media to identify the target audience and engage with them as effectively as possible.

We always encourage owners to keep their niche in mind when they start creating business pages on various social media channels. If you own an accounting firm, there’s a high chance that an Instagram account will be totally useless.

Take some time to analyze the demographics of each social media platform and figure out where your target audience spends most of their time. Then, use this knowledge to make an ideal plan for social media.

Don’t invest in building a social media following

As I’ve mentioned above, building a large following on social media should not be a focus for your small business. This might have netted you new leads back when Facebook’s organic reach was still acceptable, but with the latest algorithms adjustments, it’s not worth it anymore.

The way it is right now, it’s very likely that business owners will need to pay for ads in order to get their content seen on social media. Because of this, pouring resources into getting as many followers/likes as possible will not get you anywhere.

Avoid getting overly dependent on paid advertising

Most small business owners opt for an AdWords or Facebook Ads campaign looking for instant gratification. While paid advertising is a reliable feed of traffic, it will quickly burn through your money while the conversions will remain at the minimum.

I’m not saying that paid advertising is bad because it’s one of the few secure methods of encouraging growth. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t rely on it as the main source of your website’s traffic.

You should only use paid advertising as a complementary source of traffic to the other traffic channels. This way, you won’t get into any kind of trouble as your business scales.

Never bet big on a single ad campaign

There are so many different marketing approaches available, but not all of them will work. At least, not from the first attempt. Going all-in on a single ad campaign is less than ideal since you’re essentially putting all your hopes into a single bullet. As a rule of thumb, whenever you’re thinking of launching a new ad campaign, you need to test it first.

Let’s say you have $1,000 allocated for a new marketing ad campaign. Instead of blowing it all at once, start by spending just 10% of it and see how it performs. Take the time to analyze the conversions and see if the campaign starts looking like a smart investment. If the ad campaign worked with 100$, it’s very likely that it will work with $1000 or more.

And if it fails, you’ve just saved yourself enough money to try a different marketing approach.