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Category Archives: Frugal Marketing

Challenge your assumptions and start saving money!

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There are three main assumptions that small business owners make about their business, and they’re dangerous. They’re restricting a business owner’s capability to solve problems and innovate, making it harder for the entrepreneur to cut costs and speed up entire processes.

The best indicator that these assumptions need to be challenged is that big corporations have already unlocked the potential for growth they were guarding.

The three assumption holding your business back are these:

  1. You need an office or a brick-and-mortar shop to have a “real” business.
  2. You can only look for candidates for your open positions only in your own area.
  3. You get what you pay for.

Let’s talk about them, one by one.

Assumption #1: You need to buy or rent space for your business.

If you’re running a coffee shop, yeah, you’ll probably need to rent a space. If you run a taco truck, you’ll probably need to rent or buy a truck. If you’re recruiting staff, handling accounting, crunching numbers for financial investments, offering coaching sessions or providing any other service that can be done on a laptop or over the phone, you might not need an office. Commuting is stressful, both for you and your employees. A store or an office means paying money on something that has no or little impact on the quality of the service you’re offering. Only a fraction of what you’d normally pay for rent, can give you access to exceptional tools that would allow you to collaborate with your team and contractors and efficiently communicate with customers and serve them.

Assumption #2: You need to hire locally.

There are jobs for which someone’s physical presence is a must, but there are also countless jobs for which remote work delivers the same or even better results. Take it from someone who worked and is still working with people thousands of miles away. It works. You do have to learn how to share what you’re working on and use tools that would help you track time and progress made, but it works.

By hiring remotely, you’re opening your company up to more talented individuals, because your recruiting pool is now the entire planet, and to lower labour costs, because you can now hire people from parts of the world where the cost of living isn’t as high as in your own country.

Assumption #3: You get what you pay for.

You might expect me to say that I’m referring to cheap things that are actually high-quality, but you’d only be half-right. Another important thing, and this causes small business owners more trouble, is something you really need, that costs a lot, and doesn’t deliver. This can be the case with online advertising – buying ad space on niche websites, spending hundreds or thousands of dollars and getting only 2 or 3 clicks in return. This can also be the case with buying services like custom business cards locally, 4-5 time more expensive than in other parts of the world, without having the quality that would explain the huge difference in price.

Working with people who know the prices of services and products across the Globe, and who also regularly test systems and software, can help you spend less money on things that won’t bring in any value.

At Nollar, we’ve never thought we’ll end up recommending suppliers or contractors to our current clients, but ended up doing so because we were shocked to hear how much certain things cost and we knew there were better (and cheaper) way of obtaining the same products or results with the help of other globally-connected professionals.

If you have any questions about saving money while ordering business cards or hiring staff, give us a sign, we might be able to help by connecting you with the right people.

What is Frugal Marketing

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Frugal marketing is the low-cost, creative, ready to turn disadvantages into opportunities type of marketing bootstrapping entrepreneurs turn to when they realize they’ve wasted too much energy, time, and money on vanity metrics. Like in all things, there’s a learning curve to marketing your business, and frugal marketing is rarely the first option because it’s not glamorous or flashy like the expensive type. When you turn to frugal marketing, it’s usually after you’ve burned through a big chunk of your budget and got nothing or almost nothing in return.

You shouldn’t beat yourself up, though. All entrepreneurs make a few wrong steps, and it’s ridiculously easy to make these mistakes when there’s so much buzz around some social media experts and internet marketers, about how much freedom and money your own startup would bring you if you just start, about how easy it’s to handle all things yourself with software automation.

To be effective, marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, but it has to be smart.

At Nollar, we don’t recommend the same old things “experts” recommend when talking about frugal marketing like giveaways, volunteering your time, networking, using your email signature to promote your business. These are indeed free or low-cost, but they’re rarely effective. They’re not helping you differentiate yourself from your competitors. They’re not delivering results as fast or as often as the marketing specialists have you believe. Just because it’s low-cost, it doesn’t mean it has to be half-cocked.

Putting something on the internet is not the same as getting people to see something you’ve put on the internet, and that is something business owners turning to social media without a plan realize as soon as they are confronted with their actual sales.

For us, frugal marketing is about knowing where to display your message as much as what that message is. Some channels are effective, others are just machines designed to scam business owners. Knowing the difference takes effort – examining assumptions against delivered results, running multiple tests, paying attention to what data becomes available and integrating new insights into the process used for making decisions. There are hundreds of websites where you can waste hundreds or thousands of dollars and get 1-2 clicks in return, there are channels that deliver 0 results because they’re not used correctly. There are tricks one can take advantage of to cut the PPC costs on Facebook adverts. There are many solutions business owners can choose, they just need to be open to giving something else a try, something like frugal marketing.

Running a Frugal Business

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Starting a business is easy, keeping it alive is difficult. When you turn your side hustle into an actual business and start hiring staff, things can spiral out of control in weeks if you don’t watch your spending. If you’ve thought about leading a frugal life, you might also be interested in applying the strategies of frugality in your business life:

  • if you can barter, do it
  • always compare prices
  • use cost-free solutions
  • automate time-sapping tasks
  • avoid cash traps
  • reduce waste (time, money, other resources)
  • curb costly habits
  • try outsourcing first
  • have a strict spending diet
  • don’t care what others think
  • seek effectiveness

With financial experts saying a new economic crisis is just around the corner, frugality becomes more and more important. By understanding how to run a frugal business, you’ll manage to save money while your competitors will keep on overspending.

#1 Barter
In the U.S. alone, over 450,000 companies actively participate in barter. Their trade reaches over $12 billion in annual sales. So, no, it wouldn’t be weird to say “hey, I’m low on cash, would you be interested in barter?”. Many other small businesses are struggling to make ends meet, and barter is a good way to get what you need and avoid spending any cash.

#2 Compare Prices
Hiring a new accountant? Ask for at least 3 cost estimates. Buying a new laptop? Check out its price on a few websites. Don’t settle for the first price you are getting. Do a bit of detective work if it could save you some money in the long run.

#3 Use Cost-Free Solutions
Many small business owners buy the same software licenses they used to use when they were employees, but without getting the volume discount their former employer got. For a new business, it makes more sense financially to take advantage of free software solutions (Pixlr, PicMonkey, Google Apps, browser extensions) even if some adjusting time will be necessary.

#4 Automate Time-Sapping Tasks
Use Buffer to schedule your social media posts, use GetResponse to automate your email marketing and boost sales by emailing people after they activate one of the triggers you selected. Visit ifttt.com/recipes and see what IFTTT automations you need.

#5 Avoid Cash Traps
Before signing up for a free service ask yourself if there’s a risk the service will request payment in the future to give you access to what you once got for free. For example: Don’t invest in building a Facebook page if you don’t have the money to pay for reaching your fans, because the organic reach will be too low.

#6 Reduce Waste
Optimize your workflows and production, implement the Kanban system, get informed about what worker efficiency is and how you can achieve it, investigate ways to reduce the time you and your team members waste waiting for somebody else to finish working on something so the next person could intervene. Keep track of what goes into your products and services and what comes out, so you could fix what wastes resources.

#7 Curb Costly Habits
When you’re a small business owner, not reading the fine print of an agreement is more costly than when you are signing up for Netflix. So is taking on too many responsibilities or fixing your employees’ mistakes over and over again. Make sure you know what bad habits you need to kick.

#8 Try Outsourcing First
One of the worst things new entrepreneurs do is hire the wrong people. You can hire too soon, hire the wrong people, expect the wrong thing, pay too much just because you want to be a “good boss”. Outsource for a month the position you’d like to fill locally. You’ll find out how much you can actually pay, what to look for in a candidate, what to expect, and what to ask from your employee.

#9 Strict Spending Diet
Take your projected cash flow into consideration when you are planning your monthly expenses and track every single thing you want to buy. Make sure you only buy what you really need, and that you’re not passing you monthly limit.

#10 Don’t Care What Others Think
Some will say you don’t have a real business if you’re working from home, others that you should change your wardrobe because you can’t be an entrepreneur if you’re wearing a hoodie, not a suit. F*** ‘em! Work from home. Move into an office only if you really must. Keep your personal shopping to a minimum. Don’t buy (or pay for things) just to fit into expensive social norms.

#11 Seek Effectiveness
Pay attention to who is complaining that a marketing tactic failed miserably, check out this list of websites on which you should never run your ads, ask people how much they pay for PPC advertising, content creation and seeding, etc. If you pay attention, you’ll find cheap and efficient ways to promote and run your business.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and help them go frugal!