Scrappy Marketing Plan: How To Implement Strategic Marketing On A Budget

Last year, businesses spent an average of $5.6 million to air a 30-second long commercial during the Super Bowl LV broadcast. Obviously, we can’t all afford to spend our marketing budget on massive marketing campaigns like this. But, there are ways to maximize your marketing spend in a way that works for your business, your audience, and your bottom line.

We call it scrappy marketing.

Scrappy marketing means producing the best you can with the least amount of resources possible for the client. In other words: cutting out the inefficiencies and redundancies that tend to find their way in with larger budgets (like blowing nearly $6 million in 30 seconds). 

Scrappy marketing strategies mean every dollar of a marketing budget has an assignment, a purpose and a positive impact on ROI. 

If you’re just starting to create your strategic marketing plan and have a budget to prioritize (all of us small businesses do), these six steps are where you need to start.

6 Steps To Creating a Strategic Marketing Plan On A Budget

Define your competitive advantage 

It’s absolutely crucial that you first understand what your competitive edge is in the marketplace. Having this foundation set will allow you to truly differentiate yourself from the competition and sell yourself to your target audience through authentic and reliable strategies.

A few ways you can do this on a budget include:

  • Complete a SWOT Analysis
  • Invest in market research
  • Research market trends
  • Understand your market share

From here, you can create your value proposition, or the value your marketing needs to deliver, communicate and acknowledge throughout every marketing program. To really define your differentiation, bring your team together to brainstorm a mission statement, 

core values, manifestos and more. These marketing messages will turn into templates for every marketing effort moving forward.

Establish your business goals

Every business has its own goals, and marketing initiatives play just one small role in the entire business plan. Before you start thinking about the ins and outs of your marketing mix or listing out a long-form list of marketing tactics you want to undertake, you need to 

first consider where your business is at today and where you want it to go in the future. These should be a combination of internal beliefs and external factors. 

Too often we see businesses come to us saying, “We want to do X, Y, and Z marketing tactics” without really understanding how it plays into their overall business strategy. Thinking about marketing in pieces instead of a small piece of an entire whole of your business is the quickest way to spend more time and money than you have on things that won’t actually move the needle for your goals. 

Questions to ask when starting your marketing strategy: 

  1. What is a new customer worth to us?
  2. How much can we spend to acquire a new customer?
  3. How much are we willing to spend to acquire a new customer?
  4. What are my marketing objectives?

These answers will help your marketing team understand exactly where they should head with their strategies without being blinded by your long list of marketing activities.

Define your target audience 

Start by defining your target customers, this helps to make sure you’re putting your efforts in the right place. Trying to reach everyone is a quick way to waste money and appeal to no one. 

Consider who buys most often and what keeps them coming back. These answers will give you a clear picture of who your potential customers are and what they want to see from your overall marketing approach. 

Once you have that down, we encourage you to take it one step farther into market segmentation, where you create a more approachable list of your ideal customer and what their personas are. 

Dividing your audience into market segments will allow you to better understand what type of characteristics they share and make the next step even easier. 

Things to define within your target market include: 

  • Who are they (demographics, beliefs, etc.)
  • How they found you (social media, referral, organic search)
  • What marketing channels they prefer
  • What this type of customer needs
  • What decision criteria apply to them
  • The level of difficulty to convert (easy, medium, hard)

This will allow you to truly tailor your message within the next step. 

Finalize your marketing message

Now that you know who you’re speaking to and where you’ll speak to them, sit down and craft your message. 

What does your audience need to hear from you to convert? Maximize your budget by defining a few messaging points to leverage that will allow you to test and learn faster than only using one at a time. 

Try a few things out to see what gets consumers to react, then optimize the message and the channels every few months by doing more of what’s working and trying something else out.

Marketing is not “set it and forget it” or “build it and they will come” — it’s constant iteration.

Create the right strategic marketing process 

As you get ready to launch your new marketing message to your defined target audience, you need to figure out how and where you’re going to reach them. Whether it’s a content marketing approach via social media or a blog, or paid media marketing with specific benchmarks and metrics, it’s important to understand and define your distribution channels in a way that makes sense for your business. 

This is absolutely a test-and-learn approach. Once you begin to learn what triggers your target audience to purchase, continue to expand your efforts in that channel. 

For example, if you have high email open rates, conversation rates, and site traffic from general communication to your audience, try something more complicated like a drip campaign based on the content they engage with. 

If something is working, do more of it. Maximize it. Figure out how you can change it in a way that teaches you something important. 

Keeping that start-up mindset throughout your strategy is the key to maximizing your return without burnout of your message and your budget. 

Hire the right marketing team

All of this only works if you have the right team on your side, aligned with your marketing goals and approach. 

Whether FTE’s or partners (like a digital agency) or a combination of both, hiring the right individuals will ensure the right team members with the right knowledge sets are helping craft the right acquisition targets to lead towards a positive trajectory on business growth.

evan_kirsch_ceo_thinkingbiggermediaEvan Kirsch is the CEO of MAKE Digital Group, an innovative digital marketing agency that partners with small businesses to create forward-thinking marketing strategies. Over the past 12 years, Evan has navigated clients from coast to coast along their pursuit for marketing excellence. To schedule a free analysis of your current marketing strategy, email Evan at


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