Marketing on a budget? Try these 3 strategies.

May 24, 2023

Tax season may be over, but we’re already dreading next year. Some potential good news: The IRS is reportedly working on a free direct filing system, similar to TurboTax. The IRS, making tax filing easier? Someone pinch us.

Hot off the SMB press this week: 

  • A process template for setting department budgets.
  • What to do when other businesses are copying you.
  • How to master marketing with fewer resources.


Template of the week: Department Budgeting Process

Department Budgeting Process template banner.

Since the days of ancient Rome, we’ve known that “it takes money to make money.” But that doesn’t mean that we can be willy-nilly when it comes to our business expenses — otherwise, we can say good-bye to profit and hello to debt. So, how do you start organizing your expenses and finances so that your teams can prioritize spending for the resources that will support their objectives and goals? 

👉 The answer: our Department Budgeting Process template, which outlines the importance of budgeting and the step-by-step procedure of managing your finances effectively. That way, your departments can forecast future expenses, set cost targets, and adjust budgets as needed to stay on track and reach your overall business goals.

Can’t wait a whole week for your next template? Check out our entire template archive of free, multimedia-enhanced, and customizable policy, process, and role starters. New to Trainual? Try for free.


Tell us if any of these are you:

  • You’re ready to take your business to the next level — but you’re not sure how.
  • You want to organize your company knowledge in a way that’s easy for your team to understand — but you’re not sure how.
  • You need to delegate tasks so you can get out of your business to work on your business — but you’re not sure how.
  • You’ve taken the first step to scaling your business by signing up for Trainual and you want to take advantage of all the features it has to offer — but you’re not sure how.

What you need is a comprehensive resource that can teach you everything you need to know about documenting how your business does what it does, down to each role, responsibility, business strategy, and differentiator. And we’re going to give it to you — for free! Coming June 6 to a (computer) screen near you.

How to Build a Business Playbook banner.


This week's highlight reel

  • WTFrontier. Rumor has it the airline’s gate agents are charging passengers oversized luggage fines for bags that are the appropriate size because they get a bonus for every too-big bag they catch. (Remember: Fines are $100 a bag, which is sometimes steeper than the plane ticket itself. Oof.) And if they think putting cute animals on their plane tails makes up for it… they can think again. 
  • [Delete.] Google has big plans to start killing things off. Including passwords, which they plan to replace with more secure personal identifiers like fingerprints and face IDs. Plus, they’re deleting all personal Google accounts that haven’t been touched in two years. So if you’ve got standard operating procedures (SOPs) in old Google Docs, it’s time to move them over to Trainual (where they’ll stay safe and sound forever!).
  • Get a life, hackers. According to cybersecurity experts, WordPress recently experienced a glitch that could have jeopardized up to 2M websites. Yikes. Apparently, the plugins used by the content management system (CMS) make it more vulnerable to cross-site scripting attacks. If you use any CMS, make sure you’re taking the right steps to secure your account
  • … it folds. North Carolina might be adding itself to the growing list of states where small businesses are required to accept cash payments. The idea is to make goods and services available to more folks — since not everyone has a bank account and many people live paycheck to paycheck (cashing each one immediately). If you don’t currently accept cash payments, consider jumping on the bandwagon — it may help you reach more customers!


How to deal with copycat competitors

A man complaining about someone copying him.

Stop copying me! Stop copying me!
Who else had to deal with the annoying younger sibling who wouldn’t stop playing the copycat game? In hindsight, it can be cute coming from a four-year-old — less so when it’s coming from a business that’s copying your every move.

Can’t you sue them and call it a day?
It’s a bit more complicated than that. Sure, blatant plagiarism is straight-up stealing, and you’ve got the law on your side. But sometimes, your copycat is putting their own spin on your ideas — and if they’re doing it better than you, you’ve got some legit competition on your hands.

That means you’ll need a strategy to maintain your business success and prove that your original is the best. So, here are three tips for how your SMB should handle copycat competition:

1. Imitation is flattery — but do a legal checklist.
A common (and valid) reaction to someone copying your business is fury. But think about it this way: Your business idea is doing so well that someone is trying to reach that same level of success by imitating your work. You can feel a little flattered. 

After you pat yourself on the back, check if your copycat is breaking any laws. Are they using any of your trademarks or copyrights? Are they committing trade dress infringement (AKA, when their product resembles yours just enough to confuse consumers)? If you answered yes, get a lawyer on the phone.

👉 Read on for more tips.


You can do more with less in marketing. Here’s how.

Woman on a budget.

My interest is piqued. We’ve got a tight marketing budget.
We’ve got good news: Building your brand and generating revenue can happen on a reduced budget and with limited resources. Now, we’re not saying it’s easy. But there are definitely ways to get the most out of the resources you do have. 

Here are three strategies to make your marketing budget stretch further.

1. Learn the right way to analyze marketing spend.
To figure out which efforts are actually bringing in revenue, you’ve got to determine the costs that are higher and lower in the funnel. AKA, break down where your dollars are going (the right way) so you can make informed decisions on where to put them next. 

Here are a few crucial ways to analyze your current marketing spend:

  • Calculate your CPO. A low cost per opportunity (CPO) for your sales team tells you your marketing efforts are generating the right type of leads at the right cost and your reps are moving leads from prospect to close. (Booyah.) A high CPO simply means you’re not generating the right type of leads — so some trial and error with other marketing channels is needed.
  • Calculate your CAC. Your customer acquisition cost (CAC) is the amount spent on sales and marketing to gain a new customer over a specified time period — including everything from campaign spending to salaries to commissions. Remember you can always adjust the marketing channels and campaigns you’re spending on as you learn which ones are the most effective and drive the most revenue.
  • Get more info from your leads. Asking your customers how they heard about you gives you invaluable insight for future marketing spend. So be sure to ask for this at every opportunity (when a prospect tries you out, when someone signs up for your newsletter, and so on).

👉 See two more marketing strategies.

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