Marketing your business or nonprofit takes time and money. But as we all know, money doesn’t grow on trees and most of us don’t have unlimited resources. So managing your budget and cash flow is essential to the health of your organization.

We aren’t accountants so this isn’t an article on how to manage your cash flow, however, we do know something about marketing. And we know that it can be very easy to waste marketing dollars, which we don’t want you to do.

So here is our list of ways you can quickly squander your marketing budget if you aren’t careful along with simple ways to reduce your spend.

1. Don’t set goals. But if you do, don’t plan your marketing based on your goals.

Budget buster: When you don’t have goals or a plan, everything sounds good. Marketing at this point is like throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. You might find that works but you’ll waste a lot in the effort.

Budget saver: Make a marketing plan based on a clear understanding of your target audience. This will help you focus your marketing spend on activities that will reach your audience. Without a plan it’s much easier to react and say yes to anything that sounds good, even it if it’s not reaching the right people.

2. Subscribe to monthly services you don’t need and then forget about them.

Budget buster: It’s only $15 a month, or so the thinking goes. There are some great subscription services (e.g., email tools like Mailchimp or social media management tool Buffer) that are only a few dollars each month. However, it’s easy to sign up, enter your credit card information, and then forget about it.

Budget saver: Make sure you need the service you are paying for. Is there a free version that would do the same thing? If you aren’t using it, cancel it.

3. Don’t measure the results of your marketing activities.

Budget buster: Keep spending on those Facebook ads. It makes you feel good to see your name out there, right? Not every marketing activity is going to work. Not every ad is a home run.

Budget saver: Track the results of your activities so you can turn off what’s not working and focus on what is.

4. Say yes to every salesperson offering you the “best marketing option ever.”

Budget buster: You probably get calls from salespeople who offer you the latest and greatest marketing tool guaranteed to generate an ROI and fill your sales funnel (or other sales mumbo jumbo). Saying yes to them without a plan (see #1) will help you spend your budget faster than a teenager at the mall.

Budget saver: Make a plan, stick to it, and stretch your budget further. When you know you have a marketing campaign for later in the year that will require 20% of your marketing budget, it becomes easier to say no to that very friendly salesperson.

5. Try to figure out how to do all your marketing on your own.

Budget buster: Experts seem to be expensive. Your best bet is to watch a few how to videos on YouTube instead. After all, how hard can designing and building an effective website be?

Budget saver: The reality is that, in some cases, working with an expert can greatly increase your marketing ROI by getting it done right the first time. The thing to remember here is the value of your time. Sometimes it makes sense to try it yourself while other times it makes more sense to call in the pros.

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6. Don’t automate anything.

Budget buster: Keep everything manual. Don’t automate emails or any other marketing related process. Don’t use tools like Full Contact or Zapier. And definitely stay away from marketing automation tools like Infusionsoft and HubSpot.

Budget saver: Actually, these are pretty handy tools that can make your life a lot simpler. It’s important to remember the value of your time. Sometimes it’s worth paying a few bucks for a service that will automate repetitive, manual processes for you. But keep #2 in mind.

7. Spend time and money on marketing activities that won’t reach your audience or that are no longer relevant.

Budget buster: Just advertise somewhere. Maybe a newspaper ad would be a good investment. Or, if you are marketing to senior citizens, definitely jump on Snapchat.

Budget saver: Lots of companies and nonprofits spend money and time on marketing channels that don’t reach the right audience. You may like Instagram, but if your customers aren’t there, don’t waste time or money building your Instagram presence.

8. Pay for tools you might be able to get for free.

Budget buster: Sometimes the paid version of a service is just what you need. It may have the features you really need. But sometimes, it’s just a waste of money.

Budget saver: There are free tools that are very robust. For customer relationship management software (CRM) there are free tools like HubSpot CRM; for project management Asana offers a very robust tool that won’t cost you a dime. Perhaps you need stock photos; sites such as Pexels and Unsplash offer a good decent selection of quality stock photos that don’t leave you scratching your head.

Marketing should generate a return for your organization. We want to see you stretch your budget and grow, not waste money on something that’s not going to help. So if you have other suggestions you would like to add to this list, please share in the comments below.

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