As digital marketers, we're faced with endless possibilities to reach our customers, and new possibilities arise daily. However, we don't always have the budget we'd like in order to try something new. As such, we get stuck in the mindset of saying "no" to new opportunities before even exploring them.
However, there are a few marketing risks you can take that won't break the bank. Many of them might just open up new ways to connect your audience with your brand. All of the opportunities in this article can be done for less than $10,000, which makes them fairly safe marketing risks that are well worth taking.
Create something new
One worthwhile marketing risk is to create new content. Depending on your in-house resources, some of these might technically be free. Take advantage of the opportunity to get creative by trying something new and different than some of your safer tactics or existing content.
YouTube proved long ago that not every video you create for your brand has to have Hollywood production values. Short, personal videos, quick animations, and whiteboard stop-motion videos can provide great shareable content that your audiences can access through your website or social media channels.
Consider making a series of Vines that show off your brand or products. It doesn't take a lot of work to create a six-second video that shows off your brand's character and gets your audiences talking and sharing.
Another approach could be having your sales staff or customer service reps do quick interviews with customers. For the cost of a few cameras that you provide to your employees (these days, most smartphones take high-quality video) and some inexpensive video editing software (if you don't have it already), you could be well on your way to creating great, personal video content.
2012 might have been the "year of the infographic," but that doesn't mean that they aren't still popular or relevant in 2013. For a relatively small investment, you can have one -- or even a series -- of infographics created. You might consider strategically using infographics as a second content marketing venue to strengthen an existing marketing effort.
Does your agency charge more than $10,000 for the kind of infographic you want to make? Consider creating your own with a service such as Piktochart that lets your create custom infographics on a budget.
Want to test out some new messaging but don't have the funds to research new copy or create a complex set of new landing pages? Consider using a service like Optimizely to quickly and easily test your messages and get valuable feedback -- without maxing out your marketing dollars.
You can divert a small portion of your advertising traffic there (in keeping with the spirit of this article, I would suggest less than $10,000) and get some helpful insights from this small test.
Give something back
One sure-fire way to get your customers' attention is to offer them something. Or at least offer them the chance to win something in exchange for their participation on your marketing channels. Below are a couple of ways you can do just that quickly and easily.
Run a contest
Contests are a great way to get new and existing fans to interact with your brand, and they don't always have to involve outrageously expensive prizes. Use a product you offer as a prize (since your existing audience is already interested in it) or choose a prize that fits the interests of your target audience. Then you can use a low-cost service like Offerpop to run the contest and save the money it might take to create a custom contest app or website.
Help an organization in need
There's no downside to this one. Find a few nonprofit or cause-related organizations that your audiences would like to support and pledge to donate up to $10,000 based on the amount of participation you receive in an online event or user-generated content initiative. For example, you'll donate $1 for every retweet with your hashtag. Or let your customers choose which organization they'd like you to donate the money to by allowing them to vote for their favorite nonprofit every time they submit a photo that includes your product.
With this idea, you'll learn which causes are important to your customers -- and do some good in the process. And the contest can be as simple as uploading photos to Instagram with a hashtag; it doesn't need to involve creating a complex application. While $10,000 won't solve all of the world's problems, it could make a huge difference to an organization that helps others in need.
Use a new channel
You're probably already advertising on several channels that are optimized and performing well. What if you want to test out one or two new platforms that might be a good fit, but you don't want to jeopardize your existing advertising budget that's working so well?
Your $10,000 budget won't get you the mass exposure that some of your other efforts give, but it might give you the opportunity to test out a few new advertising tactics.
You might already be advertising on Facebook and Twitter, but which other channels have you considered? Advertising efforts on channels like Reddit and StumbleUpon have been hugely successful for some marketers and, depending on your audiences, could work well for you too.
Take a look around the web and find some other unconventional channels with which it might be worth experimenting. You might be surprised by how far your budget takes you.
Take a new look at your data
As you know, marketing isn't always about what you produce for your audiences. It's always important to analyze the effectiveness of your existing efforts, even if you don't have access to the most high-end enterprise reporting tools.
There are several low-cost monitoring tools such as Sprout Social or UberVU that can give great insights into your marketing efforts. For much less than $10,000 for the year, you can subscribe to one of these and gain some new perspectives on what your audience is reacting to and how they are participating in the conversations you want your brand to be a part of.
There are a couple of different approaches here. For our $10,000 budget, you could choose one of many SEO tools out there. Between the monthly cost of SEOmoz and the cost it might take to make a few well-needed SEO-related upgrades to your website, you are most likely within budget.
Or you could take that budget and hire a consultant to do a more full-featured search engine optimization analysis. Chances are you might use your entire budget on the analysis and recommendations alone and might not have money left over for the changes, but many times an in-depth analysis will uncover a lot of things that an automated tool cannot.
You can make this call based on the current performance of your site. If some small changes are all you need, try the former. If the competition is clobbering your site, it's probably worth choosing the latter.
With a tightly controlled budget, it's often hard to justify allocating a large amount toward something new, but that doesn't mean you can't try a few small things that won't put too much of a dent in your marketing spend.
Whether it's creating some new content, running a contest, doing a small advertising spend on an unconventional channel, or taking a step back and analyzing your marketing efforts using a new reporting tool, there are many ways to try something new.
Better yet, you don't always have to have a large budget to do something a little different or take a risk you might not normally take. Consider always allocating a little bit of your marketing budget to examining new opportunities, stepping into unfamiliar territory, or just taking a new look at how you're approaching your audiences.
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