The common tone going into 2012 is cautious optimism. Economies remain very fragile and so lavish spending on your marketing would be a high risk activity. Instead, focus in 2012 on your high payoff activities and leverage the abundance of low cost, no cost marketing tools available to you. From a budget standpoint, try to secure a monthly amount that won’t increase debt (i.e. avoid ramping up credit lines or credit cards) and instead look at what you can realistically spend to acquire a new client. If this is less than what you have spent in the past, then you should really be reaching out to a strategist, like me, to help you figure out how to get a bigger bang for your buck.

Video – video marketing is becoming more and more mainstream. Use them for testimonials, to explain a concept on your site, for product tutorials, or even to share great content on your area of expertise. The good news is you don’t need to necessarily invest in high cost camera work or production. Instead you can use a good webcam or video on your phone and edit with low cost software yourself.  You can house your videos for free on your own You Tube channel (also the second largest search engine after Google) and embed from there onto your site or blog.

Engagement – with the economy still being vicarious, solidifying relationships with your network, prospects and clients is key. It’s not enough to just have a Twitter account without posting, following and engaging others. Plan ways to get people to truly connect with you – ask questions, respond to comments, hold contests, and automate some of your communications to ensure you don’t drop the ball.

Leverage Mobile Technology – it’s interesting to look at your Google Analytics for your site and see how much traffic is coming these days from mobile devices. Converting your site to operate correctly on smartphones should be your next major web development. Consider creating useful apps and make sure you take advantage of QR codes to share information, not to mention for better tracking of your marketing initiatives.

Moving the Free Line – if giving something for free has become the norm in your industry, consider upping your game. Look at your products and services. Are there some low cost opportunities that you can now give away, something your competitor’s would actually charge for? Consider giving this away for free and offering an even better quality paid product or service. Crazy, I know, but effective!

Whatever you do, make sure, as usual, you focus on your sweet spot and you differentiate yourself from the competition. Strategy before tactics is like an ounce of prevention for a pound of cure!

AvatarCidnee Stephen

Cidnee Stephen is the owner of Strategies for Success, a marketing company that focuses on the needs of budget minded small businesses and professional services. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.