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Marketing on a budget

Not so long ago, in a galaxy not so far away, a dealer may have answered something like this when asked where he spends his marketing budget: “Its important to be everywhere, so we advertise in all three places: newspaper, Yellow Pages and radio.”

This month’s question came from a reader in Kentucky, who wrote: “Our question involves marketing on a budget. There are so many alternatives, but only so much money to go around. Where should the budget be spent to get the most value?” As always, we reached out to our opt-in list of readers for their insights on this tough question, and we got another healthy response to our brief survey. A big thank you to the readers who took time to share their insights into this issue. If you’d like to participate in future surveys, please drop me a note at, and I’ll make sure we add your name to our list.


Before asking ‘the million dollar question,’ we wanted to get an idea of where LBM companies are currently marketing, so we asked: Which of the following does your company use to advertise/market its business? Of the 11 choices listed, websites (at 70.8%) came in as a solid #1, with over 10% more respondents leveraging their website than any other single marketing vehicles.

It is notable that email and social media (both tied at 56.2%) round out the top three most-used choices. What we didn’t ask—but will in an upcoming article—is what percent of their marketing budget goes to each of these. Given the much higher cost of TV, newspaper, Yellow Pages and more, that graph would likely look much different than this one.

Marketing VehiclesQUESTION 2

A dealer is looking for insights from other readers on where to invest a limited marketing budget to get the most value. Is it smarter to spread it around among different media, or to focus on one or two—and if so, which one or two?

“The one way I found is to advertise in the local Shopper, which delivers free to all households in our area. Incorporate a coupon, which you can then track to see how well your ad is working. Use it as a discount, or for a free gift.”

“Website is a must…. Mobile website, free Yelp, free Google. That is how people seem to look for items and services. Also, free listings in shoppers or nickel papers.”

“Local radio and newspapers is always a safe way to go.”

“Consistency in any media is more important than spreading dollars too thin.”

“Email. Get a loyalty program or other means of capturing emails and do that.”

“We are becoming a society that uses our phones for just about everything, so you need to have Web and Google presence.”

“We currently use targeted Facebook paid advertising. It’s very cost-effective and measurable.”

“We only focus on the three categories checked in the previous question. They work for us. And we direct equal attention to all three, just about evenly.”

“If I were going to increase my advertising spending, I would probably concentrate it on social media.” “It is much smarter to be diversified in advertising unless you are a specialty dealer who sells to a particular customer group only.”

“Try to focus on market segments. Pay for social media ‘boosts’ at times. Get employees to help. Targeted emails to specific customer segments. Video on social media can be powerful.”

“Most of our advertising dollars are used to support our customers’ various advertising programs. If not there, the majority is spent in support of HBA trade magazines.”

“Our company is focusing on website, social media and email as our main advertising venues. We feel that these venues are the future.”

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Rick Schumacher

Rick Schumacher is the editor and publisher of LBM Journal, and has more than 24 years experience covering the industry.