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Ep. 67 Money – How We Blew Our Marketing Budget

by | Smart AF Show

marketing budget mistakes

Wasting Money – How We Blew Our Marketing Budget

Where should you spend your marketing bucks? Ads? A billboard? A commercial? The Chamber? BNI? Facebook? What will actually bring in customers???

Sometimes you don’t know what works until it works. Or doesn’t. And even marketers blow money on marketing.

Torie Mathis and her cohost Sean go over some of the biggest money and time wasters they’re guilty of…and give you some heads up on what actually works – for any business.

Get SMART AF resources and tools to grow your business at besmartaf.com

Listen or watch the full episode below:



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(transcription is auto-generated)

SAF 67

Torie: [00:00:00] I had no idea how you actually got clients. So I bought a list of new businesses from the county. Yep. No. Oh my gosh. 

Sean: [00:00:17] And it felt dirty.

Torie: [00:00:18] Hey, welcome to Smart AF on your host Torie Mathis. We’ve got a great show for you today. So let’s get started. Hey guys, welcome to the show. I’m your host Torie Mathis, and I’m here with the one and only founder of Miles Through Time Automotive Museum, Torie Mathis her partner in crime. It’s Sean Mathis.

Sean: [00:00:37] That’s me. 

Torie: [00:00:38] So we were talking about, about, this is a great time to be in business because there are all kinds of ways that you can advertise your business for free. Like you can really spend your money well, and know where your money is, bringing people in. This wasn’t always the case.

In fact, we’re gonna talk about ways that we have wasted a shit ton of money on advertising. That didn’t work,

Sean: [00:01:02] Man it’s sickening. 

Torie: [00:01:04] You know what though? I think that you gotta waste some money here and there it’s one of those like you gotta fail forward, you gotta figure some stuff out. And sometimes lessons are rougher than others.

And, some people might have been in business for a really long time and are just not grasping all of the technology and the opportunities that are available online. And so I’m sure that some of you have had some of these fun times, 

Sean: [00:01:30] But I think to compare it does make it sink in a little bit more that, some of these newer ways of digitally marketing are a lot more effective than, Some of the more traditional older ways that you had no idea.

When you’re dealing with a $500 budget and you’re like here, put this out on a billboard and I hope it works versus spending the same $500 and honing in a Facebook ad for a specific event that draws in, thousand people into the museum. It’s a no brainer to compare the two. 

Torie: [00:02:08] So when I first started my business, so I was doing publishing and I was doing real estate magazines. And when the real estate market came crashing down we lost all of our clients because literally we only had real estate clients, except for three clients who stayed. And I actually still have one of those to this day. And I started doing that in 2006 and I am still making those magazines so that one client.

So when I first went out on my own, after that I had no idea how to get clients because my experience was with real estate magazines. Like they knew who realtors were. There was a convention that they went to, and I think that they actually cold called a lot of them. With the state yo people. So that was what I saw or, I worked for my dad’s business for a while and he did a lot of government contracting.

And so that is where his leads came in. Before that, I worked for an audio video kind of type company and they had contracts with builders. And so that’s where their people came in. Like I had no idea. How you actually got clients. So I bought a list of new businesses from the county. Yep. 

Sean: [00:03:32] Did you get anything from that?

Torie: [00:03:34] Oh my gosh. 

Sean: [00:03:35] And it felt dirty. 

Torie: [00:03:36] Then I didn’t even know what I had. Cool. I have a new business. I didn’t even know what to do with it then. It wasn’t like just phone numbers, not even email. Yeah. It would have been like 2007. So yeah, I had this list that I bought. I spent money. I had some people, no, I never got one customer from that.

So then I was like, okay, I’m a veteran, I’m a woman. I can be a veteran owned business. Oh, Lordy. So veteran owned women owned. I looked up like every single certification I could get. And I was like, I’m gonna do that, then I’m gonna be listed on these websites. People get to choose me, man. You know what  I got five crappy ass clients.

Like the worst clients ever, like I’m so sorry to quote requests. Oh my gosh. People just shopping and then, oh, it was just like, I won’t even go into it. It was more dirty than buying the list. It was not cool. They weren’t just. Like you would think. I thought okay, I’m military people will want to choose me because I’m military and responsible and no, they just want the cheapest because they’re trying to make the most money on their job, which I totally get.

And so they only want to use you as the smallest part of their jobs so they can get military contracts is what I ended up like. Those are the people that I got and it was, they weren’t nice. They weren’t they didn’t care that I was a small business. They wanted to pay me on 90-day term.

Some of them were like even more I can’t, I couldn’t do that. I was one person brand new so any type of design or printing, came to me and it was bad. And one of those clients I had for a year, and they were just like, Dick me around with paying me and they’re like, does no, there’s a kg.

Wait for that. He’s not that oh, 

Sean: [00:05:23] Can’t you just pay it. 

Torie: [00:05:24] Then fucking just pay it. All right. Oh my goodness. So I wasted money and trying to get all of these different certifications, like in all this costs money. Like you didn’t, you just have one of those. And you were like, I didn’t realize it was gonna cost money, some sams thing. What was that? Sam? It was some federal. 

Sean: [00:05:42] Oh yeah. I wound up going down some rabbit hole of veteran owned businesses again. And so I’m still like yeah, hell yeah. Veteran owned. 

Torie: [00:05:49] He didn’t talk to me guys. 

Sean: [00:05:51] At first I saw I just needed a DUNS number. So I knew we already had that. And then I got that part down and it’s now you need a Sam’s number.

I’m like, what the hell is that? So I go and I go to try to get that one. Oh, that one, you got to pay a shit ton of money. 

Torie: [00:06:06] Can I tell you something first? Put your email address in for that. 

Sean: [00:06:10] I did it specifically because it’s all under your name. It’s not my business technically. So just to avoid any potential issues as your email, I’m like, Hey, I need to get a code or something.

Get it from your email. And you’re overwhelmed with emails anyway. So I assume you’ve already, won’t even see them half the time. But it was like, I want to say it was oh, $600 just to get the Sam number and the directory, which you then needed to be able to get just veteran owned certification or something like, why the hell can I just show a DD two 14 and we’ll call it good 

Torie: [00:06:43] Because they’re a business. Just trying to build some directory. Wasted money, man. So those were definitely not good. Yeah, but you know what? I have never for myself for my own business, because I learned oh, anytime I would try to do any type of advertising like that. Because I’m a service-based business and it was only me and I had to work so closely and personally with these people like advertising that way, like I wasn’t able at the time to be able to flesh out the good people.

So the ones that I got, they were just horrible. So for me, like referrals and networking and like actually going out and talking to real people. So you could feel like. If there was a good connection like that you would actually want to work with them. Yeah. Okay. Wasted money. You did BNI.

Sean: [00:07:35] Yeah, I did.

Torie: [00:07:36] Okay. So when Sean stopped working corporate and he came and started working with me and we started working together the kids were still super little, like I can’t really go out and do things when I have kids. Like I, I never sent the kids to any type of daycare or anything. I’m a stay at home. Mom and I had already been running my business from home.

So I was like, I’ve already done it. I’ll just keep doing it. And so that’s just what I did and it worked. And so I never really went out to chamber or networking. So when Sean came on, I was like, duh. So Sean joined BNI, which is expensive. Like I didn’t realize her. Chamber is not as expensive, but still, when you’re in the beginning stages and stuff like you gotta be careful where you spend your money, you gotta be able to tell where that return is going to be.

So what did you feel about BNI financially? And then just like in general. 

Sean: [00:08:31] The hell overpriced, first of all. But apparently they, the price of it all depends on your area. In your specific chapter. But ours, I think ours was over $1,700 for the year. Just to be a part of this group that then met on a weekly basis in the morning weekly.

Torie: [00:08:49] That’s a lot.

Sean: [00:08:49] I think it was. Yeah, it should have been, it was definitely a weekly Wednesday morning or something like that. But the problem is you can only be in there for a specific civic category of your business unit specific industry. And the one that was closest to our house, like by a lot already had a website designer.

And so couldn’t do anything about that. Which meant we were in there as the printer. Now printer would have been best for a local printer that has printers. You know what, even for if I, if you’re doing really big jobs, 

Torie: [00:09:27] But if you think about like just people to people, other businesses, like you’re not making the same amount as you are.

If you’re doing a website like $1,700 a year like one website would have paid for that printing. Oh my God. If people printed business cards with us how many sets of business cards you would have to print to make $1,700, like a lot. 

Sean: [00:09:46] Yeah. We got some business cards. We printed a few flyers.

Torie: [00:09:50] Candlewood suites came from that though. Didn’t they? Or was that, oh, never mind. We’ve got some weird people trying to just sell us their business stuff. That bunny one, he was weird meeting some weird people and I hate it when I think it’s going to be good. And then all of a sudden it switches and they’re just trying to sell you something or I don’t know.

Sean: [00:10:12] Really, that’s what it is. They’re all just trying to, don’t try to sell me though. 

Torie: [00:10:17] Don’t try to sell me marketing, 

Sean: [00:10:19] But then. We offer print, but it was always from a, perk of everything else that we do. We don’t go out there. We’ve never just marketed. We’re printers, we can design something for you and if you need it printed, we’ll take care of it for you. But to just go in the printing angle, like it is not the category we should have been in. I think we, we’ve made. Made the money back on what it was. I think so. I don’t know. 

Torie: [00:10:49] I took a lot of your time though. I remember you didn’t like it 

Sean: [00:10:53] When you account for the effort it took. Absolutely. Not okay.

Torie: [00:10:58] So who do you think would benefit from BNI? Do you think that’s something people should try or do you think it’s 

Sean: [00:11:04] it really, they really depends on the industry. There’s typically, there’s always a realtor in there. The website designer is usually a good one because people need their websites. The banker that went with, the home loans that went with the realtor the inspection, home inspection the guy that came in there, he was killing it.

They were keeping him busy because it’s a constant flow of business. If in that world, if you’re a real like you’re constantly needing inspections like you’re going to use your guy. Where for us, how much printing do they actually need outside of just general, low dollar, and low quantity items?

Yeah, and I could not do what we actually do, which was marketing websites. We couldn’t even do the marketing aspect of it because of the other guy, the bunny guy was the mobile Mar I don’t even, I, they had too many different categories there and it split us all up, so when our business angle is marketing and helping you across the board It didn’t fit in.

Torie: [00:12:07] Okay. So chamber though. So we did get in that chamber Shonda chamber and did chamber events and stuff like that. No, we did get business from that again, it wasn’t like, and I, where we couldn’t talk about what we actually did. Do you think that was a good thing for good money spent or do you think it was money with us?

Sean: [00:12:24] Particular chamber? I got pretty involved in it and we did, we got some big corporate accounts which worked out pretty well in our favor. Aside from that. There really wasn’t a whole lot else. And the problem is with chambers. A lot of times when they do events, they’re like the same small group of people that go all the time.

Especially when you’re a new outsider like they’ve already got whoever they need to go. It almost seems like they’re going there just to give them something to do and eat the food and drink the drinks. But on the off chance, somebody like me winds up showing up that isn’t the old school person.

You can possibly make the connection and because of Candlewood suites, we definitely we’ve made a good connection there. And that relationship lasted for 

Torie: [00:13:06] Yeah, until she moved on to a different hotel, we did all kinds of fun stuff for them. Lots of printing, lots of design. She liked to put on events and things like that. Bridal events, we got to do all kinds of cool little merchandising type. Things that was an 

Sean: [00:13:19] Oddly enough. That was all printed. 

Torie: [00:13:21] It was a lot of print. Yeah. Obviously, we had to design this stuff before we put it. Yeah, we couldn’t, 

Sean: [00:13:26] There was no website design or anything online at all.

Torie: [00:13:29] Yeah, clients like that are fun when they have lots of different ongoing projects so that we can continue to work with the same people and just build up like this whole entire portfolio of just fun stuff that we did. She was really nice. Yeah. That was good. Yeah. So what about okay.

With the museum? So that’s my wasting money. Like I, I pretty much learned like that, that, I learned my lesson on some of those things that either we’re bringing in the wrong kind of client, or they were just dirty and like probably nobody should do them. Do you feel like anything else that for our marketing agency, that wasted money?

Sean: [00:14:06] We’ve gotten pretty luckily lucky overall and not really. 

Torie: [00:14:09] Yeah. As a marketer though, like you would think like you probably shouldn’t be wasting marketing dollars, so maybe that’s a good thing. Like we definitely have tried some different things, but yeah, I think by this time I’m not really losing too much 

Sean: [00:14:22] Is like when you first started or when I first started other than that, we haven’t really. Spent any money at all? 

Torie: [00:14:30] Not too much. Yeah. And we can have another video on stuff that we think works. I really wanted to talk about some of the things that didn’t work. What about with the museum? You’ve had a few things there that didn’t work at all. Okay. So Sean, I always wanted to build a board it was a digital billboard.

Sean: [00:14:47] So it was billboards are expensive as all. Hell digital was the only thing that I could afford. Which came with a whole nother set of issues, cause it’s not always up some paying for shared space. 

Torie: [00:14:59] However though, like the road that it was going to be on is like the road out of Atlanta. So like anybody that was going for like day trips and things like that, because the area that the museum is, it’s not right where we live, it’s in an area that people do go for day trips and do go to some of the cool little towns that have shops and little like mountainy towns and stuff like that. On the way there.

Sean: [00:15:21] You’re not going to get much better, 

Torie: [00:15:24] But you never know sometimes until, so when we had the billboard, as far as finding out if people actually, 

Sean: [00:15:33] Because you were the only person at the museum at that time, you were able to. Yeah. I was asking everybody this in religiously when that billboard was up and we’ve made $10 off that.

Torie: [00:15:46] Ooh, look at you. 

Sean: [00:15:49] That was it. That was a complete total loss. W 

Torie: [00:15:52] What did the guy tell you? Like the sales guy? Was he like, oh, this is gonna be great. Woo billboard. You’re gonna have so many people in your museum look out, you don’t have to hire new people from how the Lord. Yeah. 

Sean: [00:16:04] And then it’s always, places like that, they’re like, oh we’ll design it for you and all that. And I’m always like, nah, My wife will do it for me. And then it was a, the best design I’ve ever seen, stroking the whole ego and everything. And meanwhile, I got my money. No, it didn’t. It didn’t pan out. 

Torie: [00:16:22] So you get hit up all the time from local magazines. Oh my goodness. All the time. Trying to get you. To advertise in them. And we look through them and a lot of time it’s like wrong area, wrong demographic, but you did one. How did they actually get you first? 

Sean: [00:16:38] If I paid for an advertisement and everything that somebody has come to me for, with the museum, I’d spend thousands of dollars. And then obviously that’s just, that’s poor business.

Like there, there’s no way I can recoup that kind of budget. At least at that time. And so there was a magazine that was pretty popular and it looked like a decent magazine. So I’ve been turning, I think I did, I had turned them down before and there was a few others. And then there was this map guy that sells a map and it was like a business card ad around the map, but then it didn’t even print and full color.

It was all like green. It was just green and like off white and it was. Awful. I’m like, I don’t want to be in that magazine or in that map. And then, so this other magazine comes up again and I’m like, guy let’s do something so that we’re out in front of all these local people that apparently think this magazine is great.

So I pay for an ad in it. And it’s wrong the whole entire first month doesn’t even have the right phone number in it. 

Torie: [00:17:45] How did I not design this? How did that happen? They just did it. Okay. 

Sean: [00:17:51] I think, yeah, I don’t think it was an option to have it 

Torie: [00:17:54] And they didn’t give you a proof. They just they’re like, thanks for the money.

Sean: [00:17:58] Did you? Yeah, apparently it just just happened and I didn’t even know until. It was too late.

Torie: [00:18:05] I think that I saw that it was wrong and it was like two months later. 

Sean: [00:18:09] Yeah. So they wound up giving us another month of it being correct and another issue, but it wasn’t anything great. And then there’s the video ones where they’ll come and they’ll give you all kinds of video content.

But then there’s only so much you can do with that. 

Torie: [00:18:22] If they give you like 4k content, like that’s. Video is not easy for just the regular person to deal with that kind of content. We did the world record and you had all kinds of people send you some content and stuff like that. And then now we just have Hours and hour it’s not easy to move around.

It’s not easy to process unless that’s like what you do. So if somebody tells you that they’re going to come and, bust out a whole bunch of video, like might not be the best thing for your business, even though sounds cool. Like I want video content come to me. I don’t really like shoot.

Sean: [00:18:58] Yeah. And some of that stuff the best we’ve had were things that didn’t cost us anything. They were free. We’ve had other people that have come out and done videos in the museum and I didn’t pay for that. That got it out and created all kinds of contents for people to be able to find. And it didn’t cost anything.

Whereas it seems like everything that I have to spend a bunch of money on, I have no way of even being able to measure it. 

Torie: [00:19:26] But are they all telling you it’s like the greatest thing ever, 

Sean: [00:19:28] That’s their job. They’re trying to sell you on it, even though the one colored awful looking map. That map is everywhere. This is the map that people go to. 

Torie: [00:19:40] Maybe I’m just not good at this whole sales thing. I can’t tell people like, yo that’s like the bustling over. If I don’t believe it’s the best thing ever. I’m gonna tell you. There’s probably other things you should do. 

Sean: [00:19:51] Like I’m not your demographic either. I’m never going to pick that map up. Ever, especially with just the way it looks, if it was maybe if it was designed a showed me something that looked a little more visually intriguing, maybe I, it was happened to be somewhere. Somewhere that I am not normally at. And I’m able to look at that map and check it out then maybe. But for the most part, like I’m looking up online resources.

Torie: [00:20:20] And it’s hard to, since, we do marketing, like we have a marketing agency already. That we’re able to do our own marketing for the museum. Cause really like we’ve done rat cards and the rat cards at the visitor centers have done well, haven’t they? That would be something that, 

Sean: [00:20:36] But again, I can’t really measure that they’ve been taken, but as far as somebody coming in and saying, oh, I saw your rack card at the welcome center. So he had to take it 

Torie: [00:20:47] Local hotels or anything like that. Has anybody ever come in and really, yeah. 

Sean: [00:20:51] Maybe they have, but that’s. Yeah. And the thing is maybe they saw that, but then they looked online and went to the website and, by the time they got to me, they’re like, hi, I saw you online.

Meanwhile, they may have, found the rack card at someplace. Now the chamber local chamber rack cards in there, and they. Apparently, there are people that go into chambers in these small towns and they’re like, show me what you got. And I got a few people that way. Yeah. For the most part, it’s really easy to just burn money in marketing.

Torie: [00:21:25] Have you really careful? So I think that if you’re trying to figure out what to spend money on you talking about you, you don’t really know if people have come from that. Like the first thing to do is make sure that you can track 

Sean: [00:21:36] if you absolutely want to spend money on marketing. More power to you, great position to be in, but do it somehow that you can measure it. Otherwise it’s probably doesn’t work. 

Torie: [00:21:48] So things digitally where you can actually see the analytics and things like that, or direct marketing type things where you’re actually like, maybe you’re sending them something, but you’re telling them to do something so specific that you’re able to track whether that happens.

Some of those things would be. Like some of them sending them to a website. So you could see like you sent them to a specific page on a website. So you would know that those people got that or in things that like have if you have a business that has a specific coupon or something like those coupon books and things like that, if you’re able to track that, like that coupon came from that book and that’s your business model that you do, you attract new leads with coupons and at least you’re able to track that.

But if it’s something that you have no idea, man. I hate it when I get somebody that’s you design me a billboard. Yeah. Are you sure? I really don’t want to design you a billboard because. I know how much billboards costs. And I know that there is no way you’re going to know if that thing works.

A lot of times people could be spending their money a lot better. 

Sean: [00:22:53] No, unless you can really ramp it up and like local here. You might know a realtor named mark Spain. That’s because he’s probably got a half a billion dollar budget just for billboards. 

Torie: [00:23:07] So if you have a half, a million dollar budget, this might not be the video. Everybody, every town billboard. But if you’re looking to try to market your business and grow, and you don’t want to waste money and you got a little bit of a tight budget or. I mean like us we just don’t want to waste money. Like every dollar we’d like it to be spent pretty well.

We’re willing to try out some things, but if we try things out, we want to be smart about them. Don’t be dumb with your money. Don’t be dumb with your marketing budget. And with technology today, tracking is so much easier. And like totally doable for anybody 

Sean: [00:23:50] When it’s even. Easy to spend and waste money on digital marketing. Facebook makes it so easy for you to boost a post that should not be boosted. There’s absolutely zero reason for you to ever put money behind some of these posts. And yet some people they do and Facebook makes it easy. It doesn’t work. You’re not going to get any return on it, but Facebook 

Torie: [00:24:13] watch the other video about why Facebook marketing doesn’t work. Why it’s dead. Facebook marketing is dead because yeah, you can blow through money, like you’re in control of your own budget. And if it’s not working, then there might be something wrong. 

Sean: [00:24:27] Yeah. Even the best ad that you could create on Facebook that you’ve been running for years. Can all of a sudden burn through money, 

Torie: [00:24:39] Things stopped working, algorithms change, just whatever could happen, or you could take the greatest ad that could have worked like super wonderfully, but you put it to the wrong audience and nobody’s going to, it’s not that it’s a bad ad.

It’s just, it’s not and the right people. These are ways money. You have to be careful, make smart decisions. And if you like this episode, we would appreciate it. If you would like this episode and give us a review, we’re trying to reach more people. We want to reach business owners. We want to help you guys.

We want to help you not waste time and money and make smart decisions when it comes to growing your business. And as you see. We’ve made mistakes. We all make mistakes. We just try to learn from them and do a little bit better next time. And if you want some free resources on how you can better spend your money on marketing, you can go to Toriemathis.com.

We’ve got all kinds of goodies for you there. And we will see you on the next one.

You want to get smart tools to build your business go to getsmartaf.com

About Digital Marketing Expert Torie Mathis

Torie Mathis helps entrepreneurs, like you, use digital marketing to grow your business without wasting time, money, or your sanity.  She is a best-selling author, Army veteran, speaker + trainer, and your digital marketing coach. You don't need crazy tech skills, buckets of cash, or dedicated staff to market your business. In fact, you don't even need a lot of time. What you need is to be SMART.

Torie hosts SMART AF, a show for non-techy entrepreneurs looking to grow their business, with her husband Sean and is the creator of SMART AF Magazine. Learn from Torie at the Smart Arsenal and on her channel.

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Torie Mathis HeadshotI help entrepreneurs (like you) use digital marketing to get more clients + to make more money. And I make it easy! 

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