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5 easy ways to reduce retail expenses and increase your marketing budget

6 min read
Bryan Caplan

Owning or managing a business requires a lot of effort — and cash. You find yourself responsible for sales, marketing, bookkeeping, HR, legal and operations all while trying to maintain a budget. As you work to reduce retail expenses, it can be a challenge to carve out extra cash to bolster a marketing budget. Resources are needed elsewhere, but you need to boost sales.

It’s like spinning plates or juggling, or any other balance-based metaphor you can think of. You have to balance everything at once without letting any of them go.

But support is out there.

And inexpensive support at that.

By taking advantage of the free or inexpensive tools available to small business owners, you can manage your business more effectively and efficiently free up cash that can be allocated where it is needed the most.

5 ways to reduce retail expenses and increase your marketing budget

Not sure where to start? Here are a few ways that you can free up cash and educate yourself so you can save money on your retail expenses:

  • Utilize free business mentors.
  • Cut credit card processing fees.
  • Attend free classes.
  • Learn about marketing on YouTube.
  • Use free Google and SEO tools.

Let's get started!

1. Utilize free business mentors

Have you ever heard of SCORE Mentors? SCORE is the largest network of small business mentors in the United States. SCORE has helped more than 11 million people and has more than 10,000 expert volunteer mentors on hand.

You can get free help with just about anything, including technology, legal issues, human resources, operations, strategy and planning, taxes, accounting and more.

Since SCORE is geared specifically toward small businesses, their knowledge is especially valuable.

SCORE is a great resource for when you need to resolve an issue or for ongoing mentorship to grow your business. Building a relationship with an outside mentor can give you great insight and a sounding board for future ideas — all for free!

Related: 14 mentor qualities that separate the good from the great

2. Cut credit card processing fees

Stack of credit cards resting on a table

One of the places you can certainly save money is on credit card processing fees. Merchant processing fees are not regulated and often contain hidden fees, pricing traps and can change on a whim.

Do you know what you are paying per credit card transaction? More so, when was the last time you looked at your statement? Credit card companies love to add bogus fees that are easy to miss, which means less profit for you.

One way to secure low transaction fees is to use a tool called Swipe. Swipe is a service that watches credit card processing fees and secures the lowest rate without making you change equipment or point of sale devices. The service also monitors your statements for changes in rates and suspicious fees.

Swipe is ideal for small businesses, which are the biggest targets for dubious credit card processing fee charges. It is inexpensive and only takes a few minutes to get set up.

Editor's note: GoDaddy Payments is here — and with low transaction fees. There are no long-term contracts, no subscription fees, no monthly minimums, or any hidden fees. All major credit and debit cards are accepted including Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover for a low transaction fee of 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction.

3. Attend free classes

Instead of paying to outsource something small, you could learn to do it yourself. There are many ways to learn, for free, online.

For starters, you can drop in and take a free one-hour Grow With Google webinar hosted by yours truly! You can learn about things like Google Ads, Google My Business, how to create an effective website, selling online with Shopify, using Google Analytics, and much more. These webinars are always free and geared towards small business owners and managers.

If you don’t need marketing help, you can easily find classes for other topics like leadership, bookkeeping, accounting, business, planning and more from Constant Contact, Eventbrite, SCORE, and more.

4. Learn about marketing on YouTube

Window display in a retail clothing shop

When you don’t know how to do something, where is the first place you look? Chances are it’s YouTube. YouTube is a great place to learn if you know where to look. There are several great creators making videos specifically to help small business owners reduce retail expenses, solve problems and save more for marketing without having to outsource and spend money.

If you are looking for marketing help and how to increase your marketing budget, a great place to start is the Bigger Better Biz channel. There you can find deep dives with small business owners like you on how to optimize your web presence to best represent your business and attract customers. You can also find videos on email marketing, web design, social media, reviews and more.

5. Use free Google and SEO tools

If you are trying to get a health diagnosis you would usually go to a doctor, but in this case, you have loads of great diagnostic tools for your business available for free. If you want to know if you have an effective website or what customers are searching for, you can find that out all on your own.

The first tool you should check out is Google’s Test Your Site Speed. This is a simple website that tells you how fast your site loads across devices. A fast site is essential in 2021! The site will tell you what you can do to optimize your site to make it faster and more consumer-friendly.

Another great tool is Google's consumer insights from Think With Google. Their consumer insights give you a peek into retail search data for more than 55,000 products. Here you can compare competing products and discover local demand for brands. This is a treasure trove of information for you to explore and it’s totally free.

The final free tool is Ubersuggest, for blogging and SEO. This tool can find relevant keywords for your blog and SEO to ensure that you are perfectly optimized, showing you search volume for each word as well as articles that are ranking for each of them.

Related: 10 simple small business SEO tactics that you can do in-house

Reduce retail expenses and win at marketing

You may think paying someone to help you with certain issues is the only way to tackle them, but it’s not. You can reduce retail expenses, allowing you to increase your marketing budget, all on your own. Be sure to first check out SCORE mentors or one of the many free classes or webinars. You may be surprised how much free support is out there for small businesses.

By utilizing free and inexpensive tools and support, you can save your small business money that can then be reallocated into the marketing budget where it is needed the most.