Making the Most of Your Marketing Budget

How to Make an Impact Without Overextending Your Team or Your Budget

In today’s digital age, there are nearly unlimited options for where and how to market your business.  The internet and smartphones have given way to about a million different channels that both businesses and consumers utilize on a daily basis, and marketers can sometimes feel pressured to develop a presence on as many as possible.  However, unless you’re a juggernaut of a company, this probably isn’t possible and it probably isn’t the best strategy.

Quality Over Quantity

At the risk of sounding cliché, sometimes less really is more.  Especially if you are at a small or early stage company, your budget and resources are probably limited.  When your choices are to make small investments in a large number of campaigns or larger investments in a small number of campaigns, typically the latter will yield better results.  Of course, it’s still important to diversify and market your products over a variety of channels, but by trying to utilize every medium within every channel you often end up stretching yourself too thin and failing to see sufficient return.

For example, let’s say you are making allocations for your marketing budget at a B2B startup. Your industry and target market consistently subscribe to four digital publications that you’d like to include in your marketing strategy, but their advertising opportunities can be costly.  You can afford to place a small ad with each, but it will be at the very bottom of their e-newsletters where it may not be noticed. Alternatively, you can afford to invest in a more expensive ad campaign with the most widely read publication, which allows you to host content on the publication’s website as well as promote it in the prominent banner image of their e-newsletter.  You would indefinitely sacrifice any readership that did not subscribe to that particular publication; however, you could very well miss out on that audience with a poorly placed ad anyway. Twenty leads from one campaign is far more valuable than one lead from each of four campaigns.

The same applies on a larger scale.  You don’t necessarily need to stretch your resources between email, and social, and print, and TV, and trade shows, and direct mail, and paid search, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  Choose those in which you can make the biggest impact on your target market without risking more capital than you can spare or running your team ragged. Remember, even inexpensive marketing requires personnel support, so you should always think critically about whether something is worth the manpower required for execution and campaign management.

Know Your Audience

Of course, focused marketing efforts can only be successful if you know your target market well.  If you can narrow down the buying cycle and behaviors of your audience, you know how and where to focus your efforts and how to avoid gaps.  Sometimes it’s an obvious choice, like opting to skip direct mail marketing for a digital product sold to techies. Other times it may require a bit more thought and knowledge.

Be realistic about what you know.  If you are not confident enough in your firsthand knowledge and what your existing customer data shows, consider conducting market research or testing.  Otherwise, you’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it sticks.

Measure and Refine

Measuring your results and then acting accordingly is key to your success, particularly when you focus your resources on a smaller number of tactics.  If you’re using significant resources on a campaign, you’d better be sure it’s delivering quality results before you continue. If you have a series of paid search ads up and one particular tagline isn’t pulling it’s weight, it should get the axe.  If you sponsor an industry event and are blown away by the number of leads you leave with, sign up for the next one and consider even more visibility.

Grow as You Go

Over time as your business grows your marketing plan should too…but that still doesn’t mean you should try to do everything!  It’s always wise to think critically about each tactic and have a scoring system in place that accounts for the needs of your brand.  The goal in this strategy is to make the most of your resources, avoid burning out your team, and gain the marketing results you need.

Photo by Damian Zaleski

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