Top Ways to Stop Wasting Your Marketing Budget – Part 1: The Basics

Get the most from your marketing budget. To make sure every dollar counts. Thankfully, there are some steps that almost every company can take to ensure that the marketing budget is well-spent and produces the desired results.

This is Part 1 in a three part series.  Click here for Part 2 and Part 3 discussing Sales, Social Media and Prioritization.

There’s an old saying that goes “I think we are wasting marketing dollars, I just don’t know which half.” Many of us have felt that way, even those of us who have spent our careers in marketing. Marketing expenses occur by their nature before the sale and it takes a bit of faith to believe “if you build it they will come.”

So the trick is then to get the most from your marketing budget. To make sure every dollar counts. Thankfully, there are some steps that almost every company can take to ensure that marketing budget is well-spent and will produce the desired results. Here are 8 ways to increase the results and lower the risks of your marketing spend.

Marketing budget – Make sure your message is clear

Your business has a brand image whether you have consciously developed and articulated it or not. Some of the time that image “just happened” as the result of selling and servicing your product. If your image falls in this category, it may have both positive and negative attributes. A carefully considered image will take some aspects of that “inherent” image, but will also reflect the position and differentiation the brand seeks in the future. You can articulate your brand image in a number of forms; a company logo, tagline, company description statements of various lengths and a press release “boilerplate.”

These statements will be used and reused in printed materials, advertising, the company website and in company descriptions on social media sites. It is important to have consistency between these to be effective and legacy statements must be updated once new messaging has been agreed upon.

Even in somewhat more mature companies, the aspects of the message and how it is personified may be garbled. It is not uncommon for companies to have multiple and somewhat confusing messages, developed over the years.

Often, different messages exist on the website, in marketing materials and sales presentations and in employee’s minds. These all need to be cleared up and standardized in order to solidify the core, agreed-upon message.

Marketing budget – Get some press

Once your message has been solidified, you are ready to share it with your target. Public relations is an area where a little goes a long way. Many early stage companies form relationships with key press and get some exposure as a result. They then issue press releases sent to those same few interested parties and wonder why the press doesn’t continue. The growth company must make their story interesting on an ongoing basis and always be finding new interested press outlets. This will require a steady diet of press pitches and releases, timed around company events, which are distributed using one of the major distribution services.

Press releases were once distributed only on paper and were the exclusive domain of the press. Today they are distributed electronically which helps them get picked up quickly by dozens of prestigious news sources, and found using basic internet search tools. These then become the chapters of your corporate history, not only resident on your website, but throughout the internet, all for a few hundred dollars a chapter.

A good PR strategy will outline the frequency, timing and topics that releases will have over the course of a year. Some releases will support product launches and changes, while others are timed to keep the company in the news or to take advantage of industry events.

Marketing budget – Ensure that your website is “all that it can be”

Every business should have a website. It’s not an option and the website likely touches every sale, often multiple times. The great thing is that basically a great website often doesn’t cost much (or any) more than a poor website. Many companies put up a basic website early in their growth and do little to enhance it over time due to more pressing priorities.  They also become accustomed to the website and believe it is meeting the needs of today’s potential customers, and often it is not.

The elements of a good web presence include attractive graphical design with relevant and well organized content. Can potential customers get to the information they need quickly? Does the content properly describe the product set as it exists and does it answer the prospects questions? Is it written in a common voice? Are there adequate opportunities to contact and engage with the company? A good website can make your business stand out. This will take a bit more strategizing, but in the end doesn’t cost any more. It’s worth the effort; your website is your businesses hub, the storefront.

The website also needs to capture leads. Efficiently, effectively and without “leakage.” Some “marketing automation” systems keep track of visitors and where they visited, so you can segment then for different content. This side will cost more dollars, but depending on your business model, may be the upgrade you need to make the website sing.

The website, once brought up to date, will also need to be found more readily.

Marketing budget – Do search engine optimization

(SEO) is a cost effective way of enhancing the website’s search engine rankings. Having robust and relevant content on your website enhances SEO, so once a content refresh is completed, SEO needs to be reviewed and enhanced.

Other strategies in discussed in Part 1 and the upcoming Part 3 of this series:

  • Bring your sales support materials up to date
  • See that marketing and sales “get along”
  • Beware of “sales leakage”
  • Use a targeted social media strategy
  • Be on the right horse – prioritizing your spend

Marketing budget – Bringing it all together

Executing effective marketing to stimulate a company’s full growth potential is not simple.

It involves careful prioritization and the establishment of a solid foundation of basic fixed cost marketing vehicles

It’s not rocket-science either. With proper consideration of the target markets, the message and the marketing vehicles and their timing, backed up by careful and consistent measurement of the results, companies can look to marketing to establish goals, chart the strategy to meet them and execute with full visibility as to what is working and what is not. This transparency will increase marketing’s stature and allow all stakeholders to see for themselves how things are working.

At the end of the day, marketing can only be an effective leader in steering a company’s growth when it has the full support of all parts of the team. Following the steps outlined in this paper can help marketing earn the confidence of the entire organization and lead the company to higher levels of growth.

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