Marketing Budget Conundrum: How to Prioritize Your Marketing Budget for 2018

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Marketing Budget Conundrum: How to Prioritize Your Marketing Budget for 2018

Setting budgets for your business can be one of those important to-do’s that stays at the top of your list for a long time before it gets tackled. Small businesses, especially ones where employees wear multiple hats, are often the last ones to take a deep dive into examining budgets and setting goals for the upcoming year. Some business budgets are fairly straightforward, but the marketing budget is one that can look completely different from year to year. It’s often not just a question of how much to put in your marketing budget, it’s more likely a question of where to spend it.

Audiences and the marketing channels for reaching them have never been more complicated. It’s not enough to target a certain demographic within a specific education and income bracket; you must understand your customers’ habits and then reinforce their trust in your brand and products. The good news is that while marketing options have increased, so has a business’s ability to make sound decisions based on data.

Here are 4 things you can do to focus your marketing budget and yield impressive results:

  1. Identify Past Marketing Wins and Figure Out Why They Worked

Most small businesses can track their website’s Google Analytics and review data from email marketing campaigns. Review your analytics to find out the source of referral traffic. To do this, simply log in to your Google Analytics account and click on the “Acquisition” header and then click on “Referral.” This will tell you where your business is being found and what channel or tactic is creating the most engagement. 

Business to Business organizations may find that social media sources such as LinkedIn provide quality traffic to their website, and those visitors tend to stay on their website longer than others. Other businesses have tremendous success with email campaigns that lead customers to an online purchase on their website.

Review the trends over time and look for patterns that can help you plan for the future. Repeat the successes that you are currently experiencing and move the initiatives up in priority.

  1. Set Marketing Goals that Align with your Business Goals

If one of your business goals is to become the leading authority on a specific topic or the leading provider of a certain service or product, your marketing goal should support this vision. Becoming an authority or being sought out as an expert is an organic process. People won’t trust you simply because you tell them they should. You need credible people and influencers to tell your customers and clients why you are the best, most knowledgeable resource in your industry.

Tactics that support this goal may include:

  • Establishing a blog and updating it once per week
  • Contributing one article per month to an industry publication or association website
  • Pursuing interviews with your local news station to share news about your business

The beautiful thing about this tactic is that it is essentially available without any additional costs to your business. It requires time, and your time is obviously valuable but, these activities tend to yield impressive results long-term. The secret is consistency.

  1. Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater

Approach shiny new objects with caution. Some of the most incredible innovations for targeted marketing have been developed in the last few years. It’s now legal to sell your data to corporations so they can market to you. Your digital footprint can be monitored and systems can be trained to follow you and deliver messages directly to your phone. We can even reverse engineer direct mail campaigns and find out your IP address to target you with digital ads at home.

We strongly advise a cautious approach to these mind-blowing digital marketing programs. Some of the options may be perfect to try with your existing customers and potential buyers. However, ditching tried and true practices to partake in a “too good to be true” digital marketing approach can be dangerous. When we work with clients on a digital targeting campaign, we always recommend pairing it with another tactic to support traditional marketing channels. It takes a lot of impressions to make someone take action. Meet them where they are, but don’t creep them out.

Brand loyalty is about trust. Tread with caution when using technologies that border on invasion of privacy. You may gain a few new customers but losing existing ones in the process is an outcome most businesses try to avoid.

  1. Prioritize Thoughtfully

Now that you’ve reviewed the available data and identified your most successful marketing programs, the most common step businesses take next is to simply repeat what worked and eliminate what didn’t. Stop right there.

Remember that success doesn’t happen because of one thing that you did. It is often a culmination of tactics that actually lead a customer to take action. Prioritize the tactics that produced the highest yields and then divide the remaining budget amongst multiple appropriate marketing channels.

Review the media habits of your target audience along with your own personal results and develop an integrated marketing plan that can catch your audience at work, in their car, at home or on the go. According to multiple industry surveys, a successful marketing program typically accounts for a budget between 7 and 12% of total revenue. Business to Consumer businesses typically spend more on marketing compared to Business to Business operations. No matter what category fits your company, the principles are the same. 

Measuring the outcomes of a soft goal like thought leadership can be tricky. Some tips to track the impact of a thought leadership campaign include linking articles and stories to specific landing pages; gated website content that captures reader’s contact information; or asking callers how they found you or heard about you and keeping a log.

For more information on developing a successful marketing campaign for your small business, call Winger Marketing at 312-494-0422.