Ask the Marketer: Getting the Most Out of Your Marketing Budget
Six marketing experts explore how to determine the right mix of marketing dollars and return on investment for your organization
When it comes to marketing, many organizations question whether or not they are getting “the most bang for their buck.” Are you really taking the right integrated marketing approach with the right amount of marketing dollars to maximize the sales pipeline?
Here’s how six marketing experts approach this problem. – Valerie Chan, founder, Plat4orm PR
Christy Burke, founder, Burke & Company Who are your marketing targets and how do they take in information about what to buy? Perhaps the answer is a combination of your website, press coverage in publications, listservs, conferences, thought leadership articles, case studies and white papers, social media, marketing email communications, etc. If you’re not sure, ask some of your current clients.
With limited marketing budget, every dollar you spend should lead to a direct result. Whether it’s a deliverable published online or given to prospects and clients, paid ads or keywords, social media content or an event, each marketing element you choose must actively help you to establish credibility, attract new interest, make sales or keep existing clients.
Review your marketing program on a quarterly basis to weed out elements that don’t effectively generate leads or momentum. If something shows promise but is not yet performing optimally, tweak it to see if its potential can be realized.
Ed Colandra, founder, Mindful Marketing Solutions The best marketing value comes from setting and measuring the revenue expected from each component of the marketing mix. Too often, objectives are “fuzzy,” like the number of badges scanned at a booth, search engine ads clicked or social media followers’ “likes” or visits. Simply tallying the numbers associated with those activities, while helpful, does not create real trackable revenue or return on marketing investments.
Instead, ask your marketing team to explain the steps to convert those visitors and followers into revenue-producing leads. Schedule regular reviews to understand what worked and what fell short of your expectations. Constantly test your results to improve the outcomes, and then reallocate your budget accordingly.
It’s great to see a growing database of completed website contact forms, sign-ups for a webinar or downloads of a PDF to track interest. Now take it a step further and integrate those results into your sales process to provide solid opportunities for new business.
Cathy Kenton, chair, Legal Vendor Strategies One of the greatest challenges for marketers and business leaders is evaluating tactical marketing performance. We all want to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. But if you don’t know what is working, how do you know where to invest those hard-earned dollars?
Setting goals with a clear understanding of performance metrics is the ideal way to develop and measure marketing budgets. Often companies arbitrarily commit to a firm marketing budget amount without regard to what really should be spent. Instead, try working backward. Consider expected revenues, revenue per customer, profit, the average sales cycle length and the percentage of revenues/sales you are willing to invest to acquire a customer. Once your marketing budget has been calculated, apportion it between lead generation, lead nurturing and conversion. Each of these three areas requires different tactics and investment. Each requires a portion of your budget to succeed in closing new business.
Christine Alemany, Trailblaze Growth Advisors Define your target demographics. Create personas that address your target’s needs, goals and challenges. This will help identify the content themes that will drive your marketing programs. At minimum, define the following characteristics: industry, title, required skills, reporting structure, how they are measured and how they get information.
Outline your goals and budget. Marketing budgets vary greatly depending on the strength of your brand, the competitive landscape, the ease of reaching your target segment and the complexity of your message. Before you create programs, work with the sales team to confirm your themes and establish the key performance indicators (KPIs) to track results and optimize.
Build an integrated program. Content should be the foundation of all of your programs with marketing channels amplifying your message to your audience, from events and public relations to social media and advertising. Concentrate on a handful of tactics that target your core group of qualified prospects. Then, ensure that you can operationally support all of your channels with enough frequency and valuable content—and within budget.
Test, optimize and repeat. Test your way into success by using your KPIs, historical results and industry benchmarks to optimize the ROI of your marketing mix. Finally, add new tactics or increase investment in existing tactics to reach a larger audience as you master your current mix. Continue to test, because the optimal mix will change with time.
Amy Juers, CEO, Edge Legal Marketing The best course is to establish goals, think in terms of metrics, be nimble and re-assess often. A tried-and-true system increases revenue by taking advantage of multichannel and integrated marketing.
Here are a few ways to get the most out of a marketing budget:
Focus efforts on a targeted audience and make sure that the messaging speaks specifically to each segment of that audience.
Sharpen public relations efforts to reach trade publications and business reporters that cover the legal market.
Leverage marketing and public relations opportunities provided by trade associations. In the legal world especially, peer influence and alliance are paramount.
Squeeze every ounce of energy out of campaigns. For example, take a published article and then use social media with an automated email marketing system (like HubSpot) and promote it more.
Measure and track your campaign results. The numbers tell all. Invest in opportunities that afford face-time with clients and pros
pects. Yes, society is digital, but never underestimate the power of human interaction.
Ari Kaplan, founder, Ari Kaplan Advisors Companies that view their marketing efforts holistically to convey a message, brand their culture, and showcase their talent often enjoy the greatest success. As a result, organizations should maximize their marketing budget by: Crafting content that emphasizes capability, client service, market positioning and unique ideas. Be engaging and thoughtful while providing practical tips that benefit the reader.
Contribute to the conversation through webinars and panel discussions in a way that addresses key issues in the industry. Provide clarity, incorporate perspective and offer ideas for improvement.
Survey your clients, prospects and trusted partners. It is incredibly important to consistently reinvent and re-evaluate.