Preparing a marketing budget can be tricky. There are certainly plenty of guidelines out there one can use as a starting point, but are they right for your business? What can you do when you need to make modifications? What’s actually achievable at any given budget? All of this can be quite daunting and even scary. Are you getting the most out of your spend?
When looking at marketing budgets, it can be challenging to know how much to spend to reach your company’s goals . With so many options out there, how do you know where to allocate funds to get the gains you are seeking?
After working with hundreds of clients, we recognized that a demystification is in order to help create a stronger understanding of where to allocate time, effort, and investment to ensure that you are getting the most out of your marketing.
COVID-19 NOTE: With the challenges many companies are facing from a revenue standpoint due to the COVID-19 crisis, we are seeing adjustments being made in marketing budgets. Many companies may choose to freeze or remove marketing budgets as marketing is often seen as the least painful investment to cut when trying to keep businesses intact. However, it’s important to consider the longer-term effects that this can create as marketing is the fuel that keeps your audience engaged with your business and ensures you are competitive when markets stabilize. This is why we have assembled the following exploration of marketing at any budget to help provide some insight and guidance to help keep your business top-of-mind with your audience.
Looking through our past projects, we recognized an opportunity to help provide an overview of a few of the marketing activities in which you can engage at a variety of budget levels. One of the most important things to note about marketing is that a lot can be done for free (well… leveraging sweat equity vs. direct monetary investments outside of salaries). With some available talent and some time in your day, you can create and implement effective marketing strategies at any time and any budget.
You can also leverage available time to prepare content and plan resources to be ready to go when budgets open back up. Create all of your advertisement content or start to layout plans for your email and social marketing now, so you are primed and ready to go when the time is right.
Here are a few ideas about what can be accomplished at a variety of budget levels:
$0 but some available time and talent
- Plan. There is no better time than the present to sit down and plan for future marketing endeavors. Set up a marketing calendar and map out your activities and goals. Brainstorm blog posts, content offers, and email marketing sequences. Take time to create and build materials to be deployed when opportunities arise or markets adjust in your favor. There is no better time to repair and stock your ship for a journey when the winds shift.
- Housekeeping. The silver lining to a reduction in client work is the opportunity to focus on cleaning your own room. This is a fantastic time to take a spin through your CRM and clean up your contact list (here’s a link to a post about CRMs you may find handy). Organize your files and shared drive so items are easy to find when your team returns ready to roll when the market turns around.
- Create. Create consistent, quality content for distribution on your site and/or traffic-heavy platform of your choice. Bonus points for materials that can be syndicated in some fashion (chopped into multiple, bite-sized snippets) to fuel social media channels until your next post drops. Most companies should look at a regular cadence starting at once or twice a month. Just pick a goal that is realistic for you and your team, and stick with it. This goes for both blogging/other content creation and social. Here’s an article about how content can be used in a variety of ways to build relationships.
- Connect. Leverage your email/CRM and social channels to create relationship-building opportunities and drive connections. Reach out. Ask questions. Engage.
- Measure. If you have traffic to your site, take a peek at your performance and look for ways to improve conversions. Create some sort of free offer (usually content that resonates with and helps your target audience like a checklist, how-to, or the like), put it behind a gate (collect a name and email to access the materials) and start building your list. Here’s an article about SMART goal setting.
- Lean on your network. Pretty much anyone with whom you have built a relationship can be a great resource for referrals and distribution. Ask past clients, volunteers, donors, vendors… anyone who might be willing or have an interest in your growth and success to help out with referrals or broadcasting your materials to a wider audience. Leverage LinkedIn to see if there is someone you already know who knows a top prospect and ask for an introduction (or at least if it’s okay to name drop with a cold outreach). Here are three ways LinkedIn can be used to build your network. Also, stay tuned for a LinkedIn masterclass we are launching soon!
$100 per month
- Build out your landing page/lead generation ecosystem . A great way to bring in new customers is to offer them a service/resource/tool for signing up to your mailing list. Landing pages are quick and easy to set up using a service like Leadpages and will allow you to present your offer in a visually appealing way that is optimized for conversion. Combine this tool with a CRM or Drip to supercharge connections and contacts.
- Leverage LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator to prospect leads (b2b). This great prospecting tool is available from LinkedIn and allows you to fine-tune and target LinkedIn members who match your audience personas. You can quickly and easily navigate LinkedIn to reach out to non-connections and manage leads and contacts. Have you completed a Persona exercise for your business? Here’s a great resource to help build your personas.
- Set and forget all of your marketing content with a social media scheduling tool like Hootsuite. A scheduling tool will allow you to prepare all of your content at the beginning of a cycle and schedule it to go out automatically across your various social channels. This is a great time-saving tool and will help ensure a consistent cadence for your inbound strategies. WARNING: Scheduling materials to go out in the future can be poorly timed when tragic events unfold. So if you are using a scheduler, be wary of this and prepared to either jump into your account to halt scheduled materials, or potentially suffer the blowback that could ensue.
$500 per month
- Update and clean your lists – Use a tool like Kickbox to clean your email marketing lists. Remove outdated email addresses to help you improve the viability of your email lists. Once that is complete, look at creating different segments for your email lists. Create lists based on needs or actions. You can create lists for people you haven’t engaged with and develop different campaigns to get them reactivated or target specific groups of people based on their needs or industries.
- Create Google or Facebook Ads with a limited budget to market your product or service (If applicable) For selling of a product or service, Google ads are a great way to help improve your online ranking and get you in front of your audiences. Once the content is created you can set budgets up to display your ads and get conversions. (COVID Suggestion: Currently, Google ads are all over the place. There is no clear factor on whether you should increase or decrease budgets. Try running ads with a tight budget and increase or decrease based on your success.)
- Fine-tune your strategy. Engage with a firm that can help you plan your next move and track your progress to help adjust your tactics moving forward.
- Join a mastermind group. These are a great way to dive deeper into learning an important skill or just get together regularly with a mentor or peer group to discuss challenges and solutions for your business.
$1000+ per month
Hire a digital or social marketing firm to assist you with execution. This partnership could include a variety of activities including:
- Ongoing lead funnel creation and management
- Setting up and managing your CRM
- Email marketing
- LinkedIn prospecting and content creation/management
- Content creation and design (including copywriting, video production, infographic design, etc.)
- Podcast recording and editing
- Social media marketing and relationship-nurturing
- Inbound marketing
- Search Engine Optimization and linkbuilding
- PPC or paid social
- Market and Competitor Analysis
- Website overhauls
- And more!
Marketing can be successful with any budget. With some time available time and talent, a lot of your marketing needs can be addressed without requiring a big investment. When you increase your marketing budget, the overall goal should be to access resources or outside contractors to focus on marketing so that you can take that time to focus on your other business needs.
Have a budget and want to know what would be the best way to use it? We would be more than happy to hop on a call and see how we can best allocate it to meet your goals.