The Marketing “Cost Trap”: How to make better investments

a photo of a spider web

Every organization should be focused on the bottom line when looking at investment in marketing. Purpose-driven companies are no exception.

Because they put so much effort into creating with intention, leaders of these organizations want to see their efforts reflected through a solid, measurable return on their marketing investment.

Makes sense, right?

Unfortunately, marketing often doesn’t provide instantaneous results. It can take some time and effort to realize a return on your investment.

The problem arises when you are locked on your primary goal. You start to worry—and even question your tactics—and come to view your investment as a waste of money because the scales aren’t tipping in your favor quickly enough.

If you’re thinking like this, you may have fallen into what we call the “marketing cost trap,” where you view marketing as an expense rather than an investment.

The solution can be as simple as a mindset shift.

Instead of viewing marketing as a cost, adjust your focus. Consider how money allocated to your marketing creates potential and builds a foundation on which future gains will be realized.

A shift to considering marketing allocations as investments in your organization’s future positions your activities differently. Translation: they look a lot different from when you consider them to be pure expenses.

Marketing isn’t just meant to tell people to buy your goods or services. Marketing is part of the mechanism that creates and nurtures ongoing relationships. These activities help deliver value to your stakeholders, providing information and resources necessary for them to overcome their challenges.

Marketing is a necessary communication channel that helps move your stakeholders through the audience engagement cycle and make their lives better:

  • Attract: Garner brand awareness and interest in products, services, and benefits. This can also be considered the “Know” phase of your engagement where people get to know you.
  • Connect: Give an entry point for potential stakeholders to engage with you. This phase is where your relationship starts to grow and you provide opportunities for your audience to start interacting with and liking your brand.
  • Bond: Here’s where the magic starts to happen. In the Bond phase, we see your audience move toward more of a trusting relationship with your organization, one in which they have the opportunity to try, buy, and support your offerings and services. This could be as simple as downloading a resource or go as far as to donate to your organization or buy from your brand.
  • Inspire: In the Inspire phase, you have the opportunity to transform your relationship further by providing opportunities to advance your engagement—repeat purchases, escalating levels of interaction (becoming a donor after volunteering or bringing a business in as a corporate donor), and enthusiastic brand evangelism are hallmarks of this phase.

All of these phases come about because of… you guessed it… sustained investment in marketing!

When you create marketing content and engage in strategic marketing activities you are investing in relationships with your stakeholders. It’s a long-term game that requires that you analyze what’s working, improve what’s not, and maintain conversations until your audience is ready to take the next steps.

According to a CMO survey:

“Marketing is responsible for leading revenue growth at 38.4 percent of companies. These companies have larger marketing budgets as a percentage of the overall company budget (14.5 percent) than companies that do not assign primary responsibility for revenue growth to marketing.”

Want to count yourselves among the 38% of organizations for which marketing creates a positive ROI? You need to start with strategy—and stop viewing marketing as a cost.

Avoiding the cost-trap can take some work, but reaps serious rewards. When you know that your efforts are working toward a program backed by thoughtful planning and strategy, your whole world will come into sharper focus.

Want to learn more about how to escape the Cost Trap? Drop us a line.