In the early days of my marketing career, one of my professional mentors, and a small business owner, confided in me that, even after 20 years in the business, his marketing budget still kept him up at night. A number-cruncher at heart, he hated the fact that he was forced to spend so much on something with such an inconsistent ROI. “I can barely keep the lights on,” he said, “because I’m spending all my money on the thing that’s supposed to keep my lights on.”
His statement was hyperbolic, but he had a point. When it comes to your company’s marketing budget, how do you know what’s really working and, moreover, how do you figure out what isn’t?
Here are some of the reasons you may be wasting your marketing budget:
As David Siteman Garland points out in his blog, we don’t share banner ads with people, and we don’t clip ads from the local newspaper and pass them around to our friends. That’s not to say banner ads and newspapers are completely ineffective, but they’re not a replacement for shareable items—such as blog posts and videos. Especially since, according to The Content Marketing Institute, eight out of 10 of people identify themselves as blog readers while, according to Pew Research, only 23 percent of Americans read print newspapers.
Spend money on the things that have the potential to go viral and make a true impression on your prospective customers. More importantly, spend money on making sure this shareable content is of the highest possible quality.
Contrary to the popular misnomer, trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is not the actual definition of insanity. But it is stupid.
There’s nothing wrong with going out on a limb and trying something different—and, of course, some marketing efforts take time to work. A new Adwords campaign, for example, can take up to a month to break into full stride. However, at some point, you may have to recognize your grand new plan has flatlined. Don’t let your experimental marketing endeavor become Weekend at Bernie’s. Let go of the dead weight and move on.
One of the great things about digital marketing is, unlike most traditional media, it’s trackable and measurable. While it’s important not to rely too heavily on statistics, you should always monitor your lead KPIs. Set up A/B tests, compare the cost-per-lead of various campaigns—use the data tools at your finger tips.
If the numbers start heading south, don’t go running off with your tail between your legs. Sit down and get into the nitty, gritty granular data to determine what went right and what went wrong so you’ll have better luck the next time around. In the words of great poet Kenneth Donald Rogers, “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.”
As a kid, flinging yourself from a 5-foot high tree limb into a 2-foot kiddie pool probably sounded like a pretty cool idea. After all, why would your friends steer you wrong? Mom, though, likely wasn’t as keen on this plan.
Flash forward a few decades, and I’ll bet you still hear your mom’s voice ringing in your ear, reminding you just because everyone else decides to jump off a bridge doesn’t mean it’s suitable for you. If PSAs and Afterschool specials have taught us anything, it’s that “everyone else is doing it” has never, ever, been a good reason to do something.
Just ask Netflix. In 2011, the multi-billion dollar company decided it wanted a slice of the digital streaming pie. Instead of streamlining the process, Netflix created a second company with its own separate brand: Qwikster. The split-off was so confusing, people unsubscribed in hordes and the company’s market value plummeted by 75 percent before the end of the year.
The moral of the story is this: Instead of doing something just because your competitors are doing it, take a step back. Do your research, read case studies and determine a plan of action.
In order for your marketing to be effective, everyone needs to be on board. Even if you have the greatest marketing plan ever devised, it’s nothing without the full support of everyone from your sales executives to your receptionist. According to Chris Pile, CEO of TheFarm digital, your digital roadmap should be a collaborative effort.
There are two primary benefits to cross-department collaboration in marketing. Firstly, thanks to a larger number of varying experiences and opinions, you’ll produce a more well-rounded strategy. Secondly, you’ll have greater cross-departmental buy-in. People have a funny way of caring more about the things they’ve had a hand in creating.
The most frustrating thing about marketing budgets is they’re never perfect—they require constant monitoring, tweaking and conversation. By becoming more aware of where you’re wasting, though, you can better allocate funds toward more successful endeavors and enjoy a healthier ROI.
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