It's your first day back from your blissful holiday break and you're sipping your hot coffee and then BAM...your boss hands you your annual budget. You thought you had more time to ease into the new year, but alas it is time to get back to work. How could you possibly get all of your marketing initiatives done with the number that was just dropped on your desk you ask? We’ve put together some tips on how to make the most of your marketing budget. In this post, you’ll learn:
- How to create goals that are within reach for any budget
- How to determine what you should do in-house and what you should outsource
- How to track your results and make adjustments to get the most bang for your buck
You won’t be able to make every dollar count if you aren’t counting your dollars and your goals. Start with what you need and want to accomplish this year, then work backwards.
For example, if your goal for 2020 is to generate 120 marketing qualified leads (MQLs) for your sales team, you can break that down to 30 MQLs/quarter, or 10 per month. Then, work backwards up your marketing funnel and decide what will get you to those goals. How many website visits, contact form submissions, and points of contact do you need to get an MQL on average? You can base those rates of conversion from one stage to another on data from previous years, or if you haven’t tracked those to date, you can use these industry averages.
Once you determine the number at the top of your funnel, you can start to plan a list of activities that will get you to your goal.
One last piece to consider: Are there hard costs associated with your goals? Membership fees? Tradeshow costs? Subscription or resource requirements? Once you net out the immovable amount of your budget, you’ll be able to see what you really have to work with.
Now that you have your flexible spending identified, you have to determine where to allocate it. Throwing a little bit of money into every possible audience, vertical or channel is bound to create only shallow (if any) impact. We recommend targeting audiences and verticals that are in the best position to buy based on need, financial ability, and previous purchasing habits, along with other factors.
While it can be challenging to know this information with absolute certainty, looking at market trends, news stories and your own company data from past years can paint a picture that will be directionally correct and allow you to pick a small handful of audiences and verticals to address.
Once you have those audiences and verticals, find out where they find their information or where they shop. Is it primarily via web search? At trade events? In vertical-specific publications? You’ll want to put your budget dollars into the channels that reach your target segments most effectively.
- Assess Strengths
Now that you’ve determined who to market to and where to reach them, you have to figure out what you’d like to say and how to say it. This can involve developing copy, graphics, emails, websites, direct mail pieces, tradeshow displays, and so on. Some of those things may be right within your wheelhouse while others may be completely foreign.
Make an honest assessment of what you can handle yourself, what you can delegate in-house, and what you may need to outsource. These decisions may be based around skillsets, resources, or timeliness of the project.
For example, you may need a video produced and have someone on your team who can shoot the footage, but not render it to a final polished product in the time frame you need. This would be a great place to engage with a marketing partner who can facilitate the execution with extended resources outside of your capabilities.
- Call in Reinforcements
That leads us to the next tip: develop a set of resources that can support you in your marketing endeavors. Whether you pull together a team of independent contractors, work with a vendor network, or partner with an agency of record, knowing that you have a team of qualified specialists backing you up and complementing your skills will allow you to execute your marketing plan confidently and proficiently.
While looking for outside resources, it is important to vet candidates to make sure they’re the right fit. Include in your conversations with potential vendors:
- Samples of past work
- Industry-specific experience
- Goals and deliverables
Once you have any new content and other marketing pieces developed a big way to save time is to automate your marketing process and systems. Every bit of time you can save cuts down on costs, making your marketing spend that much more efficient. Use technology to your advantage by segmenting your prospects and then nurturing them based on timing, behavior, or demographics. All of these steps can be automated so that you can be marketing 24/7, without the need for intervention.
Whether you’re nurturing warm leads or sending out social media posts, there are numerous tools on the market to assist in making the most of your time and money. Some options to consider include HubSpot, Hootsuite, Canva, and Constant Contact, although there are many more depending on your plan, needs and resources.
- Track Results
Once you have content reaching your audience, it’s imperative to track your results. Most platforms or vendors you use will have data available to track the efficacy of your marketing initiatives. This could be in the form of digital ad impressions, email opens or clicks, website visits, all the way down to new MQLs created.
Match up the data you gather with the goals you set at the beginning of your campaign. Are you reaching the top-of-funnel numbers you planned for? Are conversions coming through at the rate you had anticipated? Tracking these types of metrics quarter-to-quarter, month-to-month, and even week-to-week can help you be sure that your efforts are not falling behind, leaving you off the mark at the end of the year.
- Adjust and Be Flexible
Because you’re tracking your results along the way, you have the ability to make adjustments and change course. While you don’t want to pull the rug out from under a campaign before it’s had the chance to take root, you want to make sure you're not allowing efforts that are not hitting the mark to squander your budget ineffectively.
Be ready to be flexible and try new things. When you’re planning at the beginning of the year, make sure to take note of the second and third options you may have decided weren’t right for this moment. If your first options aren’t netting results, consider tapping into a vertical or audience you had put on the back-burner. Similarly, test out new channels or content. Let the data in your results tell you what has been successful and try to apply those lessons in your new efforts.
To make sure you don't forget any details, we've provided a free checklist on 'How to Run an Inbound Marketing Campaign'. Click the link below to get started.