When you hear the words “marketing budget” do you cringe? Do you immediately imagine your bank account running dry? At least you’re budgeting for marketing, right? You throw a few leftover dollars into that category and cross your fingers and hope your return will be high. What’s wrong with that, you may be asking? Everything! Marketing is an asset, not an expense.
It Could Cost You
Is your marketing budget an expense or investment? Your budget is most likely being treated as an expense if its a line item lumped in with your other costs. You invest a lot of energy cutting costs to save money. That’s great! But what if you started viewing your budget, not as one of your monthly expenses, but rather as an investment that will grow your profit and your brand? Sure, you need to budget for marketing. But, if you are constantly striving to keep costs low by decreasing your marketing budget, you are missing out on a golden opportunity to optimize your marketing plan and to maximize your efforts to their fullest potential. You’re most likely overlooking what needs to be improved, changed, or missing what is actually working. Cutting back your budget because you see it as an expense can ultimately cut your profit.
Marketing as an Asset
Marketing drives revenue, therefore, it needs to be considered an asset for your business. You can’t afford to nix your marketing budget, even when times are tough. By focusing your dollars on marketing, you are guaranteeing that your brand’s message is out there. It’s being seen and heard. How else will your customers be exposed to your product or service if they can’t find what you offer? Customers want to find you online, on TV, on the radio, in their mailboxes, on billboards, and in their neighborhoods.
Create Content Your Customers Want and Need
Content marketing is becoming a staple for most businesses. Creating content that is helpful, valuable, and informative for your customers increases leads, sales, and brand awareness. From white papers, eBooks, and blog posts to building a social media presence, your customers want information and expect you to be online, providing answers and solutions for what they seek.
Your marketing campaigns are an investment. Your content is an asset and “tells the story of your brand.” Your content assets (i.e., email marketing, social media, blog posts, eBooks, newsletters, and lead generation materials) will work for you and provide leads that ultimately convert to sales. But first you must decide what your business goals are and ensure your content is in line with those goals. Ask yourself why you’re creating content in the first place, in order to develop a solid plan. This is what turns your marketing budget line item from a cost into an investment.
Tracking Your Marketing Efforts
Today, just about everything is trackable. There are many tracking tools available to gauge the performance of your marketing efforts and ROI. It’s important to choose a metric to track and then decide how it will be measured. Some quantifiable metrics to measure include: online visitors and their sources, keyword rankings, online sales, lead generation, social media engagement, and email open rates, to name a few. With real, quantitative results you can confidently optimize for future campaigns, make better decisions, and experience a higher ROI. Make your budget work for you!
But as advanced as these tracking tools are, they don’t really take into consideration harder to track media, like radio. Unless you know how to look for it that is. In cases like this, it’s all about the goals you’ve set out to accomplish with your marketing. For example, when was the last time someone walked into your business saying they’re there because they heard your ad on the radio? Probably not very often. But can you imagine how many people hear your ad on the radio and then visit your website? Probably a lot more than you think. In the end, it’s all about the goals and objectives you’ve set with your media partner. If you’re sales are going up then they are doing their job!
Your brand won’t depreciate like a building, car, or equipment. Instead it will reward you greatly if you begin to treat your marketing budget like the valuable investment that it is and stop treating it as an expense. Set business goals, devise a plan, decide which metrics will be measured to track ROI, and create content in line with your business’ goals. Treating your marketing as an investment can turn your business around by helping you see what improvements need to be made, what your customers really want, and how you can actually reach your business goals instead of just presenting them on a piece of paper.