Put Your Money Where Your Marketing Is: When to Spend?

Put Your Money Where Your Marketing Is: When to Spend?

In a world of unlimited resources, you’d probably market your company on full throttle 24/7. But we’re not in that world, and more often than not, budgets need to be made months in advance. In light of this reality, how can you determine when you should invest more in marketing? Contrary to popular belief, the percentage of your annual budget that you spend on marketing should be determined by business development, not your bottom line — meaning that when times get tough, it’s not the time to cut. So the question becomes: Without wanting to be on full speed year-round, when is the time right to push a campaign?

You should invest in marketing when...

You launch something new: I recently took on a client who just started building his personal brand. Less than 24 hours after I’d sent the first-ever press release, he emailed me to say he felt like the effort was a flop because he hadn’t yet gone viral. (He had, however, already participated in several press interviews.) I giggled a bit and told him to relax. 

The reason behind my reaction? Even the most quality product will fail without a layered and thought-out marketing campaign to get the word out — for the launch party and beyond. An initial marketing strategy takes a lot of time and relationship building, so the key is to work with an experienced marketer to determine realistic expectations and goals for at least several months. Like my client, most business owners think their baby is fresh and exciting and should catch on instantaneously, but the fact is that viral internet sensations around products rarely happen overnight — even when it seems like they do.

There are substantial changes to your product or service: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this is the most critical time to launch a campaign. Regardless of your field, customer retention is always easier and less costly than customer acquisition, so it’s essential to handhold those already supporting you with business. 

Case in point: A while back, I joined a membership organization that had undergone substantial changes, but no marketing campaign had been focused on addressing those changes. The result? The help@ account was clogged with questions and, even worse, some members were actually trashing the group on message boards because they no longer saw the value in belonging. While there was still plenty of value in membership — much more than when most members had originally joined, in fact — without addressing the updates through a multi-faceted campaign, retention suffered. In the end, it took a full reactivation campaign that was undoubtedly more expensive and time-consuming than appropriately communicating the changes would have been in the first place to get the company’s numbers back on track. 

You aren’t seeing new traffic: You’ve had your dream business for a few years. Your clients are generally happy, your online reviews are good, but you aren’t seeing new customers. 

Over time, even quality businesses will lose customers — when people move, find a new hobby, experience a shift in personal finances, etc. — so if you aren’t seeing new clients, you will see dwindling revenue. This is the time to invest in marketing. Having a quality product or service alone doesn’t help with acquisition, but when accompanied by marketing, the results can be significant. 

You’re having an event – ESPECIALLY if it’s a repeat: Putting on events is a great way to stir up excitement about your brand (even if it isn’t just focused on your company), and you should treat every one as a marketing opportunity. Unfortunately, even the most anticipated annual events begin to feel trite after a while, so to combat the monotony, employ a fresh marketing campaign to remind users about the things they’ve always loved while sprinkling in some new twists to get them excited again. 

I used to work for an organization that hosted a week-long conference. Attendance was strong, but relatively stagnant, and the program struggled to attract high-level attendees on all days. So — what did I do? I started reminder emails six months out, except I didn’t opt for the tired “Reminder: Insert Boring Event Here is in May” style communication. Instead, each email had “news” — things that I intentionally would not allow to be announced outside the newsletter (even if that meant leaving out certain details), so we could encourage people to open each reminder. I watched as the click through rate (CTR) climbed with each email as opposed to dropping as it had in years past, and the attendance — especially by VIPs — was higher than ever before.

You’re killing it: When you are busy with “tons of customers” and have “more business than you can handle,” it’s tempting to stop marketing entirely. After all, your attention is needed elsewhere to assist all your clients. DO NOT STOP. Marketing often takes time to build traction and produce results. If you stop and wait until you are “slow” again, you will be slow for far longer than you want to be. In times like these, try and reframe how you think about marketing. You don’t have to do ALL the things, but you should focus on a few things and do them well. My advice? Take this opportunity to restructure or streamline your efforts.

The bottom line? Marketing can mean a lot of things, and you need to keep it going. Contact us to help you determine where you should focus your efforts to make the biggest impact today.

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