Budgeting is one of those words which strikes boredom into the hearts of many. But at McCauley Marketing Services, we view the yearly budget as a puzzle or a brainteaser—an opportunity to find a combination of cost-effective yet successful strategies that work for each of our diverse clients. Creating a true marketing budget goes beyond simply saying, “I’m going to allocate $XYZ toward marketing this year.” Instead, it should be a specific outline of where exactly you’re planning to put your investment of time and money: how much into web content, how much into pay-per-click digital ads, how much into specific print publications, how much into internal marketing efforts, how much into public relations, etc., along with your expectations and how you plan on tracking the success of each campaign.
If you’re having trouble getting started, here are a few tips to help.
- Identify your specific goals first. Every company’s goal is to make money, but think about specifically how to go about it this year and how much time and effort you’re truly willing to put into it. For instance, is there a particular demographic with a lot of potential that you want to reach? Is there a certain product or service you want to emphasize above the others? How many hours are you truly able to put in each week while still feeling balanced between your work and your family life? Answering questions like these will help you identify your target audience and how to reach them.
- Make mobile a priority. Research shows that consumers are spending more and more time on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Having a mobile-friendly responsive site is already imperative, because Google gives these responsive sites a higher position in search results than those that aren’t mobile-friendly, but you should also make room in the budget for mobile advertising or other ways you can reach people on the go.
- Make it personal. Consumers are constantly bombarded with advertising, so rather than making your marketing materials overly general, try to focus in and target specific groups of consumers by putting out ads they can identify with and materials which speak directly to their situations.
- Keep your company’s age and your products’ age in mind. During your first several years as a company, you should plan to put a larger amount of money into creating a presence in your community and getting your name out there. The same is true when you’re introducing a new product or service. Once you’ve established a reputation for yourself and your services, you may be able to ease up a bit—as long as you maintain a large enough budget to keep your momentum moving.
- Don’t try to be an expert at all things social media. It’s true that social media marketing should be a critical part of any company’s marketing plan, because it reaches such a large number of people. But trying to be a jack of all trades by becoming an expert on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, and Pinterest all at once will leave you as a master of none. Instead, choose one to focus the majority of your energy on so you still have enough time to put out meaningful content and connect with your consumers. It’s also important to realize that social media is not the only form of marketing you should invest in. In fact, it works best when it’s done in conjunction with blogs, events, and other topics. After all, you need interesting content in order for users to want to pay attention to your social media pages.
- Budget for ways to keep existing customers, too. Internal marketing is extremely important. While gaining new business is exciting, allot some funding for rewarding your existing clientele or enhancing your relationship with them. Not only can this help to ensure repeat business, but it can lead to referrals as well when they tell their family and friends how happy they’ve been with your company. After all, it took you a lot of time, money, and effort to bring in your existing customers, so why not make the most of your results?
- Don’t forget about the time and talent a campaign will require. For example, if you’re considering doing a magazine ad, don’t just think about the cost of the print advertising Remember that in order for it to be effective, not only do you need ads in the right places, but you also need to have the right creative team to make an effective ad that stands out and communicates the appropriate message, and they need to have the time to do a thorough job.
- Take advantage of live video and other social media trends. Live video has taken off this year, especially with Facebook Live, and the trend is only expected to grow in 2017. Be sure to build the time and funding into your budget to take advantage of this and other popular trends on social media.
December is an incredibly busy time of the year for many companies, but don’t let the holidays overshadow the need to prepare ahead. Giving yourself the time you need to truly look at your company’s data and the current trends in your industry and make well-thought-out choices can give you a crucial jump on success in 2017. This is just a sampling of tips and techniques to consider in the year ahead. If you want experienced marketing professionals to help you work through your budget and marketing plan, carry out your ideas, or both, schedule a meeting with McCauley Marketing Services. Or, for more business tips, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.