November 6, 2016
Depending on your industry, year-end signals a period of celebration and rest. You look forward to taking a little time off around the holidays to enjoy family and friends. You reward employees and colleagues for a job well done. But business owners looking to grow their businesses next year may slow down, but they don’t check out. They use this time to reflect back over the year – the highs and lows – and plan their next move. And a crucial component to a successful growth strategy for next year is an increase in your marketing budget.
But as with any increase in spending for your business, the rationale behind increasing your marketing budget should be well-researched and sound. You don’t want to spend more unless you can make more as a result of that additional investment. But the only way you’ll figure that out is by first, auditing your marketing activities over the last ten months. Determine what worked and what didn’t. Then, you’ll want to make a series of plans for 2017 that align your business objectives with the marketing activities that worked this year, and a strategy to incorporate new initiatives to complement them.
However, for many boutique businesses, even with proven marketing results, it’s difficult to make the choice to invest more in marketing. The tendency is to stay with what’s working. Or even to scale back once the desired level of brand visibility is achieved. The reality is, however, marketing is an ongoing process, one that works best when it’s well-managed and well-funded.
So when deciding on whether or not to increase your marketing budget next year, these three simple reasons reveal why it makes sense to do so:
1. Marketing gives you a competitive advantage.
Not only are industries becoming more competitive, but consumers are expecting – no, demanding – better experiences from businesses. And this isn’t just retail, where shoppers expect omnichannel experiences. This expectation is across the board. To be relevant to consumers, get in front of them on channels where they’re searching for answers to questions you have solutions for. And that may not be on “free” social media.
Look at other ways to get in front of consumers with a clear and concise message – it could be print, digital, or broadcast. And it may not be free, so you’ll need to be prepared for that.
2. More sophisticated marketing helps you learn more about your audience.
A well-structured marketing system is a learning machine. Every process is designed to gather intelligence at each consumer touchpoint. This helps you create targeted content that’s meaningful to them. After each campaign, track marketing results and study audience behavior at a granular level. This provides valuable insights into how people engage with your content and if they find enough value in it to learn more.
But you may need to hire a marketing professional to develop a marketing system because of their complexity. Once designed, think of the time and money saved on no longer marketing to people who have no intention of buying. Think of the additional money made by reaching the people who are ready and willing to purchase.
3. A larger investment in marketing gives you a chance to innovate and be more creative.
Research from 3M Corporation found that the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than written content. For social media, a channel many businesses use to engage with consumers, visual content gets, on average, 40 times more engagement than text-heavy posts.
But creating visual content for your online channels requires an investment. While there are great freemium tools available, like Canva, not everyone has the creative chops to create visual content that can stand up to the competition.
So, assemble a creative team to help you brainstorm ideas to bring your brand to life visually. Invest in a skilled graphic designer to help you execute those ideas in a style that is authenic to your brand.
Your business is worth the investment.
Remember, your business is worth investing in. Spend the next few weeks taking a really good look at how well your business performed this year. How did your marketing – or the lack thereof – impacted sales?
Don’t be afraid to pull in the resources you need to improve your marketing in 2017. And that may mean allocating more funds to your marketing budget. With a carefully thought-out plan, actionable steps, and defined success metrics, your business will be well on its way to marketing success in the New Year.