How to create a marketing budget for the first time.
I’ve worked in a few different industries, big and small, for-profit and not-for-profit, and all of them take marketing spending seriously. I’m also confident that you are no different in this case, no matter the size of your company. To move forward and create a solid plan, we look at the ways to approach and outsmart your fear of marketing spending.
Fear makes more decisions for us than we likely care to admit. If we are considering something that we have not tried, it’s scary when there are dollars attached to that decision. More so, if you don’t have lots of dollars to gamble. With that in mind, I wanted to approach this from a place where you can feel comfortable moving forward, using those dollars appropriately, and setting expectations on the return.
When making marketing decisions, use the following questions to get you to a place where you can determine your next move.
What is the ultimate goal that needs to be reached? Are you looking to build recognition with a new brand? Are you looking to build an online community? Are you trying to boost online sales? Understanding the needed approach and outcomes for each goal is key and will keep you from wasting resources.
Look at your sales funnel to see where your program is deficient. This is a simplified version, but yours probably looks something like this if you are reasonably active:
You will notice that some of these tactics repeat. Social media covers a lot of ground from initial brand introduction to flash sale announcements.
Is this tactic measurable? How will you measure it? Find out what the actual benchmarks are for this tactic/channel in your industry. Most tactics are measurable now compared with a few years ago. For things like sponsorships and other more tricky to track options, don’t immediately discount them. Extensive visibility and the ability to get even more eyes on your brand may be what you need, depending on the goal you need to reach right now.
You will need to weight your tactics. Social media and digital advertising have the potential to reach a broad audience; however, a positive in-person introduction goes a long way to answer specific questions, get a feel for the company (What kind of people do they hire? Are they knowledgable?).
Sort it out in bite sizes. Maybe all you need is a consult to get started and have that person weigh in on your results, which is a smaller spend upfront. If you are using a system that requires a fair bit of management, such as social media or AdWords, it’s worth understanding better and having a sound strategy to get the most from your test dollars.
Can you run it in-house, or do you need to find outside support? If you have some admin support to manage or keep an eye on it while it runs, is that all that’s required? For things like AdWords, you need to keep a daily watch on your ad performance and keywords, and to make adjustments as needed.
New marketing tactics are often tests. Approach this like a scientific study, track your activity, not just dollars. Put a toe in the water; see what you get and tweak. Wash, rinse, repeat. Set a small dollar amount and a short (but not unreasonable) test time to allow it to work. Give it time. A month is usually a reliable place to test and gather enough data.
In a very competitive market, don’t expect a massive return off the bat. Goals should be reasonable. I had an e-commerce group that gained 14% for the year in online sales in a very saturated market, using only limited channel social media and regularly released product launches (See my product launch worksheet to make this easier for any equine product manufacturer). We were thrilled.
Talk to others in your industry and find out what is working for them. Sponsorships, sponsored riders, or sponsored social media can be a moderate place to start for increasing brand recognition in the equine world. This is called your “marketing mix;” the combination of where you are seen that gives you the results you want.
Keep your message consistent across your activities. This is key for your brand, no matter your service, product, or marketing channel.
Gather your answers as best you can, allocate your resources, test for a reasonable time, tweak and stay visible!