Business dips and the first instinct for almost every business owner is this – cut the marketing budget!
I get it. That seems to be the one area that doesn’t have the most immediate affect on your business. It is a slow build and can be so frustrating because it is slow, and it is difficult to measure the results.
Marketing is also a BIG bucket that can absolutely be trimmed depending on your business goals, but cut? Not unless you use the precision of a trained neurosurgeon.
Investment vs Expense – A Case Study
Clearly I am biased, but let me give you a case study.
In March of 2020 the world came to a stunning halt. At the time I had two retail clients that were in the exact same industry. One of our clients decided that they needed to pull back and stop all marketing. The other decided that they would invest in their online presence and it paid off astronomically. Mind you they didn’t add to their budget, they just kept it the same as before the pandemic started.
While one client struggled, the other grew their revenue and ended up being 40% above their previous year’s sales. They were able to stay relevant and keep their current clients informed as they adapted their services through the pandemic, while the other went two years without real growth.
How Much Should You Invest?
The advice from multiple experts on developing growing businesses is that 6-8% of your total gross revenue needs to be invested in your marketing. This can definitely be spent in a variety of ways and invested in the efforts that will attract the most clients/customers to your door. The key here is that is needs to be invested to see growth in your business.
Social media marketing, emails, website design, SEO, print marketing, billboards – whatever form of marketing you choose, the dollars invested are the lifeblood of your business.
Pieces of the Marketing Pie
Let me dive a bit into the pieces that make up your marketing and some options on how to break out your budget.
Your website is your storefront when your brick and mortar business is closed, or perhaps it is your only storefront.
This is where people seek you out and look for more information. It is a valuable resource for your potential clients and customers! I often tell people that if you don’t have a website then you don’t have a business. Even before social media, I advise clients to build out a solid, clean and search engine optimized website.
Your website is a static space that explains what you do and how you do it. It is your first impression for a potential client and the space online where people come to learn more. What will your first impression be?
The initial cost to build a site is all over the map. It depends on how many pages, if you want customized areas, etc. We have quoted sites anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000.
If you are looking for someone to design your site then make sure you know the platform they will be building in and ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want to be able to make changes yourself?
- Will they be optimizing the content for search engines? (SEO)
- Can you easily swap out photos or can they do this for you?
- Do you need it to integrate with other apps – CRMs, Social Media feeds, Calendar with events, etc
- Do you want it to be interactive?
- What designs do you like?
– Do some research here and give the company something to work with. It’s important that they see your vision and can create the site you want to have.
If you are just starting out then this will be your biggest investment by far. Once it is established then having a simple maintenance plan will be plenty…then invest in SEO for it to grow.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
If you have a website then you need SEO. SEO is making sure that your site is ranking above your competition organically. Need a bigger boost? Then look into pay per click (PPC) ads.
Depending on the type of business you have, after your website is done, this is categorically your number 1 or 2 marketing investment.
This is our favorite place to be online. Shocked, aren’t you? 🙂
We want to connect with people and introduce them to who we are and what we do. In this space you can engage with your potential clients/customers and be able to truly find out what you audience is seeking from you. Are the services you are offering on par with what they are looking for? Do you need to adjust your messaging?
Social media is a tool for awareness, building relationships and a traffic driver to your website. It is also a great place for ads if your business works to establish those long term relationships. Remember, it takes someone 5 to 10 views before they click on an ad or investigate most businesses online.
This is also a reputation enhancing tool. Potential clients will go to your website and then they will search the social platforms to see what others are saying about your company and your services.
On the investment scale? This is definitely your number one TIME investment, it would also be your number 1 or 2 area for monetary investment.
Is your business the type where people are looking to use your services or products right now? Then you should budget some of your marketing money for search engine ads. This allows your site to show up on the top of the page. Honestly, how far do you scroll down a page?
On the investment scale – this is number 2 or 3. If social media is a better investment because your service isn’t often immediate then definitely place this a bit lower on the need list.
Email is a retention tool. It is the way that you can build relationships with your current and past customers. It allows you to introduce new products and services while keeping your clients up to date on everything going on in your business.
Plus, if there is ever a time where social media should go away, you don’t have access to all of those followers if you don’t find a way to get their emails. Freemiums are key here. 😉
Invest in this. There is no number, this is a baseline need for a small business.
Yes. Some businesses still benefit greatly from print advertising. Whether it is a local magazine or a specific coupon packet to their area, this can be a highly effective form of marketing for certain businesses.
On the scale of need I tend to put this pretty low on the marketing investment scale. That being said, this is very dependent on the business.
You Need to be Found
Marketing your business is how you are found online or in person. Referrals are amazing and very much needed, (get out and network!) but you also need to cultivate those outside of your circle to seek you out when they need your services. If you aren’t visible in the digital landscape, then how will people find you?
Your business is the eye of a storm – a HUGE hurricane full of immense possibility. Your goal is to become the haven for those lost in the storm. You are the center and need to pull them all in.
You send out information to gather attraction through social media posts and videos and they move closer.
You have a Google ad set up so that a potential client can get even closer to you.
They click on your website…Eureka! They are in the eye.
Then what happens? They get pulled out again.
Maybe they are closer to you but you need to ensure they don’t drift too far. So you send out emails to remind them of the benefits of working with you and follow it up with your social media posts to keep them interested.
It is a dance that is played every day. Seek out new potential clients, build connections and then nurture those relationships.
This isn’t something that can be done without marketing. Could you have a banner season? Absolutely! And that is AMAZING! When the coffers are plentiful is when we need to ensure we are focused on when they are not (which is so hard to do) so investing in your brand awareness and overall digital marketing strategy is key to keeping the banner times plentiful and the low times few and far between.
Questions or comments? We love to hear from you! Comment on this post or send us an email or DM or Instagram or Facebook, and we just joined Spoutible! It will be open to the public soon but I’ll be sure to give you the download in an upcoming post.
Until next time friends, be kind online.