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Here’s How to Grow in 2014

Posted by advantagemarketing on January 6, 2014

Marketing in 2014

Here are some tips to help you stick to your marketing plan and grow your company in 2014.

Don’t ring in the New Year without a marketing plan in place that will help you grow your company. At Advantage Marketing, we’ve been working with clients who are deep into planning for 2014. Here’s some of the advice we’re sharing with them so that they stay on track:

Don’t look for quick fixes. First and foremost, recognize that growth doesn’t come from quick fixes. You’re better off relying on tested and effective marketing tactics to put prospects in your pipeline. For example, one of our clients is planning quarterly sales and marketing campaigns that include direct mail blasts plus email and phone follow-up with prospects. Such an organized, methodical approach is going to result in real business growth over the entire year.

Make a real commitment. The marketing and business development efforts you implement will take time and effort and therefore a long-term commitment. We advise our clients that if they are truly committed and stick to their plan, growth WILL happen!

Ask for client input. In the book The Pumpkin Plan, author Mike Michalowicz talks about the “Wish List”.  It’s not your wish list, but your clients’. Mike has a sneakily effective way to tease it out of them: ask your clients questions about the industry not about your company. Wish List questions you can ask include: What is most confusing about my industry? What frustrates you about vendors in my industry? What do you wish we would do differently? Listen closely to the answers and you will identify golden opportunities for your company.

Build on successes. Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, say that when it comes to change, we’ll tend to ask, “What’s the problem and how do I fix it?” But often we can benefit more by asking a different question: “What’s working and how can I do more of it?” In other words, we can learn from our own “bright spots.” What bright spots did your marketing have in 2013? How can you build on them?

Focus, focus, focus. As business owners, we multitask way too often, to the point where we may think it’s a luxury to do just one thing at a time. But in reality, you’re not getting more done by trying to switch between tasks frequently. In fact, you’re probably making more mistakes. Studies have estimated that multitasking can cause your productivity to drop by 40%! Instead of driving yourself crazy, set up your day so that you are doing similar tasks at the same time. For instance, set aside time in the morning and afternoon to focus on email. Ignore it the rest of the time, and you will find your productivity increasing and your frustration decreasing.

Don’t spread your efforts too thin. If your company is just starting on social media and you’re updating your website and running email and direct mail campaigns, then adding more marketing tactics – having a booth at the industry’s big trade show, for instance – can actually derail your overall marketing efforts. Wait until you have the website finished and your campaigns are running smoothly before you add one more thing.

 Stay accountable. Track your hits and misses and share them with your team. Brainstorm about why a particular tactic didn’t work, so that you can improve. For instance, if your direct mail or email campaign is not getting a good response, have team members evaluate the campaign’s copy and call-to-action, as well as the mailing lists used. Each of these factors can influence your response rate and can be tweaked or overhauled as necessary for the next campaign.

Celebrate often. All work and no play can lead to a dispirited and unmotivated team. Make a habit of recognizing and celebrating successes both big and small. This goes a long way to keeping your marketing efforts on track and your team motivated to succeed. The rewards don’t have to be huge. One HVAC contractor we know tracks successes on a big blackboard in the break room. It has become a badge of honor among employees to have your name up on that board.

What are you doing to grow your company in 2014? Share it with us in the Comments section below.

Do you need help ramping up your firm’s marketing for growth? Let’s talk! Sign up for a complimentary marketing assessment to get started.

Posted in B2B marketing, Business, Consulting, Email marketing, Marketing, Marketing budget, Marketing plans, Marketing Strategy, Professional service firm marketing, small business, Traditional marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

An Update on 7 Marketing Plan Must-Haves: Setting a Realistic Budget

Posted by advantagemarketing on June 20, 2013

setting a marketing budget

Use these investment guidelines to set a marketing budget that will pay off in higher quality leads for your company.

Must-have #7 in the 7 Marketing Plan Must-Haves is the marketing budget. We’re finding, however, that many small business owners are reluctant to set a budget. As a result, they’re taking a haphazard approach to marketing their company, if they’re marketing at all. The result? Their sales reps often have to work harder and longer to close business.

Folks, it’s time to put your big boy/big girl pants on. If you want your company to stand out in a crowded marketplace, you must invest in your marketing and do so consistently over time. And did you know that investing in your company’s brand and thought leadership positioning (often called content marketing) can shorten your sales cycle and reduce selling costs? According to HubSpot, the average cost of a lead generated via content marketing techniques was 60% less ($134 vs. $332) than leads generated through other methods.

These investment guidelines can help you set a realistic marketing budget:

  • According to the Small Business Administration, companies should be investing 7% of their annual revenues in marketing. So for a $1 million company, this means an investment of $70,000 per year.
  • Marketing Sherpa’s survey says smaller companies (<100 employees) are allocating 11% of sales to their marketing budgets.
  • B2B companies should allocate 11% of their revenues to marketing, according to the Chief Marketing Officers Council.
  • Professional service firms typically can invest 5% of revenues each year in their marketing, based on the CMO Council’s research.

The bottom line: Use the guidelines above to set a marketing budget and stick to it! A wise marketing investment will pay off over time with better, more qualified leads and ultimately more business for your company.

Posted in B2B marketing, Business, Marketing, Marketing budget, Marketing plans, small business, Thought leadership, Traditional marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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