A question that I have been working on for a number of weeks… Where would I focus my marketing budget at different budget levels? What activities provide the biggerst return on your marketing dollars? What would I recommend for a marketing budget?
These are common questions that I get when I build a marketing organization directly or I provide marketing consulting. It is especially relavent with so many companies slashing marketing budgets, at the same time looking for something to change the rules and build a foundation for growth.
My short list of critical marketing activities are below… budget is harder because you have to take a lot more factors into account; such as industry, sale cycle, channels, pricing, packaging, type of product, type of services, size of company, growth expectations, etc…
1. Branding – the ability to tell your story, make it compelling, and differentiate yourself is critical.
2. Website – making sure that the website tells the right story, is search optimized, and credentials your organization. Some websites sell, but most are really sales support or customer support. The best sites manage the customer relationship. Depending on the industy, maturity, etc. I would recommend building an online community (social media components embedded into the website) to manage the pre-sales activities (community) and the one-to-one customer account activities (private groups).
3. Demo, Video, Sample, Picture, Flash, etc. – something that is a tangible representation of your offering that communicates the value of the offering which can be syndicated out through social media sites, Youtube, etc.
4. References, Case Studies, and Testimonials – Communicating value in a tangible way, credentialling your ability to deliver the solution
5. Collateral, PowerPoint, Flash, Webinars, Seminars, etc. – Depending upon your industry, there are accepted norms for delivering the pitch… some industries it can be done your website, via webinar, others require a PowerPoint, others still use PDFs. Irregardless of the medim, you have to tell the “visual story”; solution, pictures/imagery, value proposition, differentiation, package, pricing, functions, features….
6. Online Marketing – Search Engine Pay-Per-Click, Search Optimized Press Releases, Linkedin, Facebook, other industry specific social media sites/groups, maybe a banner ad on critical industry sites, etc.
7. Media, Blogger, & Analyst Outreach / Industry-specific Online CommunitySocial & Forum participation – The lines between traditional media, bloggers, analysts, and communities are blurring. You have to have a strong presence and recognize the contribution those who follow the industry have on buyers.
8. Multi-channel Marketing – Email, direct mail, personal landing pages, drip marketing, campaigns, analytics, etc. You need a good outbound marketing engine as most companies cannot rely on networking & inbound referrals alone. You also should tie it into a good CRM system so that you can make the information actionable.
9.Events, Conferences, Tradeshows – With the economy tight, a lot of the travel dollars have been slashed, but participation is still a good way to get out of your own network. Selection of which to attend is more art than science, but a good rule of thumb is “go where the customers are”…
10. Partnerships – getting a partnership is really only the first step in actually getting business from partners. Nurturing relationships, training and supporting, building solution value, providing sales support, and providing channel marketing are the real challenge in getting sustainable business. “Build it & they will come” doesn’t usually work for partnerships, either.
Bottom line, is this is a generic list of activities, but the secret sauce is prioritizing where you spend your limited dollars. I write about social media a great deal as I believe that done correctly that it can be a game changer, but the real value is focusing on doing the marketing basics really well. You can always build upon a great foundation, but you have to crawl before you walk before you run.