Since I’ve been given to talking about marketing investments recently, sharing a new report from RSW/US seems appropriate. It shows 51% of marketers expecting to ‘somewhat or heavily increase’ their spending on marketing and advertising in 2015. It also shows 62% of agency marketers saying the same of their clients.
Regardless of what this group of 123 senior-level brand marketers and 158 marketing agency execs said, you want to make sure you’re investing smartly regardless of what direction your marketing-advertising budget is going this year. That said, the following are a few areas that are most likely to have the strongest impact in the overall return on your marketing investments.
Audit your systems
Start by asking yourself: Do you have the technology to do what you need to do (content management system, marketing automation, customer relationship management)? Are you using it explicitly for your needs? Have you over-invested and should reallocate funding from one system to another? How well do your current platforms allow for future growth and attainment of company goals down the road? (For some more context on the technology, read Trond Lyngbø’s recent “Digital Marketing Advice For The Forward-Thinking Business In 2015.”)
Go big on content marketing (quality, not quantity)
The world doesn’t need more content, it needs better content. One of the well known (yet less-talked-about) consequences of the content marketing movement is the creation of tons of meaningless content. Some marketers (not you, of course) cranked up the machine, but haven’t necessarily been monitoring for quality. Let’s draw an analogy to black-hat SEO: Marketers have (and will) abuse SEO, but the true professionals understand that harming site visitors or damaging a company’s reputation for short-term gain is foolish.
If your content is just contributing more trash to the Internet wasteland, then you need to rethink what you’re doing. One answer: Hire a great writer, or invest in your existing content crew by hiring a dedicated designer or providing opportunities for training and development. Producing great content is near impossible if you don’t have great writers at your service.
Break artificial boundaries between sales and marketing
60-70% of B2B marketing content goes unused by sales (via SiriusDecisions). Underscoring this pathetic reality, 28% of SiriusDecisions’ Summit 2013 attendees said their organizational content process was in the ‘Dark Ages.’ If this represents the state of your organization’s content process in 2015, consider it a colossal failure of marketing AND salespeople. Why do I say both? Because everyone needs to take responsibility for either not creating fabulous content, promoting/sharing it internally, or offering better ideas for what prospects actually want and need (if the content is useless). The organizations that invest in the collaboration between these groups should expect greater efficiency, and the purposeful adoption of automation/CRM technology can play a large role.
Keep in mind technology is just the beginning; if your salespeople don’t talk to marketing (and vice-versa), what good is the fancy platform going to do you? Pro tip for those who aren’t sure if sales cats and marketing dogs (yeah, that’s me) can live together: Organize regular sales-marketing happy hours. As much as you need to be working together in the office, you should also try venturing out and tearing down the usual barriers. Nothing cuts through suspicion and mistrust like a cold adult beverage or two. After a couple $5 mixed-drink specials, even sworn enemies will be holding hands … and more likely to help the ‘other side’ in future initiatives. Trust me on this one.
Define and articulate your brand promise
B2C or B2B, old or new, existing or redesigned website, I don’t care. Make sure you know exactly what you stand for, and then tell the best story(-ies) about it. Nobody can resist a good story, especially your ideal customer about a matter of great importance to his/her life. You’re different from all those other guys (and gals). Let it show. For more tips on how to do this, check out Ulli Appelbaum’s “26 Universal Questions for Positioning Your Brand (and Creating Your Brand Story).”
Implement the above with care, and you’ll be well on your way to having a winning marketing investment, whether you are “somewhat or heavily” increasing your spending, cutting back, or just holding steady. Whatever the current state of your company’s marketing budget, use your money (and resources) wisely to avoid poor investment performance.