Shaping Marketing Budgets for 2013 with Growth in Mind

‘Tis the season to budget! It is 2013 budgeting time, and I just got out of a meeting with our CFO. Thankfully, I survived. I’d like to think the meeting went so well because our marketing team submitted a very defensible and smart marketing budget…but it also helps that Kevin is a super-nice guy.

Consistent with our belief system, Fathom’s investments in marketing and advertising must be held highly accountable. We have grown our business by developing and implementing highly accountable digital marketing strategies for our clients to drive leads and revenue … and we expect to do the same for ourselves.

We, too, are B2B marketers, and it’s great walking in the same shoes as our clients. It gives us a great perspective on the same challenges they face in allocating marketing budgets wisely. The primary (if not exclusive) focus of our marketing efforts is lead generation—we even go so far as to give our marketing team a quota.

We’ve made pretty substantial changes in our marketing budget allocation based upon our experiences over the past year.

Constantly examining the sources of our leads, we want to be budgeting more for the types that deliver our ideal client and also the highest ROI.

Pinpointing the source(s) of our growth enables us to constantly refine our strategy.

So, where are we placing our money? What lead sources do we expect to contribute to our growth?

While we have data wonks (whom I love) at the company that parse every single digital signal to determine ROI for our clients, for the purposes of running the broader Fathom business, we like to keep it simple and focus on 7 lead sources in Salesforce:

  1. Web (organic and paid)
  2. Phone-in
  3. Partner referral
  4. Purchased list
  5. Trade show
  6. Cold call
  7. Print/electronic media

We are fortunate because item #3—referrals—continues to be a large part of our growth. We’re thrilled to have our best clients and industry partners like BrightEdge and Act-On Software provide referrals. The ROI on this lead source is unbeatable. Referrals are great, but they are also hard to plan for and make revenue forecasting difficult.

The next best lead source for us is the Web, mainly organic search. This continues to contribute a high volume of leads at a very low CPL (cost per lead). Our content strategy and organic optimization brings us an annuity of traffic. We enter new Web inquiries into a nurturing program that we constantly refine by using marketing automation software. Parsing marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) and sales-qualified leads (SQLs) makes the process more efficient for us and more engaging for our visitors.

The newest and very promising area for us is the expansion of our outbound model through the deployment of a sales development team. We’ve had a 5X growth this year from outbound as a lead source. We’ve been influenced by the model presented in Predictable Revenue. Our sales development team has embraced a modified “cold calling 2.0” model. The refinement of our ideal-client profile and the deployment of a highly targeted go-to-market strategy has been instrumental in the success of our refreshed outbound model. Sure, we’ve had some bumps along the way, and we continue to test and learn, but this remodeling of our revenue performance management has resulted in a clearer growth horizon.

I can say for certain that we do not intend to spend any money on print/electronic media or purchased leads in 2013. The ROI on these two areas does not justify the expense. It’s very difficult, if not impossible, for these sources to achieve the same level of accountability and deliver the same value as SEM and outbound.

Ultimately, when planning our marketing investment, we make sure that we are putting the maximum dollars (and time) towards activities that help us grow predictable revenue faster and more efficiently.  And we encourage clients to do the same.


Photo courtesy of || UggBoy♥UggGirl || PHOTO || WORLD || TRAVEL || via Flickr.

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