Marketing is a long-term investment. And, for those who know us, you’ve often heard us say that a diversification strategy should be part of this long-term plan. With many companies and causes having to work within a finite marketing budget to execute their marketing plans, the question is: How do I prioritize my marketing budget?
1. Lay the Foundation
What is the central hub around which your marketing program will be built? For many companies and causes, the answer is their website. And, while a strong, well-optimized website is an integral part of an effective marketing program, that website needs to be on-brand…which raises the question: Is your brand in order?
A cohesive brand encompasses everything from your logo and tagline to your mission/vision and elevator speech. The bottom line is that you need to make sure the look and feel, message and tone of your brand accurately reflects your company or cause and that it is the foundation on which you want to build your marketing program. If your brand needs a refresh, better to do it on the front end than build an elaborate marketing program around it only to have to backtrack 6-months or a year down the line to address branding challenges.
II. Build Infrastructure
What systems, processes and programs does your company or cause need to ensure your marketing program can be implemented effectively? This may entail new email marketing software, inbound marketing software, a CRM system, and the list goes on. On the processes side of the equation, what talent do you need to allocate – or possibly acquire – internally and externally to optimize your marketing ROI?
As marketing continues to become more integrated, aligning closely with sales and fundraising and encompassing a broad range of communication channels, having the infrastructure in place to support everything from execution to measurement and sales monitoring is critical for success.
III. Align Your Goals with Your Bandwidth
Ask yourself, what is my number one organizational goal for this year? And, how can marketing help me achieve this goal? While prioritizing is key to get the maximum value from your marketing spend, it can be challenging to know where to start. Some organizations want to be early adopters and start by implementing the latest marketing trend while others want to go with the tried-and-true traditional tactics. While neither approach is right or wrong, the marketing tools and tactics you implement should be aligned with your organizational goals. Here are a few examples:
- Goal: Position the CEO as an industry thought leader. Marketing Priority? A strategic public relations program that leverages earned media to showcase the CEO’s expertise by way of interviews, guest columns/bylined articles, etc.
- Goal: Generate qualified leads through thewebsite. Marketing Priority? Ensure the website is optimized for lead generation and develop an inbound/content marketing strategy to attract web-surfing target audiences.
- Goal: Diversify funding streams, including attracting new individual/private donors. Marketing Priority? A community relations program that leverages individual outreach, media relations/PR and social media marketing to attract and engage new stakeholders with the goal of securing smaller donations and inspiring community-based fundraising events to benefit your cause.
IV. Sniff Out the Competition
While some companies are more inclined to allocate marketing dollars to competing in the same space as their competitors, others choose to allocate their budgets to implementing the strategies and tactics that their competitors aren’t using. In some instances, this decision is informed by budget (it’s hard to overshadow the competition when their advertising budget is four-to-five times as large as yours) while it is other times informed by other intelligence. Regardless of which approach best suits your brand, focus on implementing a research-informed strategy for which the outcomes can be clearly quantified/measured.
V. Anticipate the Impact
As I mentioned early on in this post, integration has become an increasingly prominent and important component of marketing. It allows marketing’s impact to stretch across departments and teams, align with sales and fundraising goals and contribute significantly to an organization’s bottom line. And, while it isn’t the only tactic in your company or cause’s toolkit, it has the potential to make a lasting impact on your organization.
With this in mind, it’s important to anticipate and project the impact anything and everything from launching a new website, ramping up email marketing, implementing a proactive public relations program, reallocating a print advertising budget to digital, launching a social media marketing program, etc., could have on your organization. Which drives us back to the third point – know your bandwidth. While growth is most often a ‘happy problem’ it’s important that your company/cause and marketing program can scale alongside one another as seamlessly as possible.
While an unlimited marketing budget isn’t commonplace, knowing how to get the most value out of what budget you do have is an important part of building a sustainable, long-term marketing program that is aligned with organizational goals and consistently generates ROI.