Archive for August, 2013

Marketing Budgets: Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck

We all want more for our money, but that doesn’t mean price is always the bottom line. While marketing strategies have a foundation in increasing sales, relationship-based approaches are bringing consumers and companies together in new and innovative ways. A successful marketing budget distributes time, money and talent across a variety of tactics — with a variety of goals — to deliver the highest overall return on investment (ROI).

Where Does the Money Go?

After the budget has been set, marketing departments funnel the funds across many different campaigns, such as brand creation, social media, Houston SEO, etc., to meet specific needs and goals. When determining where the money should go, marketing departments draw from two major strategies:

Relationship-Based Marketing

Also called customer relation marketing or customer relation management, this strategy focuses on the following:

  • Acquiring new customers
  • Retaining customers
  • Analyzing attrition data

Companies establish relationships with their customers and clients through regular, honest and knowledgeable communication. Understanding how to best start and continue conversations – particularly if social media is involved – needs to form the crux of all relationship-based marketing strategies.

Transactional Marketing

As its name suggests, transactional marketing is all about closing the deal and gaining sales, which includes the following elements:

  • Creating a product that satisfies a determined need
  • Establishing price points
  • Identifying the best distribution chains for the product
  • Building promotional campaigns around branded visuals

Typically, marketing budgets delegate funds to support both of these strategies. The sales-based goals of a transactional strategy can’t be ignored, and they also leave room for creative advertisements and other media. A great transactional strategy builds promotional campaigns that push customers to purchase the product, but also creates brand strategies that pull target customers toward the product.

While positive, branded experiences retain customers, transactional marketing doesn’t provide ongoing or long-term solutions for sustainability. The feedback loop created by relationship-based marketing can heavily influence brand and product strategies. Often, companies use the data gathered through customer surveys and direct feedback to tweak products and improve services. Additionally, participating directly with key audiences is an excellent opportunity for companies to secure quality leads and identify new markets for customer acquisition.

Making the Investment

Some companies want the best results money can buy. Others want high-quality work on a budget. Regardless of the amount being spent, the key to creating a successful marketing budget is to invest in the strategy that will ultimately yield the highest ROI. One way to guarantee such an increase is to hire a team of highly skilled professionals who can meet your marketing needs. For companies that cannot afford senior-level marketers or highly skilled team members, outsourcing might prove a more economical option.

Outsourced marketing agencies prevent you from having to learn seo jargon, etc.. and provide budgets for single, specialized services or comprehensive strategies. For example, a company with a limited budget and a short deadline may dedicate 100% of its funds to pay-per click strategies, while one with more resources will likely have a more diverse campaign spread among social media, PPC, SEO and email.

Having clear goals and a well-planned budget is an essential part of establishing a high ROI. Start by charting out your money via financial tables, pie charts, bar graphs and/or line graphs. Know where the money needs to go – such as email campaigns, print media, websites and social media, – then delegate funds accordingly. Include key variables, such as the percentage of the budget being used each month, customer acquisition and customer acquisition costs.

When it comes time to track your ROI, the charts and graphs provide a handy reference for pairing profits and other returns back to the amount of money specifically allocated to the various “buckets.” This allows you to better adjust future budgets so you spend smarter rather than spending harder.