Last week I was asked by Barclays Bank to speak at one of their events about this topic.
Due to the nature of my business, I meet a lot of people who start off by saying "marketing is expensive" and I then find out a bit more about their business and talk them through why that should never be the case and how to avoid that scenario.
It is often the case that the marketing investment simply isn't producing the results for the business (hence 'expensive'). It's usually however a result of either little or no planning/tactics, lack of experience in the industry by the person making the decisions, miss-management of the available budget, ill-informed decisions, a lack of tracking performance and typically a combination of many of these factors.
If you're in control of your marketing, you should only ever treat it as an investment.
My most basic advice to you all is to ensue you are tracking your sales and understand what's driving them in to the business. It's great to track leads but you really want to know what your cost per new customer/order is by each marketing channel. You also need to consider how all the areas work together to strengthen awareness and improve the value which convinces Joe Public to interact with you.
For example, you might find that search engines are fantastic at driving leads in to the business...but when you pull your advertising back, suddenly the conversions fall off. That could be because you've changed from a brand which was seen in a variety of locations and added credibility, to becoming 'just another website' - which depending on your sector and target audience, will have an impact. In this scenario you have to ask yourself if you're doing enough and maybe you need to look at spending more in other areas to really generate the level of awareness your target audience will respond to.
There's a lot to say on this subject and the advice will differ for each business I talk to because their set-up, objectives and motivations will all vary.
I hope to hear from you soon.
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