It’s not what you spend, it’s HOW you spend

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Recently I was chuffed that a client who is an accomplished marketing manager in her own right emailed me to ask me for my opinion on how her company should allocate their marketing budget in the year ahead. Interestingly she gave me four possible budgets and asked for my professional expertise on how I would allocate them if I were her.

I thought I’d share my response with you, as I believe the issue of how much to spend and where to allocate it is something that is an issue for many businesses, particularly in the economic climate we find ourselves.

Ideally in doing this for any given client I would ask what objectives they had in mind, as this is key, but for this scenario I am presuming that the objective is to drive inquiries, leads and sales which is what the majority of businesses I deal with want.

Firstly, no matter what the budget, prior to going out and spending money on anything, I would invest in conducting some online market research to ascertain how many people are searching online for any given keywords and combinations of keywords with any of these. Whilst this may seem a strange suggestion, the results the research can give you can seriously drive your business direction and therefore marketing options. For instance let’s say you sell coffee. And from your searches you deduce that ‘vanilla coffee’ has a high number of searches and low competition. You may then say to yourself, ‘I can source vanilla coffee – that’s easy!’ And there is a business direction you would never have known to pursue, had you not done this initial research. In addition, the research will give you better insights into what spend will be appropriate and where, for instance in locations like Google Adwords or Facebook advertising, which are two very targeted marketing options which you can set defined budgets and get great results.

Using professional software, agencies such as us will tell you specifically what the search volumes are for any given keyword or combination of keywords (that is how many people are searching for it), versus how many competing websites there are. What we are looking for in this research is a high number of searches with a low number of competing sites.

Another thing to bare in mind when reviewing the possible scenarios below, is a lot of my suggestions have a strong focus on online mediums, simply because, across all the clients I work with, they consistently offer the best return on investment, are trackable and generally produce good results, if done right.

Note there is NO MENTION of display ads or Yellow Pages below purposely UNLESS the client can demonstrate a really good return on investment here. To do this, I would recommend tracking your inquiries for a set period, just as you do a log book for tax time (a minimum of a week period, ideally a month – 3 months) so you can see just where the inquiries are coming from. If they ARE coming from the display ads and yellow pages in significant numbers, don’t change a thing. But more often than not, they’re not performing well at all.

Anyway without further adieu, here are four very different budgets, and how, given the chance I would recommend spending your hard earned cash (!)

1. $2500-3500

· Online market research report – $750
· Initial on page search engine optimisation – $100 per page – allocate minimum of 10 pages – $1000
· Relevant online directories (paid) – approx $200 – $300 each. From Yahoo to trade specific ones you could research.
· You could also engage in a range of free marketing activities in addition to this that will just cost your time (article writing, submitting to article directories, brokering back links to the site, social media, emarketing, pr, awards submissions etc)

2. $5000-$7000
· Online market research report – $750
· Initial on page search engine optimisation – $100 per page – allocate minimum of 10 pages – $1000 (or maybe more)
· Relevant online directories (paid) – approx $200 – $300 each. From Yahoo to trade specific ones you could research.
· Google Adwords campaigns – budget for this could only be ascertained once the market research report had been completed. Could be from $200 per month net to google upwards, not factoring in campaign management if we assisted here (this also includes regular reporting on performance). Range – $2400 – $5000
· Facebook advertising – love it cause it’s so targeted. You could run geo-targetted campaigns to areas you know need this – budget for this could only be ascertained once the market research report had been completed. Could be from $5 a day net to facebook upwards, not factoring in campaign management if we assisted here (this also includes regular reporting on performance). Range – $1200 – $2500+
· Meet with us on regular basis (suggest monthly) at $150 per time x 10 months (figuring some months for holidays) = $1500 to analyse what’s working, get ideas, tips, links etc
· Database drops – sourcing relevant databases of target market and getting mentions in their email outs. This may be a free contra arrangement or require payment. Would have to be analysed on case by case basis. But if they had a good relevant database and numbers added up, that would be a good strategy i.e. if they charged $1000 to target 100,000 names, that’s good maths!
· You could also engage in a range of free marketing activities in addition to this that will just cost your time (article writing, submitting to article directories, brokering back links to the site, social media, emarketing, pr, awards submissions etc)

3. $10,000-15,000 (i’m starting to breathe in this bracket – others would be seriously stifling but we do say we work in any budgets!)
· Online market research report – $750
· Initial on page search engine optimisation – $100 per page – allocate minimum of 10 pages – $1000 (or maybe more)
· Relevant online directories (paid) – approx $200 – $300 each. From Yahoo to trade specific ones you could research.
· Google Adwords campaigns – budget for this could only be ascertained once the market research report had been completed. Could be from $200 per month net to google upwards, not factoring in campaign management if we assisted here (this also includes regular reporting on performance). Range – could increase from above
· Facebook advertising – love it cause it’s so targeted. You could run geo-targetted campaigns to areas you know need this – budget for this could only be ascertained once the market research report had been completed. Could be from $5 a day net to facebook upwards, not factoring in campaign management if we assisted here (this also includes regular reporting on performance). Range – $1200 – $2500+
· Database drops – sourcing relevant databases of target market and getting mentions in their email outs. This may be a free contra arrangement or require payment. Would have to be analysed on case by case basis. But if they had a good relevant database and numbers added up, that would be a good strategy i.e. if they charged $1000 to target 100,000 names, that’s good maths!
· Online advertising – there may be some money to play with for this in this bracket too.
· Meet with us on regular basis (suggest monthly) at $150 per time x 10 months (figuring some months for holidays) = $1500 to analyse what’s working, get ideas, tips, links etc
· You may have some left over to continue with relevant trade events IF (and big IF) you can demonstrate that these work well for you historically
· You could also engage in a range of free marketing activities in addition to this that will just cost your time (article writing, submitting to article directories, brokering back links to the site, social media, emarketing, pr, awards submissions etc)

4. $50k

All of the above but more budget allocation, more assistance from consultants i.e. us to make this work (i.e. we might help out on operational aspects rather than just consultancy so the stuff ACTUALLY GETS DONE. As you know it’s one thing to intend to do it, and another to actually do it, and do it effectively.

Yvette Adams is the director of The Creative Collective https://thecreativecollective.com.au, an award winning creative services agency based in Queensland, Australia offering the full range of creative services including PR, awards applications, websites, internet marketing, seo, graphic design, print production, photography and more. They won the 2008 Queensland Small Business Champions Specialised Small Business award and Yvette won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year and has been a finalist in numerous other local, state, national and international business awards.

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