Maximizing your marketing budget is all about making the key decisions and making them at the right time. Creating a marketing budget can be challenging, and some top execs will simply delegate the task to others. But our experience shows that the executive team of a well-balanced company will create a budget that is in line with the current company needs and resources, their goals for growth, and ensure that the entire team fully understands what they are committing to for the coming year.
We’ve seen plenty of ways companies can waste marketing dollars. Here are five things that experience has taught us companies should always consider carefully and get right from the start.
Brand identity is more than window dressing
No matter your company size or reputation, brand identity is the foundation of your business and should be included in all of your marketing plans, budgets, and campaigns. This goes beyond your marketing efforts and ties directly into your company culture. A perfect example of what not to do is Uber, where a dysfunctional company culture has greatly diminished the brand and ultimately their bottom line.
We advocate “leaving no stone unturned” when it comes to expanding brand awareness and company reputation. A recent rebrand of a well-funded Silicon Valley company is another example of what not to do. Our research revealed negative company reviews from current and former employees, which showed up on the first page of search results. Though the company had spent millions on their rebrand, they chose not to take our advice to work on the company culture and reputation. This contributed to preventing them from reaching their growth goals, and they lost money and many talented employees as a result.
Know your customers
This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how often companies get it wrong, and do not direct adequate thought or resources to this area. Several RolloutSF co-founders were involved with the rebranding of the cybersecurity subsidiary of a Fortune 500 company. Much of the rebranding went well, but a high-level executive decided that the website needed a video. Without consulting the marketing team, they spent nearly six figures on an elaborate video about a group of kids building and defending a treehouse. Unfortunately, a grade school level analogy explaining cybersecurity was not the best way to sell an expensive product to large corporations and government agencies, and the video backfired dramatically. That ill-conceived video was one of several decisions that led to the demise of the company.
A company-centric viewpoint is a common pitfall for many startups as well, who make decisions without hiring experienced professionals to guide them. Customer interviews, talking with industry analysts, and detailed competitive research helps companies to see things from the perspectives of prospects and customers. If the time and energy are not put into understanding your customers and how to build their loyalty, you’ll usually regret it later.
Set realistic goals for company growth
Companies often set unrealistic goals. A company that has been growing at 5% per quarter cannot expect to grow at 30% per quarter without the right leadership, teams, and resources. The stress and pressure put on the leaders of a company when goals are unrealistic will create unneeded tension and force poor decisions that will come back to haunt them later.
Hitting goals makes a huge difference for a team or individual. By engaging in a budgetary process where all decision makers are given the opportunity to define what is “realistic” for their teams, a company has a better chance of reaching or surpassing their goals. This can also hold true for third-party vendors and contractors, where better relationships and results happen when budget and resources are discussed regularly. It is always good to reach beyond what is possible, but not to the point of setting up people for failure.
Test key messages and campaigns before ramping up
Another key aspect to getting a return on your marketing investment is to test your assumptions, messages, and creative designs. Testing and analysis is part of the art and science of marketing: if these are ignored, money will be wasted. By rolling out a campaign to a select group of prospects or customers first, then observing the results and making adjustments, the marketing team can optimize the messaging and content before an entire campaign is rolled out.
Our experience has shown us that not spending enough time A/B testing messages and content on websites, landing pages, and email campaigns can lead to disappointing results. There are a number of great tools that can help to analyze websites and email campaigns. This includes advanced use of Google Analytics and online services which record and analyze website visitor behavior. That will prevent wasted efforts such as adding content to pages that are already so long that few people read the entire page.
Get your ducks in a row
Many companies try to do too much at once, do not have things scheduled well, and thus do not achieve the results they hoped for. This is why it matters when you unveil a product or service, how it will be unveiled, and what is done after your campaign begins.
Companies often want to unveil a new brand at a major industry conference, and will spend tens of thousands of dollars to do so. That’s understandable, but it can go wrong in several ways. Without a new product to unveil at the same time, a rebranding can seem underwhelming. If there’s a new product but it has been delayed, customers can feel frustrated. Even worse, a show might generate leads, however if the company’s internal systems are not ready to process those leads, those leads will be wasted. In recent years, we’ve seen this error happen to two well-funded startups that wasted millions through lack of coordination.
To maximize ROI, launches need to be well-coordinated: engineering, sales, PR, social media, email, and events. This takes a commitment to collaboration, and each company leader needs to empower their co-workers and teams to build relationships within the company so that collaboration becomes a daily habit.
RolloutSF can help with all of these, and more
Of course, these are just a few of many factors. Our vast experience enables us to assist our clients in determining budgets and ensuring the best ROI. Drop us a line and let’s talk.