When did you last evaluate your company’s comprehensive marketing spend? I’m talking about truly examining results and considering what new strategies might produce a more positive return on your investment. As a marketing strategy agency that specifically services B2B industrial companies, we’re all too familiar with the old school marketing spend: trade shows, print ads, direct mail and more trade shows. If you’re thinking about making a change and could use a little help planning your approach, the following steps and sample marketing plan budget will help you get started.
Audit your current marketing spend
Examine where you currently spend your marketing dollars. Are you attending trade shows, sponsoring golf tournaments, running print ads, mailing out flyers? What’s the spend within each individual channel? What’s the total spend?
Evaluate your success-tracking methods
Are you tracking results? If so, how? If not, why? Sometimes traditional marketing activities prove difficult to measure. Regardless, look at any existing measurement systems you have in place. What metrics determine success or failure? These may include:
- Website traffic volume
- New leads generated
- Calls to a 1-800 number
- Email inquires
- Form submissions on your website’s contact page
If you haven’t implemented such metrics, now is a great time to get started.
Evaluate results for each initiative
Which specific marketing initiatives produce the best results? How much does a new lead cost to acquire via any given marketing activity? In other words, if you spend $20,000/year on trade shows that produce 50 leads/year, then a lead from trade shows costs you $400 to acquire. Crunch the numbers to the best of your ability.
Explore alternative, more cost-effective marketing solutions
We’re partial to online marketing. Why? We firmly believe that online media are much more relevant than traditional media in today’s business development environment. Some supporting stats compiled by marketing software company Hubspot follow:
- 61% of global Internet users research products online.
- 46% of people read blogs more than once a day.
- By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship without talking to a human.
Consider the following as well:
For the cost of sending three people to three trade shows or the cost of running a full page ad in a local business journal once a month for a year, you could hire an agency with a team of experts to develop and execute a full online marketing strategy including:
- Search engine optimization
- Social media marketing
- Website lead generation
- Business blogging
- Email marketing
- Marketing automation
So how do you break down a revised marketing plan budget?
Every company is different. And change can be tough to implement (click here for article on how to convince your boss it’s time for a marketing overhaul). The example budget below outlines what we’ve found successful for some of our B2B clients – particularly those in industrial spaces like construction, painting and manufacturing.
We’re going to assume a $100,000 annual marketing budget as a benchmark. But wait! Don’t run away yet. I realize this may be high (or perhaps low) depending on the makeup and size of your company. I’ve included percentages so you can scale the budget up and down accordingly
Inbound marketing (66% | $5500/month = $66,000)
Inbound marketing is about attracting qualified prospects to your website, educating them and becoming a resource for them. It’s about converting these website visitors into leads and nurturing them through email and marketing automation until they become paying customers. This marketing approach is designed to move a prospect through his buying process from being unfamiliar with your company to discovering you to becoming an engaged lead to becoming a customer. The process includes many elements working together as a lead development machine – search engine optimization, social media, content marketing (website, blog, white papers, case studies), email and marketing automation.
The absolutely necessary first step in implementing an online/inbound marketing initiative is to lay the foundation for success with a strategic plan. And if the plan itself is all you can afford to do this year, so be it. Budget $10,000, execute the strategic plan alone and look to next year to initiate a full blown inbound marketing initiative.
If you have the internal capacity and personnel to implement an inbound marketing initiative, by all means go for it and redistribute the funds allocated here. If not, hire an inbound marketing agency with this specialty. Whatever you do, be sure your marketing plan is GOAL-driven and not TACTIC-driven. In other words, don’t try email marketing just because it would be something new. And don’t jump into an expensive website rebuild just because yours looks dated.
Instead, nail down your company’s pain points and build a plan that uses a variety of marketing channels to solve those problems. An awareness problem can addressed by generating more qualified visitors in the search engines. A lead generation problem can be addressed by trading valuable resources like white papers and buyers guides for prospective customers’ contact information. A customer acquisition or long sales cycle problem can be addressed with a targeted email marketing campaign and marketing automation strategy.
If you chose to work with an agency, find one that demonstrates how they’ll scale deliverables up and down based both on your budget and the results you’re hoping to achieve. A $3K/month spend (vs. a $8K/month spend) shouldn’t mean services are simply chopped because you can’t afford them. A smart marketing agency will take your budget and develop a cohesive, GOAL-driven plan comprised of the right mix of services that will address your most pressing business challenges.
Marketing software (12% | $1000/month = $12,000)
An inbound marketing approach like that described above will reach its full potential when complemented by marketing automation software like Hubspot. This kind of software pulls lead intelligence into a database through website form submissions, tracks visitor behavior on your site, segments and scores leads based on their engagement and demographics, and allows you to market to each in a personalized, highly targeted manner. This kind of software isn’t cheap, but it significantly amplifies every marketing activity you implement.
Traditional trade journal advertising (10% | $10,000)
We won’t knock traditional media entirely because we do believe it has its place in the mix. After all, trade journals target very specific and relevant audiences. And these ad buys help build relationships with the industry professionals that run them. But printed ads have a limited shelf life. When next month’s publication arrives in the mail, last month’s ads go away.
If you proceed, think about how to generate a return and make these investments more measurable. Instead of a branded message about how great your company is, use the ad space to promote an expert guide or white paper that your company has written as part of your newfangled online marketing plan. By offering something of value to your audience and prompting them to go online to download it, you set yourself up for a lead generation opportunity among targeted prospects. This approach initiates action rather than relying on ad impressions and hoping someone calls you. To go a step further, put a unique URL (website address) on the ad, so you know that everyone who visits your site by going to youcompany.com/guide is a visitor that found you via that specific ad placement.
Trade show materials, other printed collateral (12% | $12,000)
At this point, I’ll make my argument that trade show attendance is a sales expense and should be taken from the sales budget rather than the marketing budget. Marketing exists to support sales and business development, and the initiatives like those previously described are integral to filling the sales team’s pipeline with qualified leads. It’s very hard for me to justify compromising a year’s worth of inbound marketing efforts for a few days worth of trade shows.
If trade show attendance absolutely must come out of your marketing budget, I recommend scaling back your investment in this channel for a year. See what happens. After all, if you’re reading this article, you’re considering change, and trade shows are typically one of the most budget-draining business development spends a B2B company makes.
How about this for a compromise? Use a portion of your marketing budget to develop the supporting materials your sales team will need at those trade shows – booth design, printed collateral, etc. Shift the travel, floor space, meals and entertainment budgets to sales.
No magic formula exists to drive your company’s marketing success. But as the exchange of information shifts online, so do your customers, and for most B2B companies, so should your marketing spend.
Gorilla 76 specializes in helping B2B industrial companies generate website traffic, qualified business leads and paying customers using their websites and other online media. If you’re looking for some guidance getting started, our Marketing Roadmap consultation may be a good fit.