Well, it’s that time of year again. Right alongside pumpkin spice, flannel scarves, Halloween, beers, puffy vests, and apple picking, is everyone’s favorite Q4 activity: budgeting.

Whether you run a retail shop, fashion blog, interior design business, or an entire marketing department, setting the marketing budget for the upcoming year is a pretty unavoidable to do item. In fact, “On average, marketing budgets made up 11.1% of total company budgets in 2018, with some variation depending on the industry and who they’re marketing to. Not surprisingly, those companies in the B2C product space allocate the largest portion of their total budget to marketing, averaging 16%. B2C services increased their marketing budget share substantially as well in 2018, moving from 9.3% of firm budget to 14.9%”, according to this resource. So really the question isn’t if you should plan to spend money on marketing, but how much of your budget should be allocated to it and which channels show the greatest return.

Use your marketing dollars wisely. There are a few key tactics that continue to see the best ROI, including email and social media. Paired alongside organic search and content marketing, you can bet that investing in good execution in these areas will pay off.

You may be thinking, yes, but as a small business owner, I just don’t have the time, or resources, to be able to actually pull off that kind of robust marketing program. I can’t afford to hire a marketing associate. I’m not sure what I even need, or how to make my ideas come to life. These are all common concerns that can be addressed with some simple strategies and planning.

What does all of this have to do with budgeting? Keep reading – we’re getting there!

Marketing: Expense or Investment?

There really are two different types of costs associated with marketing. A Marketing expense (which should be forecasted in your budget) is any spend of marketing dollars whose value is seen at the point of spend. For example, buying advertisements, attending events or trade shows, anything where the core value of the expense is realized when the item is spent. Although there is some residual value from things like brand awareness at events, the value of what was paid for is really the ability to actually attend the event.

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A Marketing Investment, on the other hand, is an expenditure of marketing dollars that provides a residual return. It’s a cost that continues to drive value and have a positive impact on sales, long after the cost is paid.

Allocating some of your marketing expenses as investments allows you to increase your recurring budget in other ways.

In order to win business in the future, you’ll need to invest today. Invest in ideas, innovation and the expertise of professionals that can in turn invest their own ideas that you haven’t even dreamt of yet. Hiring the people that can put together all of the pieces above in ways that create new solutions to ongoing challenges. This frees up dollars in your budget for other expenses like the ones mentioned above.

What’s the best way to invest in marketing?

Partnering with the right team of marketing professionals should be at the top of your list. By outsourcing your marketing to this team, you will be investing in people without worrying about adding headcount, payroll taxes, and everything else that comes along with hiring an employee. Not to mention a fresh perspective on meeting your objectives but also varied sets of talent and resources that one person may or may not bring to the table. Yes, it’s a recurring cost, but the overall investment costs much less than the commitment, training, and continued costs of hiring one employee, not to mention an entire marketing team.

The case against DIY-ing

If you’re thinking to yourself – but there are so many great tools available – why can’t I just do it myself? Here’s why: While there are most certainly some great DIY options like website builders, online design software, and email marketing tools, and you are likely very capable of using these tools, what’s more important is having a strategy in place before using these tools to execute. Not to mention, success in marketing comes from the sum of its parts, not just a piecemeal campaign here or there. We’re here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be stressful or overwhelming. The bottom line is, if you’d like to increase traffic, generate more qualified leads, and ultimately drive more sales, you’ll need to invest in the right marketing and creative partner who can help you put together a strategy and execute on it.

Creating a budget isn’t easy, but finding the right partner to outsource your marketing and design initiatives can make all the difference in the world. Without adding headcount, you can stick to your budget by accomplishing your marketing goals in a smart way: by outsourcing marketing strategy and execution to a professional. Once you see how much easier it is, you’ll never look back.

Stop wasting your precious time doing stuff you aren’t good at.

Get in touch so we can figure out how to get you back to working on things you love, while we take are of your creative initiatives.