By Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded
You know the need to build for long-term brand position, winning the hearts and minds of your core audience. You know this takes a consistent marketing effort, spread over a range of tactics; traditional and non-traditional, above and below the line, mass and micro targeting. But in today’s environment, how do you do it smartly and with sufficient ROI?
Immediate ROI from marketing expenditures is needed to survive the day-to-day of business competition. This becomes more critical if you are the David in the Goliath equation. You have to have every dollar work as hard as possible because you can’t outspend your competitors.
Since marginal returns take you longer to recover from, you carefully analyze and scrutinize every tactic, which can lead to marketing paralysis. In the end, you wind up doing nothing at all—exactly what keeps your competitors top of mind. In the end you know that long-term marketing investing is what keeps companies dominant in their market space, but you have limited resources to meet short-term goals in order to stay in business.
What’s a marketer to do? To establish a brand that truly attracts the kind of customers you want takes time, resources, and consistency. Things you may not have a lot of. It’s a balancing act, but an extremely critical one you must perform. CMOs are consumed by this and small business owners live and die by this. Here are a few concepts to consider:
Rule Number One: Marketing is the life’s blood of any business.
If you’re selling something, you’re a marketer. Marketing, whatever the form, should be the core of your yearly business plan. If you cut your marketing budget, you should cut your expectations. This is business physics. Yes, you can gain efficiencies, but there are limits as in any applied physics.
Not only can you gain when you increase your marketing spend, but you can also loose out if you don’t invest in your marketing. If you’re expecting customers to find you organically, some will, slowly, but maybe not enough, quick enough, to meet your year-end goals if you want to grow aggressively.
You can count on word-of-mouth, but behind the scenes is a well orchestrated program that is heavily funded. A recent published research finding revealed marketers spent more than $1 billion on word-of-mouth efforts in 2006.
Marketing is your voice. It’s the one thing you can control in the game of perception. If done well, you can create loyalty and financial success at the same time.
Rule Number Two: Big-picture strategies should guide short-term tactics.
If you don’t know where you want to go, you won’t know how to get there. Your big-picture goals should dictate what tactics are and are not appropriate. It helps give guidance on determining your true audience and what they want to hear. Let’s face it; if you’re everything to everyone, then you’re really not special. Determining your business profile should be your guiding light for your day-to-day marketing and business decisions.
Rule Number Three: Think of expenses as investments.
Know the difference. Everyone has an opinion on where to put marketing expenditures on the balance sheet. It’s a matter of how you expect to grow your business. As most responsible managers and owners do, they cut expenses to help the company save money. But when something helps you make money, then it’s an investment.
It’s a powerful tool to help you grow and make more money. Marketing is one of those investments that can be used to leverage your brand, honestly connect with your audience, and as a result, make you more money.
I came across a small company who was focusing on the wrong part of the equation. A proposal on the table was to spend $40,000 in marketing to potentially make $1 million in a year. They ended up turning it down because they focused on the $40,000. They saw that number as an expense and thought it was too high. Economics tells you that the ROI was very good. It’s an investment because it helps you make money.
Balancing long-term brand health and immediate financial gains is a high-wire act at best. But by allowing vision, focusing on investment strategies and knowing the difference between expenses and investment, and a bit of “guts,” a company can achieve short-term gains and improve long-term brand equity at the same time.
Tony is president of BE Branded, an integrated marketing and design firm that helps clients Be Somebody to their customers. BE Branded’s research shows that if businesses don’t connect with their audience in a real, emotional way, they risk becoming a commodity. Call us if you would like to talk about whether you would like to Be Somebody or be a commodity.
www.BeBranded.net | 317-797-7226