Owners of any business, no matter how large or how small, can benefit from crafting a marketing budget to guide their company’s marketing efforts. But once you’ve allocated a budget for your marketing, the next step is actually spending those funds in ways that can benefit the business.
There is a multitude of different ways to spend a marketing budget, and it can be overwhelming to sort through them all. Your specific business’s marketing path may depend on a variety of factors, such as:
- How old is the business and what stage is it in? Is the business growing rapidly or staying steady?
- Does the business already have a large customer base, or is customer acquisition a key goal?
- Are your marketing goals more long-term or short-term?
Once you’ve identified the core goals and functions of your marketing budget, you can begin spending it in a way that reflects those objectives. This article will outline just a few of the different ways you could spend your marketing budget.
1. Paid Media
Ideal for companies who are looking to grow rapidly or are focused more on short-term goals, paid media refers to things like:
- Paid social media ads
- Display ads
- Pay-per-click campaigns
To get even more granular beyond these categories of paid media, consider some specific examples of ways these strategies could be used. Let’s say your business needs more leads, so you want to find a way to get the email addresses of potential customers. You could use a paid social media ad campaign to offer a free ebook for anyone who provides their email.
Or, you could use display ads or pay-per-click campaigns to take people straight to your company’s website and include an email offer there. As you’ll soon see, the key to a successful marketing strategy isn’t to focus on just one area alone but to use several different strategies working synergistically across multiple areas to deliver the results you want.
2. Earned Media and SEO
By contrast, earned media is a longer-term game than paid media. Earned media refers to more organic marketing like:
These are actions where people are organically spreading your marketing message to their friends or followers. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a great tool for maximizing earned media. Proper SEO efforts, such as using highly searched and relevant keywords in your blog articles, can help improve your company’s ranking on sites like Google.
This, in turn, can lead to more eyes on your business, which leads to more shares, mentions, reposts, etc. These earned media milestones are generally harder to come by since it’s not as simple as paying for a PPC campaign and watching the clicks roll in. And unlike paid media, the results might not be so obvious or immediate.
Unless something you’ve created gets lucky and goes viral, generating a ton of shares and views organically, earned media is not likely to generate immediate revenue or substantial return on the investment. For this reason, aiming for earned media might be a strategy best used by businesses with longer-term goals. However, for startups looking to win now and achieve rapid growth, focusing on earned media might not be the best use of your budget, since it can take a while for these efforts to see tangible results.
3. Revamping Owned Media
Owned media is one of the most cost-effective ways to spend a marketing budget, and that’s because owned media is more of an internal investment. Owned media is any property that a business controls itself, such as a company website, blog, email newsletters, and social media channels. For businesses running on a smaller budget, attacking owned media can be a great place to start. If you have a team of designers and copywriters, revamping your owned media might only require a time cost. Plus, it can have fairly immediate results.
Sometimes simply changing the layout of your company’s website, testing a new funnel strategy, or starting an email newsletter can create new revenue streams for your business. One smart move is to constantly be testing new ideas against the “winning” old ones. You never know for sure if something will work until you test it, and even the best ideas can often be beaten by new concepts. So be sure to devote a chunk of your marketing budget to tweaking and testing your existing properties.
4. Email Generation Campaigns
As briefly mentioned earlier, email generation campaigns are a great way to provide leads to your business. There are many different ways to go about collecting emails. One is to use a paid campaign to find new users, but gathering emails can be as simple as including a form at the top of your company website. The key, of course, is to offer consumers something of value in exchange for their email.
Maybe it’s an ebook or a weekly newsletter with helpful information that they are interested in. Whatever you use to entice your audience, gathering emails is a great resource that can be used for many different marketing purposes down the line. Once you have a robust list of emails, using those emails is practically cost-free. You could
- Send a survey to your email list, to see what types of products or services respondents are interested in
- Send a sale offer to try and generate revenue directly off the email list
- Or even “rent” the list to other companies and earn revenue as an affiliate
There is practically no limit to what you can do with a strong email list, so collecting these leads is a valuable way to spend any marketing budget.
5. Radio and Television
Don’t overlook traditional media sources like television and radio. Like anything else on this list, it depends on what your business’s current goals are, but radio and television ads can reap benefits if executed properly. It may not be as easy to track or as fast-rewarding as paid digital media, but radio and television can help your brand’s reputation. Consumers are more likely to trust a brand they’re familiar with through radio and television.
Although some may view these outlets as outdated, they are still viewed by many as more prestigious. Brands that appear on the radio or TV may appeal to consumers because they often view such brands as being more legitimate than online-only companies. Radio and television can be pricey, however, so if your business is on a tight marketing budget, it might not be the most efficient use of funds.
Clearly, there are a number of ways that a marketing budget could be spent. The truth is that the smartest budget strategy depends on the specifics of your business. Big companies with established brands will obviously use their marketing budgets in completely different ways from a small startup looking to make waves. By taking into account your goals, your obstacles, and the capital you have available, you can use these strategies to create a smart marketing plan for your business.