February 11, 2021
5 min read
Sound crazy? It happens all the time. In my role as a Fractional CMO, I often am in the position of replacing a predecessor who was recently let go, so I have witnessed this phenomenon many times. And, I agree with it.
Why would I support a company letting someone go for saving money? Quite simply, that isn’t a marketer’s job. A marketer’s job is to drive revenue, build the brand, and enable greater pricing power, and that’s what they get judged on. Marketers should leave the job of saving money to the accountants.
In order to do your job as a marketer, you have to create content, buy ads, promote offerings, and present them in a favorable light. You have to enable your salesforce with powerful tools that will help them win more deals. You have to position the company’s management team as thought leaders and you have to put your message in front of the people who will buy your offerings. All of these things cost money. This means marketers have to ask for a budget, and then spend that budget.
These three simple words are so important, and I see so many marketers in mid-size companies that don’t ask their management team that one simple question. Many times the management team isn’t sure, and this is where a seasoned marketing pro can suggest a reasonable budget based on the goals the company is trying to achieve. See our article on marketing budgets for more. Once that magic number is known, you can spend it with confidence. Whether it is a big or small amount, a budget gives marketers a frame of reference. For example, if you have a $100,000 budget and the sales manager wants the company to attend a conference that has never driven one lead in the past, and it’s going to drain 80% of your budget for the year, it is obvious that you would say, “Heck no. I don’t want to waste my money on that,” and suggest a smarter way to spend that money.
Now, this is not to say that I don’t try to save my clients from wasting their money. I tell them not to spend money on things all the time: impulse advertising buys, useless trade shows, sketchy mailing lists, fake awards shows, cheap promotional items, that lead generation expert that hits them up on LinkedIn every day, among other drains on the budget. Things that waste money and cheapen a company’s brand and don’t drive ROI have no room in any marketing budget. I spend a client’s budget like I would spend my own money, and I’m admittedly a cheapskate. Many of you that know me personally are probably nodding your head and smiling right now. While I may be cheap, I do invest in things that are going to help me grow my business. So, when working for a client, I suggest spending money on tactics that will help them reach their marketing goals and not anything else.
Organic social media, free stock photography and video, and email marketing are great ways to spread your marketing budget. I use them myself. (I told you I’m a cheapskate.) But these aren’t the things that are going to elevate your brand and generate new customers.
√ Pick your spots and pay for quality creative on the things that really matter.
√ Pay to have a good writer redo your website copy.
√ Assign a reputable agency to build an advertising campaign.
√ Hire a professional photographer to take photos of your people and products.
√ Shoot a professional brand video.
√ Work with an animation house to produce a remarkable animation that really captures the value of your offerings.
What I’m saying is focus on a few key things that will help your company reach its marketing goals. Look at your marketing budget as an investment, not an expense.
Maybe it’s not something you have done before...a tactic you aren’t familiar with...a channel you don’t know very well. So what? Don’t say no right away. Explore it; judge whether or not it will serve you well. Are your prospects going to see it? What are the chances you would see a return on investment?
1. Will this help us achieve our marketing goals this year?
Do you have brand awareness goals, are you purely revenue-driven, do you have targets around selling specific products and goals for customer retention? If so, might spending money on the tactic help you move toward those goals? If yes, and if you have room in the budget, go for it. If not, say no.
2. What’s the real cost?
When considering the cost, think about it in terms of length of time in service. Is this an animation that will have a five-year shelf life? Or, is it a one-time ad that will be in a garbage can tomorrow? We have a client that is using a brand video shot 10 years ago, and it is still on target and resonates with their prospects today. Yes, they paid a lot for it when they shot it, but divide that number by 10, and it seems pretty reasonable in hindsight.
3. What will we lose if we don’t do this?
If we don’t run this digital campaign, how will it affect our brand visibility with this key market? If we don’t buy this squeezy ball with our logo on it, how will that affect our sales?
Saying no to new things is way easier than saying yes, at least for us cheapskates. The danger of saying no to new tactics is that you wind up in the same place year after year: not growing your audience, not building your brand, and generating anemic sales leads.
Remember: Lack of growth is what gets a marketing person fired.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t say this: Anything that doesn’t resonate with your target audience is a waste. You can spend a lot of money or a little bit, but either way, if it isn’t appealing to your target audience, it won’t work. Understand your audience, and speak directly to them in a way your competitors will have a hard time replicating. Yep, I’m talking about basic positioning and messaging. If you don’t have a handle on that, save your money because no matter how slick your website, ad, video, or webinar is, it won’t drive revenue.
As a marketer, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for resources, but you should be prepared to make a business case for those resources. Once you have them, invest in things that will make a measurable difference in reaching the company’s growth objectives. Say no to stupid things, but spend every penny in the marketing budget because if you aren’t helping the company grow, you aren’t adding value, and not adding value could put you in the unemployment line.
Positioning outlines why your product is unique in comparison to market alternatives, and messaging describes to your target segments what you’ll do to deliver on the promises made in your positioning statement. It is a powerful one-two punch, and you need to be able to communicate yours before you start spending money on tactics.
Properly understood, the job of a marketing department is to drive revenue for the company. Some marketers do so by building and maintaining a brand, others focus on generating new leads, and others still focus on enabling sales to close more quickly and consistently. A good company with a mature marketing department does all of these things, even if they focus on some areas more than others. But there’s one area of revenue generation where the marketing department is often relegated to a passive participant or even outright excluded: pricing.
Companies everywhere are looking to cut overhead and other costs to keep up with a changing market and an economic recession. That usually means that marketing budgets are the next to go. Much like during the pandemic, businesses will have to pivot and discover new marketing solutions to combat the economic recession, inflation, and other market changes.
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