Are you thinking about cutting your marketing budget this year? This is a big mistake!
Yes, 2020 has been rough on everyone, but now is not the time to make it worse. As business owners, many of us are struggling to reinvent ourselves and adjust to this “new normal.” In the process, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s truly important. While you may be looking for ways to cut costs wherever you can, don’t make the mistake of slashing your marketing budget too far. All signs point to marketing playing a critically important role for both businesses and brands in the coming year.
As you start making your 2021 business plans, stop to think about what marketing really does for your business. It’s not just about creating a great Instagram campaign or getting more people to sign up for your email newsletter. Instead, it’s about creating solid relationships with your customers and sharing the promise of your brand. It’s about showing people why they need your product or service and how it will make their lives better.
You might be thinking “I can’t afford to do any marketing this year!” — but the truth is, you can’t afford not to. Here are four important reasons why.
1. You’ll Miss Out on a Huge Opportunity
Ignoring your marketing strategy — even for a few months — can have a major impact on your business. More people are online now than ever before. If you’re not there with them, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Consider these statistics:
- 1.66 billion people shop online each year
- 43% of eCommerce traffic comes from organic Google searches
- 51% of shoppers use Google to research a product before making a purchase
- 55% of buyers do research via social media
- 77% of business-to-business purchasers won’t speak to a salesperson until they’ve done their own research
- Close to 70% of online customers read product reviews before making a purchase
In total, 97% of consumers use some sort of online media to research products or services in their local area. Your customers have embraced the internet as a space to find important information, connect with businesses, and purchase the things they want and need. Boosting your online presence is the best way to take advantage of this opportunity.
2. Your Rankings Will Slide
If you’ve got a website and you’ve updated it in the past few years, you’re already well ahead of some business owners. However, that’s not enough. A beautifully designed site still won’t do you any good if nobody ever visits it.
Try this experiment: Log onto Google in “Incognito” mode and search for [Your City] [Your Product or Service] – for example, “Bradenton Plumber.” Where does your website rank? If you’re not in one of the first three spots, you’re falling behind your competitors!
In fact, studies show that 70% of search traffic goes to the top three listings on a search results page. Even more importantly, 90% of traffic goes to the number one spot. If you’re not at least on the first page, there’s very little chance you’re going to get any organic traffic to your site.
Even if you are in one of those coveted top three spots, there’s no guarantee you’ll stay there. If you don’t keep up with your marketing efforts, your rankings will quickly start to slide.
3. Inbound Marketing Offers an Excellent ROI
Instead of focusing on how much money you’re “spending” on marketing, think of it in terms of how much you stand to gain in the form of a return on your investment. If someone comes across your business through an online search, it’s likely that they’re actively looking for a solution to a problem you can solve.
When they reach your site, they’re choosing to look at the information you’re presenting, rather than being interrupted by a marketing message you’re forcing in front of them. This is called “inbound marketing” and it’s one of the best investments you can take. Some examples of inbound marketing include search engine optimization, content marketing, blogging, and using social media to improve brand awareness and generate leads.
4. Marketing Drives Long-Term Revenue
The ultimate goal of marketing is to build a strong relationship between your brand and your consumers. Just like in real life, developing a relationship is a long-term process. It requires you to keep your company top-of-mind by building a positive reputation and cultivating a series of touchpoints over time.
Doing this improves the chances that you’ll be the first business a consumer thinks of when they’re ready to purchase a product or service you offer. The problem is, when money is tight, it becomes more difficult to think in the long-term. Since most marketing strategies don’t pay you back immediately, you’ll be tempted to cut them out of your budget. However, this is a mistake!
There’s a (very true) adage that says: “If sales are your problem today, marketing was your problem 12-months ago.” Making cuts to your marketing budget now will cause an even bigger revenue problem six to 12 months down the line. When you think about your marketing budget, try framing it as “the cost of generating revenue.” Then see if it still feels like the right place to make cuts.
Don’t Cut, Readjust
If you absolutely must scale back your marketing budget, don’t completely slash it. Instead, take a close look at what you’re currently doing and try to find ways to make it more efficient. If you’re not getting the results you’re looking for, you might be marketing to the wrong people or doing it in the wrong way. In this case, it makes sense to do some research so you can figure out how to get the most out of your marketing dollars.
You may find that you need to look at a new target audience, focus on a new social media channel, or revise your email marketing strategy. While doing the evaluation and research might take some time, it will be well worth it in the long run. If you don’t have the time or expertise, you may want to consider hiring a professional to help you. Although this will add some additional up-front cost, a marketing pro can help you optimize your remaining marketing dollars. Business owners who take this approach often find that they net far better results with almost the same marketing budget.
Over the next year or two, make sure you reassess your finances at least every few months. Whenever possible, take some of the revenue you’ve earned and allocate it towards fully reinvesting into your marketing strategy. If you start to worry about how much you’re spending on marketing, remember that the expense is an investment in the current and future success of your business.
Discover Bradenton Marketing offers cost-effective marketing solutions for local businesses.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you grow!