“I love money. I love everything about it. I bought some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks. Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater. And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too.”
Ok, far be it from us to tell you how to spend your money -- like, what dog wouldn’t benefit from a good polishing? But when it comes to putting together your yearly budget, here are a few pitfalls to avoid to help spend your marketing dollars wisely.
1. UNDERUTILIZING DATA
You may not own a time-traveling Delorean, but a key way to develop a successful budget is to go Back to the Future by looking at what worked really well in the past -- and, perhaps more importantly, what didn’t work -- and applying this knowledge to the year ahead. Given the complexities of today’s marketing plans, how do you tell the difference? Three words: data, data, data. This is why Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are our friends.
There are oodles of business metrics to choose from, so be sure you’re choosing KPIs that have a significant relevance to your business -- you’d be surprised how many companies stress over KPIs that have little or no impact on the bottom line.
You should also give weight to conversion goals, conversion rates and engagement, which is always a delicate balancing act. While mass impressions are floodgates for your traffic, they are usually short-term solutions, which is why having a strong engagement strategy helps for the long haul.
If you simply do not have enough solid information to make good decisions, then this is the perfect time to develop an analytics plan for next year.
2. NOT RE-EVALUATING YOUR TECH STACK
Now is a good time to take inventory of your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERS) systems. While many view these systems as two sides of the same profitability coin, their core functionalities are very different. In essence, CRM is customer-focused whereas ERS is business-focused.
Traditionally used as tools for sales and marketing departments to increase profits by producing greater sales volume, CRM platforms are seeing increased value to customer service teams to more seamlessly manage customer requests from multiple channels. On the flip side of our coin, ERP streamlines complex business processes.
Analytics software, demand side platforms and email service providers are also worthy of serious consideration. What’s important is that, like a successful sports team, all of the players work together -- it’s a lot easier to get the ball across the line when each player knows what the others are doing.
CRMs, ERPs, digital ad servers -- all are vital to marketing success, so stack the tech in your favor with platform solutions that fit your exact business needs and budget. This will not only make your team’s life easier, but could likely be a game changer in your 2019 marketing. If you’re looking for inspiration, here’s a great place to start: The Stackies.
3. JUMPING ON THE TREND TRAIN
With digital in such a constant state of flux, it’s tempting to chase after the hottest new trend -- but riding blind could find you in the middle of a proverbial train wreck. Savvy marketers stay on top of the latest advertising trends but never lose sight of the business basics that have proven to convert highly for their business.
So, while that hip new Augmented Reality app looks really cool, it may not be the best investment, especially if you have a small budget and need every dollar to work extremely hard. Same goes for trendy platforms (SnapChat -- cough, cough) that may seem cool at the time but may not align with your audience in any significant way. Sometimes the plain reality of a traditional “paid search” program will perform better for your business than any fancy app could ever dream of.
4. PLANNING IN A SILO
Although it is usually said in a playful manner, the expression “great minds think alike” certainly has merit -- but sometimes the best ideas come from the most unexpected places. To ensure you fully understand company goals outside of those belonging to your marketing or sales department, create multiple strategy sessions and tap into minds that do not think alike by inviting representatives from various company departments. A more diverse think tank makes for a more innovative budget plan.
So, let’s recap: data, tech, trends and inclusive planning. Avoid the pitfalls outlined for each, and you’ll be on your way to happier and healthier budget planning...and when you’re done planning, you can use your profits to buy fun stuff for yourself, like a solar-powered turtleneck sweater.