The new year not only brings resolutions on a personal level, but for local businesses it can mean a fresh start, new initiatives and a brand spanking new budget. One essential part of that budget is the marketing portion. Is it time for you to bump up your marketing expenditure for 2016 or should you be looking at areas to trim your spend? Set your business up for success before the New Year begins with our six tips for your 2016 marketing budget.
Six Tips To Help Set Your Marketing Budget
› Evaluate last years’ budget
What did your marketing budget look like for 2015? If you can’t answer this question, it’s important that you look at the books to assess what needs to be done in 2016. If you’re a new business owner or starting a new venture, there are a couple of ways to come up with how much you should allocate on marketing and advertising. You can base your budget on a percentage of your projected sales revenue or on a percentage of your total budget.
› Determine what worked
the previous year One essential part of marketing is measuring ROI, so try to be thorough with the performance of your marketing efforts. One way to do so is by consistently asking how your customers found you. Ask when a new customer calls or when an inquiry comes through your website. If you know you had success with a specific tactic last year, allocate a good portion of your budget to that effort. Don’t be afraid to try something new and if you’re not getting the results you hoped for, tweak your approach.
› Schedule around seasonal trends
Are you busier at certain times of the year verses others? If so, your marketing budget should follow the trends in your business. Remember, your business’ seasonal trends do not always fall in line with holidays – so take note of your busy times and slow times if you aren’t sure. Many businesses make the mistake of scaling back their marketing efforts during slow seasons - if anything, that is the time to increase or broaden your marketing initiatives in order to drive new customers to your business.
› Decide where to allocate your spend
Don’t be afraid to use integrated marketing. Have you always done direct mail and want to break into digital marketing, or are you ready to finally get that billboard on prime highway real estate? You don’t have to ditch one effort that works for your business altogether, but combine three, or four (or more!) methods. Integrated marketing uses different promotional methods to reinforce each other. Connect with a larger group of your target audience by combining any efforts with print, direct mail, email marketing, online banner ads, social media, SEO and pay-per-click. This is especially a good idea if you’re trying to build brand recognition.
› Get plugged in socially
Where is your target audience active socially? On Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn? Most social platforms are a free source for conversation, but there are always options to engage in social paid advertising. “I don’t have time for social media” is no longer an excuse with all the tools to help you become successful. Spend a few hours a month to get the conversation going with your potential and current customers. Once you are set up and actively posting socially, consider allocating some of your marketing budget in advertisements on that particular social platform.
› Update marketing materials
Did you change your address or are you in need of a new website? Take stock of the marketing materials you have to support your business when you meet or talk with customers. The new year is a great time to address these goals. Don’t get caught having to write your name and number down on a cocktail napkin. There are many affordable options for small businesses to cover all the bases, from digital to print materials.
Remember, marketing is an on-going effort and nothing happens over night. It’s better to stick to your marketing plan, adhere to your budget and you will start to see the return on investment. Even a little effort goes a long way and some advertising and marketing is better than doing nothing. Get creative and make 2016 your best business year yet.