Spring Cleaning Your Marketing

5 factors to consider when preparing your annual marketing budget

As we approach the start of a new financial year and the daffodils are blooming, it is time to spring clean your marketing efforts and think about the future. What provision (if any) have you made for marketing your business for the next financial year? Did you put a finger in the air and guess? Did you allocate the same as last year and add 5%? Or maybe you are a textbook business owner and have planned your future marketing and accurately costed your forthcoming activities. Gold star for the latter if you have!

For most small business owners’, the day-to-day juggling is all-consuming and there is little time to formulate a proactive marketing plan. If you are trying to put pen to paper on this subject and you’re not sure where to start – here’s five factors to consider in the planning and budgeting process:

1. Return On Investment

Sounds simple but all too easy to overlook and just opt for ‘more of the same’. Take a critical look at last year’s expenditure – what worked and what didn’t. Can you confidently say you got a return on your investment? Just because you’ve always done it doesn’t mean to say it’s right. Does it align with your overall objectives? If it doesn’t and it no longer fits, maybe it’s time to have a clear out and try something different.

2. Technology – Customer Journey

Marketing spans across all business functions and as such takes account of the customer’s journey. Consider how you can utilise technology to improve your customers’ experience and in doing so increase the efficiency of your business. Of course, the extent of the technological processes you can implement will vary according to the nature of the business and the receptiveness of your audience, but ultimately, if it’s used in the right way it could save you time and money and crucially increase customer satisfaction.

Could you implement live chat on your website so your prospective customers can ask you questions in real time so you don’t lose them to a competitors’ site?

Could you set-up an online quote facility?

Could you implement an online payment facility and streamline your accounting process?

3. Technology – Marketing Tools

Technological advancements in marketing continue to evolve at an alarming pace and in doing so the marketers’ armoury has grown. Social media is old news but maintains momentum and continues (rightly so) to play a key role in most businesses marketing strategies. Marketing automation tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer are worth a look as they enable you to plan your social media content, scheduling activity in advance saving the daily brain straining.

For almost a decade, marketers have been told of the importance of video. Back then it was expensive and a tool only for the big budget marketers. This is now no longer the case and video creation couldn’t be simpler. More and more people are ‘consuming’ video content and would rather watch a short video than read endless pages of content (in fact perhaps this blog post should have been a video!). Perhaps it’s time to embrace the technology and start thinking about how it can be used to aid your marketing efforts.

4. Data

Data Protection came to the forefront of our attention in recent years with the rollout of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). At the same time, we saw consumer trust decline following a series of major data breaches by globally renowned brands. In the wake of this, we must do all we can to ensure our processes collect our customers’ data responsibly and store it safely and securely. Consumer trust is of paramount importance and cannot be underestimated.

How do you store your customers' information? If you currently undertake email marketing what platform do you use and does it conform to the GDPR? If your data processes have yet to adapt to the new regulations this should unquestionably be factored into your planning and budget for 2019.

5. Content

Last but by no means least consider your ‘Content’! To a small business ‘Cash is King’ but in marketing ‘Content is King’! Marketing efforts rely heavily on all types of content for website news, social media, email marketing, pr … you name it whatever activities you have planned they will inevitably require content. Consider what resources you have available to you – is it of interest to your audience and if it is how it can be used or ‘repurposed’ for your marketing?

The more helpful the content you produce, the more likely your customers are to engage and trust you. High-quality relevant content will attract attention and hopefully generate new leads for your business. Whatever your marketing objectives – brand awareness, sales generation, client retention, take the time to add content creation to your marketing plan.

Of course, this is another simplistic take on a big subject. With so much to consider on top of doing the day job it’s easy to become overwhelmed. If you know you need to adopt a more proactive approach to your marketing and you’d like assistance with either creating or implementing a plan, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. As always Girarkle will be happy to add some sparkle to your marketing efforts!

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