Delivering a marketing campaign on a budget

December 11, 2023

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Sam Gallagher, Director, 1473 Media

Every business owner recognises the value of impactful marketing. But in challenging operating conditions, budgets continue to get squeezed. MTP asked 1473, our marketing and brand media specialist partners, to explain how businesses can maintain visibility and market share without breaking the bank.

There is an old adage that says marketing is the first budget to get cut in an economic downturn. Indeed, a recent 1473 Media survey of over 250 SME owners, on behalf of a specialist finance provider, found that 40% of respondents had cut back on marketing activity in response to inflationary cost pressures.

But for many businesses, certainly those in the early stage, marketing cannot be seen as a ‘nice to have’; neglecting it can have a long-term detrimental impact on their brand awareness, lead generation and, of course, their sales pipeline.

In a complex communications landscape, finding the budget to deliver the campaigns you want, to the audiences you need, can be challenging. Here are some tips to consider to deliver meaningful marketing, whatever your budget.

1. Set your budget and stick to it

Every business is different and will have their own constraints. But a good rule of thumb is that B2B businesses should allocate 5-10% of turnover to marketing and those in B2C should set aside 15%-20%. Allocating a set amount at the beginning of your annual or quarterly budgeting cycle will help ensure you do not overspend on any marketing activity too early in the year.

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2. Plan, plan, plan

The most important way businesses can control their marketing budget is through thorough planning. Begin by clearly defining what you want to achieve and setting out KPIs. Having a well-considered marketing strategy and calendar for the year or quarter will help ensure you have aligned your activity with the budget parameters.

The plan should look at who you are targeting (audience), where (channels), what (what is the message and what you want your audience to do) and when (at what point will the activity take place).

3. Know your audience

Great marketing is a combination of art and science, but it begins with a deep understanding of your audience. Holding interviews or feedback surveys with your customers and prospects is a great way of deepening your understanding of their media habits, how they discovered you and what made them choose you.

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4. Listen to your customers

Your existing customers are a valuable resource to directly influence and amplify your marketing strategy. Their reviews and testimonials will hopefully encourage others to follow suit. Loyalty programmes and referral initiatives should boost repeat business. Authentic and sincere endorsement by word of mouth or on social media is a priceless – and free – dimension of your campaign.

5. Embrace qualification

As you gain an understanding of buying behaviour, you can use this data to fine-tune the creative execution and delivery tactics of your marketing and ensure you are not wasting money on the wrong eyeballs.

An effective way to minimise wastage on your advertising spend is to include the specifics, such as measurements, delivery restrictions or eligibility criteria of your product within your ad creative. This approach can also encourage your target audience to engage with your ad creative over more generic competitors.

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6. Make marketing work in tandem with sales

Using web analytics and CRM software will also help build an understanding of key buyer behaviours such as how they came to your site, how many times visited and when they are most likely to buy.

Having a better understanding of the buying habits of your customers and prospects will help you to develop proactive marketing contact that reinforces the natural buying cycle of your customer, or the consideration cycle of your product.

7. Audit your channels regularly

It’s also important to understand how leads or enquiries from each of your marketing channels are passing through your business’ sales and marketing processes.

By identifying this journey – and any friction points within it – you can improve conversions through your funnel and focus your budget and attention on the channels and campaigns that generate income for your business.

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8. Monitor your competitors

When it comes to the digital marketplace, your competition can be vastly different to your local business competitors. Keeping up with what your competitors are doing – and where they are spending their search budget – will help identify the whitespace and ensure you do not spend money on overly-competitive keywords.

Not everything in the above will be relevant to every founder’s challenges. Every business has its own unique operating or sector nuances that may change the relevance of some aspects of the guidance.

The importance of planning, however, is universal. The best way of keeping marketing costs under control is by reducing wastage. This can be achieved by having a clear and aligned plan for where you want to market and what you want to say, and by regularly testing and refining your tactics based on outcomes.

Simplicity is always at the core of the best marketing campaigns. The trick is then to develop and enable that idea to have the greatest impact. Please do email [email protected] or [email protected] if you’d like to speak with one of 1473’s marketing specialists about any of your business objectives, or if there’s a particular issue or trend you’d like us to tackle in our next article.