A big part of running a successful business is knowing when, where and how much to invest, and at no time is that trickier than when it comes to marketing. We answer the three most important questions you need to ask to get your marketing budget on the right track, and see results.
Do You Need An Outside Expert?
First, you have to decide whether you want to consult a professional or trust your own expertise to make the right moves. Like day-trading, handling your own marketing campaigns may save you some money in the short term, but you have to decide if you have the time, energy and know-how to sink into an all-out marketing campaign over an extended period of time. Marketing is a game of attrition, and those who outlast the competition usually stand the best chance of winning.
Bringing in a marketing agency will cost you, but it’s less of a risk because you’ll have experts who can put forth the effort to maintain your marketing campaign over the long haul. There’s a reason so many would-be stock market investors sit down and “talk to Chuck,” as the now-famous TV commercials for Charles Schwab put it; it’s because Chuck knows more than you do. That’s what Chuck does for a living, and there’s real value there if you’re willing to sacrifice the upfront cost to hire Chuck.
Are You Ready To Diversify?
Regardless of whether you hire an agency or take the reigns yourself, the next decision that needs to be made is whether you want to play it safe, go big, or find somewhere in between. Just like investing in traditionally safe stocks, a bland marketing strategy probably won’t put you in a position to lose a whole lot—but you won’t gain a lot either.
The best way to grow your brand is through diversification. It will give you a chance at the big payout while minimizing the long-term risk. Whether it’s with a marketing strategy or a stock portfolio, you never want to put all your eggs into one basket. Place some safe bets on things that work for you, like direct mail or print ads, and then experiment on high-risk, high-reward marketing tactics. Maybe try a Vine campaign (it's new, not saturated yet in the marketing space) or go out on a limb with guerrilla marketing tactics, something different.
What's The Spread?
How much money should you put into the secure, traditional marketing, and how much should you gamble on innovation? As with everything else in life, it all depends. How big is your company? How established? What are your goals? Does your target demographic appreciate the “new,” or do they inherently resist change?
Make It Work For You
Marketing is never a one-size-fits-all proposition, and there is no magic bean that will grow your profits. The good news is that while creating marketing concepts and strategies can be an art form in a lot of ways, you can certainly apply the paint with a scientific approach. Test different concepts, track the results and tinker with them until you find the right formula for your particular company. One of the best ways to keep track of marketing spends is to break your marketing budget into buckets.
For example, my company coaches our franchisees to break down their marketing budget like this: Have one bucket for finding clients, one for getting found by clients, another for networking with other businesses for referrals, and another bucket for PR. The specific spending breakdown that works for our company will be different for yours, though. Only trial and error will tell you how much money you should put into your “getting found” bucket—for example, how much should go into pay-per-click search engine advertising—versus how much you should put into your networking bucket to go to events and join industry organizations.
No matter what you decide—whether you hire someone or do it yourself, experiment with new tactics or stick to the classics—marketing isn’t easy and there are no guaranteed results. By diversifying and testing with a scientist’s mindset, you will eventually find the right overall strategy that works for you and your company.
Nick Friedman is president and co-founder of College Hunks Hauling Junk and College Hunks Moving, the largest and fastest growing U.S.-based junk removal and moving franchise opportunity. He started the business in college with his best friend in a beat up cargo van, and now has at least 50 franchise locations nationwide. He is also a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs.
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