What’s in Your Marketing Budget?

2011.  A new start.  New hope. New strategies for success.  Most marketing professionals are optimistic about 2011.  Reportedly, there are a more conversations, and companies are now addressing their need for market share (rather than the service and product survival focus of the past 24 months). So far — it’s all good.

But the success your organization will experience this year in new leads and sales is closely aligned with the marketing choices you make.  For example, does it make sense to continue advertising on tv, radio or print at the pre-recession rate? How many carefully planned impressions will be wasted on people who are not interested in your offering? Or, perhaps, skip right over them with all the technology available to avoid your carefully crafted ads?  What about direct mail?  Is your return typical — between .5 and 2%?   What does that make your return on investment (ROI)?

The Center for Media Research shared some interesting information that can help guide your organization to a successful 2011 marketing budget.  Overall, 50% of budgets are expected to increase over last year with 43% maintaining current levels.  The top allocation increases are:  65% to email marketing, 57% to social media, 41% to Search, and 35% to mobile marketing.  This year’s losers are direct mail, down 36%, followed by tradeshow and events at 33%.  Trailing in third for the budget bruise is advertising.

Marketing is common sense at its very core.  Who is interested in what you offer?  Where can you find qualified prospects to “talk” to them?  What is better about your company’s services and products that would cause prospects to buy?  You really don’t need to look any further than your screen to answer these questions — it’s all on the Internet.  That’s where most people search topics, ask questions, seek other people’s opinions and find news and entertainment.

Companies are recognizing that their website is the centerpiece to all their lead generating efforts from information to testimonials to education.  The better your organization tends to its website with reliable, relevant content that interests prospects and customers, the more trusted and valuable your organization becomes to them.

The next step is to drive traffic to your website.  Search engine optimization (SEO) is important, of course, but only ten companies are listed on page one of a given search.  That means organizations must find ways to drive traffic to their websites where they can woe their market with outstanding information, visuals, videos and news.  The more Internet channels you use, the better your results.  For example, clearly, social media enjoyed back to back break-out years in 2009 and 2010.  We expect more to come in 2011.  But this year, it’s hard to beat the economies of scale in e-mail marketing to the prospects and customers whose email address you have been accumulating.  Pay-per-click advertising and mobile marketing should surge a bit their year as well.

Your budgets are probably approved.  But to make the most of your marketing dollars, use your common sense to determine the best allocation of your hard-fought funds.