The following article is an expansion on the below #ICoMM video about prioritizing your marketing activity according to your budget.
One of the most common misconceptions about marketing is that it is a glamorous discipline. While aspects of a marketer’s job can be extremely fun, the majority of our time is spent on activities that are not Instagram worthy. Think price assessment, ROI analysis, distribution checks, and other behind the scenes work that is essential to ensuring a brand or company runs smoothly.
When I begin to work with new clients, most of them have a laundry list of things they want to accomplish. These lists are always dominated by PR and advertising activities, because they are believed to be synonymous with marketing. But the truth is that PR and advertising are only a small sliver of pie. There are so many other things that must be prioritized before a company can start pushing themselves into the public eye.
Need to have vs. nice to have
After assessing the business’ situation, I will always revisit this list with my clients and add all the topics that I believe are necessary to improve the status quo. We then carry out one key sorting exercise in which we split all the list items into two categories: need to have vs. nice to have.
Need to have activities are the basics that are required to ensure the marketing foundation. This includes, but is not limited to, things like ensuring distribution channels are sorted and stocked, training staff, launching a user friendly website, SEO, and creating a consistent social media strategy. These tasks take time, energy, and a lot of focus but are essential to develop a solid base on which to build a business.
What many business owners do, however, is skip these tasks in order to assign budget and energy to more high profile activities like advertising campaigns, flashy corporate videos, and exhibitions. All of these activities are valid marketing tools, but jumping to them before filling all the cracks in the foundation will lead to an ineffective spend of budget.
For example, if a dentist drives consumer traffic to his business through a radio campaign before fully training his receptionist on how to make and change bookings, how to greet patients, how to open a new file, and all the other essentials then the result may be a wave of new patients that will never return due to the chaos they encounter on their visit. They are also likely to warn their friends to avoid the dentist’s services. In this case, this campaign actually backfired and damaged the clinic’s reputation.
The same can be said if the dentist hadn’t launched a quality website. If a potential patient heard the advertisement on the radio and then went to check the clinic out online only to find no digital trace of it, then it is unlikely she will book an appointment.
Nice to haves can become need to haves
The classification of tasks is also impacted by a business’ stage of development. Perhaps you’ve already set up your website, trained your staff, distributed your products, developed your CRM protocols, and all the other basics. If so, then advertising moves from a nice to have to a need to have.
Marketing can be fun, but do the work first
To avoid wasting budget, I always advise my clients to consistently question their planned activity and make the hard call about what is needed and what is simply nice to have. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can cover up cracks in your business with fancy campaigns. Don’t think that you can avoid the tedious tasks by throwing money at your business. Marketing can be fun, but it’s also a lot of work. Do the work, then play!