There is no secret to the fact that no business could exist outside a budget. Can you imagine what would become of a company that simply went around spending on whatever struck their fancy at any given moment?
It wouldn’t be long before that business was bankrupt and so every company, large or small, sets a budget based on several factors which may vary from business to business.
The one thing that doesn’t vary, ever, is that some money must always be set aside for marketing. So then, what are those marketing expenses you really must invest in? You might be surprised at some of the answers.
1. Website Development and Maintenance
If you hadn’t thought that developing and maintaining a website is marketing-related, you might be interested to know that this is one expense you should seriously budget for. Marketing is what exposes your company to a marketplace and that is exactly what a website is and does. Whether you will conduct any business through that website is not as important as website maintenance with strategies to build momentum in growth such as what you would achieve through an SEO.
Branding is what identifies your company as unique. It is your ‘brand’ but defining your brand may not be as simple as you might imagine. Your brand isn’t necessarily limited to the products or services you offer but more so to who you are as a company. Yes, it’s about your merchandise or services but beyond that, your brand may speak volumes on company culture.
A brand is that which defines you as unique from other businesses and needless to say, building a brand will almost always take the skills of marketing specialists. These are professionals you can’t afford NOT to pay when it comes to defining and building a brand.
3. Public Relations and/or Reputation Management
Sometimes reputation management is referred to as crisis management, but to a business, it can be a necessary expense. While public relations are always important when building a brand and growing a company, one bad review can quickly go viral if it isn’t countered by a professional crisis management team.
Believe it or not, marketing isn’t always about gaining an ever-bigger audience but is sometimes about undoing the damage that just one bad review or smear campaign can do. Always leave something in your marketing budget for PR and crisis management.
4. Social Media Management
These days, having a presence on social media is essential for any business. However, for lots of business owners, finding enough time to get the level of engagement that you might want from social media is quite difficult.
Not only do you need to produce content for several different platforms, but you need to be active on a regular basis, engage with and respond to comments and queries that you might get on social media, and make sure that your profiles are kept up to date.
It can easily become a full-time job and might even take up the time that you’d normally be spending on other important aspects of your business. Because of this, you can’t afford to pay for professional social media management if you want your business to be more successful on popular social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
5. Search Engine Optimisation
When you want to find something online, the first place you probably head to is Google. You can be sure that most of your target audience are going to be searching for businesses like yours on Google and other popular search engines like Bing, so it’s important to ensure that when relevant search terms are entered, your business is one of the first to appear.
SEO has become a key part of any business marketing strategy these days, and it can benefit your business no matter whether you’re running something small and based at home, or a larger company.
Since SEO is quite specialized and there is a lot of room for getting things wrong if you’re not sure what you are doing, it’s a wise idea to invest in the services of an SEO specialist or agency.
6. Email Marketing Software
Did you know that email marketing offers the highest ROI of all the different types of marketing that you can use for your business today? Because of this, it’s clear to see that this is a marketing strategy that you really can’t afford to pay for.
The good news is that despite being one of the most successful types of online marketing, email marketing is quite cheap, and there are tons of relatively email softwares that you can use to design marketing emails and automate sending them.
Often, you will pay either a monthly subscription fee to send a certain number of emails, or you can pay per email depending on the program that you choose.
7. Referral Schemes
Investing money into a referral scheme can be one of the best ways to turn your happy customers into strong advocates for your brand and gain a lot from word-of-mouth marketing in the meantime. Referral schemes are a great investment for any business as they not only reward your existing customers for spreading the word but also reward new customers for choosing your business.
The good news is that they don’t have to be insanely expensive, either – you can offer a small financial reward, a gift, or a money-off voucher for each successful referral. And with gaining another customer each time, you’re getting a great return on your investment.
Marketing is an umbrella label that covers everything from web development to advertising to reputation management and on down the line to customer retention. If it’s about growing your company, it’s about marketing good, bad, or indifferent.
To use an analogy, think about what it would be like to go on a journey without road maps, GPS, or any tools to tell you in which direction to set off. You may eventually reach your destination but by that time, someone else has captured the attention of your target audience.
Let marketing pros be your guides so that you can continue to grow, even with a limited budget. Never underestimate the power of public relations and crisis intervention.