Category: Tips

Tips

Why Do Marketing Companies Ask For Your Budget?

February 19, 2020
marketing budget

What’s your marketing budget?

“I don’t know.”

These three words drive fear into the hearts of courageous marketing companies. It makes our heads spin, and we need Advil and electrolytes to recover. If there is a fainting couch nearby, we might darn well use it.

Why?

Because knowing your budget is essential to making the best recommendations. It gives us parameters to work within, and tells us how to think and act.

When we hear a budget, we make mental calculations in real time and start gameplanning. If there is no defined budget, this could mean one of two things:

  1. “There is absolutely no money to invest into marketing.”
  2. “You know that one dream strategy you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t justify all that A-list Hollywood talent on the payroll? That’s for us!”

The reality is probably somewhere in between these two scenarios. There is money to put into marketing, and there is (unfortunately) a ceiling into how far the budget will go (you’re off the hook, Clooney).

But here’s the thing – if you don’t know your budget, we don’t know it either. The best we can do is to make assumptions. We could dig deep into your financials, with your permission, but even that may not present the most accurate picture of what to spend. So how do you gauge your marketing budget, to provide an informed and confident answer?

To start, here are a few questions to consider:

“What Would A Highly Skilled Employee Cost?”

Think about what you are asking your potential marketing company to accomplish. Think about the skills and expertise it will require to work on your behalf. Now, take stock of what it would cost to hire an employee each month, with all the talents and skills you are after. What is this amount?

You can validate salary assumptions with job boards like indeed or ZipRecruiter. For equitable comparisons, look at listings for seasoned professionals, not early career postings. Got a rough idea in your head? Great – this is now your starting point for the budgeting conversation.

Keep in mind that a marketing company on a limited engagement will command a higher per-hour rate than an in-house employee. So it will likely be more cost effective to engage your marketing company on a monthly retainer, as opposed to an hourly billable structure.

Also, know that with a marketing company, your budget may stretch much further than hiring only one employee with a specific skill set. With a marketing company, you will have access to a full team of specialists with a diverse set of talents. So don’t look to undercut what you’d pay an internal team member. Instead, think of it as a redistribution of marketing funds to partner with an experienced marketing company, and all the benefits that come with it.

“What Do Our Competitors Spend On Their Marketing Budget?”

Think about your industry leaders, as well as your close competitors. How established are they, and how trusted? Is their website more effective than yours? Are they dominating search engine results? Try to see things as objectively as possible, without championing your own company for a moment.

If your competitors are ahead in one or several areas, then it’s very likely you’ll want to make marketing a top-level priority. This doesn’t mean you have to outspend them, or to carbon-copy their approaches. But it does point to devoting money towards marketing, and to investing a reasonable amount each year into building your presence, market position, and community engagement.

Do a little recon, if possible. How much do competitors spend each year on marketing? If your budget is in the same ballpark, with the right marketing team behind you, then you have a nice chance of going head to head. This is true even if you’re the underdog – marketers love a good fight. But if you’re spending a fraction of what they are, it’s likely you’ll end up with the same fraction of market share, year after year.

“What Does It Take To Become Our Customer?”

We can’t all sell umbrellas in the rain. Purchasing from your company may be a complex and nuanced process. Even if you sell a relatively simple product or service, consumers may agonize over the decision. They may want to read, learn, ask peers, and engage in any number of ways before making the commitment. And what if your product or service actually is complex and nuanced?

Education and behavior change are two of the more challenging types of marketing. Talking people out of what they know and are comfortable with, and into a new solution, takes time and patience. It can be very rewarding, but there is a lot of ramp-up that goes into educating consumers and giving them reason to trust you.

So how much do you spend? If your product or service is a new or revolutionary concept, then you’ll likely want to spend 1.5x or more the typical marketing budget to get the word out. Give your marketing team room to experiment, to prove out the concept, and show you what connects with consumers. This will give you a foundation to build from, and point the direction to next steps.

Once you’ve hit critical mass, and your product or service is virtually selling itself, then consider dialing back the marketing expenditure. But until then, you’re facing an uphill battle. Equip your team accordingly.

So, About That Marketing Budget…

All this is great, but how much should your marketing budget be?

If you go straight according to the numbers, look at spending 5-8% of your total gross revenue to maintain your current marketing position. If you are looking to grow, and take on competitors, then 10-12% of total gross revenue will be more appropriate.

Of course, this estimate varies by industry. It may not account for direct costs like ad spend, or your internal marketing team salaries. But now you have a benchmark to start with, and another way to determine how much to spend on your marketing initiatives. As goals are achieved, don’t make the same mistake that a lot of companies do and cut your spend. Instead, consider budgeting more towards marketing, to experiment, evolve, and gain a larger competitive edge.

Working With Your Budget

No matter your marketing budget, we will apply what you have to work with and use it most effectively. Healthy budgets let us cover more ground, and in many cases work faster. We are able to devote more team members, time, and higher level expertise to your projects.

Slimmer budgets give us a starting point. We may be able to cover one or two areas of your marketing, with the shared understanding that we are working within limitations. To take on your entire marketing program, or work with fewer constraints, the budget would need to be adjusted accordingly. But don’t be afraid to share your budget, and the figure you are able to devote towards marketing each month. We will always provide insights into how to apply this budget most effectively.

Marketing budgets drive business. They create excitement, momentum, and community around your company. They attract, educate, entertain, and inform your desired audience. They set you apart from the competition, and they set the trajectory for the next 5-10 years. They are an essential component of achieving your business and marketing goals.

So, with all this in mind, what’s your marketing budget?

Tips

How to Hire a Dynamite Content Marketer for Your Team

October 18, 2019
dynamite content marketing visual

Creating and executing the perfect content marketing strategy requires more than a goal. It depends on having the right people running your content program. Today’s business landscape demands high-quality content in order to be seen, and to stand out. However, hiring the perfect marketer can be a little challenging. The following list details some of the things to keep in mind when searching for your next content marketer.

Look for These Attributes

Everyone is different, which means you are going to see a variety of personalities when you begin to interview. According to TINYpulse, the best way to hire for the job is to understand which attributes you want in your content marketer. For example, a lot of content marketers and writers are introverts. Because of this, your candidates may not demonstrate leadership qualities in an interview setting.

Is this important? It may not be, unless you are hiring for a management position. Instead, focus on the specific needs of the content role. Seek someone who’s organized, has excellent communication skills, and who is honest. Look for an individual who can write snappy headlines and also long-form content. Narrow down to candidates who can effectively and concisely communicate your brand’s value with creative ideas and energy. This may sound simple, but these are the attributes that make all of the difference for a good long-term hire.

How to Identify Favorable Attributes in a Content Marketer Candidate

Learning about a person’s strengths is often impossible during one 5-minute interview. Therefore, we highly recommend implementing procedures that help you to get to know the potential employee, and vice versa. As The Hire Talent suggests, pre-employment tests can be used to measure a candidate’s behavior, personality, reasoning, competency, integrity, skills, and cognitive ability. These tests enable you to observe the candidate in action. They also ensure that you consider all qualified candidates equally, without inadvertent bias.

Specific Questions for the Content Marketer Position

There is no doubt that you will come across excellent candidates for the job. However, one of the most common mistakes made during the hiring process is choosing someone is not suited for the type of content you produce. Even if they are a strong writer, they may not understand the intricacies of your industry. Or, they may not be able to grasp the needs and pain points of your target audience.

Because of this, it is crucial to ask questions to determine the interest of the candidate. For example, do they like to research? Are they willing to dive into your company and industry to learn about the nuances? These types of questions will help determine their suitability for the position.

Whether you’re seeking to hire one or ten content marketers, the process will no doubt be challenging. However, by simply adhering to the list above, you will begin to lay down a solid foundation for your future interviews. And if you are looking for a high-caliber external marketing agency to take over your content marketing program, please reach out to us for a proposal.

Looking for more marketing tips? We recommend: 5 Tips for Being “Social” on Social Media.