marketing an expense or investment

Marketing, an expense, or an investment for your business?

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When you hear the words “marketing budget,” do you find yourself in the fetal position and immediately imagine your bank account running dry?

Yep, I’ve heard it many times. And if I’m being honest, as a business owner, I have found myself doing the same thing. Anything that takes money out of your bank account is reducing profits for the company and impacting the bottom line.

But with marketing, it’s different. That’s because, after almost 2 decades of working in the field, I know how to play the game. And marketing is a long-term game. It’s also a strategy that shouldn’t be employed for immediate returns and straightforward sales in a short amount of time. The most effective marketing strategy is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you’re looking for a true marketing strategy, one that is about building brand awareness, establishing your company as an industry thought leader, and increasing engagement with prospects and customers, marketing just might be the investment you need to make.

The Marketing Evolution

Marketing has evolved over the last few decades. However, marketing’s real goal remains the same, which is to communicate your company’s message to the masses through various distribution channels. The end result (and marketing gold) is establishing your company as THE company to do business with and landing a sale.

Do you remember the good old days of being able to pick EXACTLY where you wanted your ad placed in the local newspaper and paying for that specific location for a set amount of time? The newspaper rep probably even wooed you with their reader demographics and promised your ad would be seen and the phone would ring. But we all know that it was almost impossible to track whether you could attribute a sale to a printed ad placement unless your sales process was so precise, and you remembered to ask the question, “how did you hear about us?”

Over the years, however, marketers got smarter as technology advanced. They began incorporating tracking methods into those print ads to see if they really worked. Tactics like QR codes, coupon codes, and vanity URLs were all utilized to see how effective an ad performed in print.

The Power of Digital Marketing Today

Today, print ads are becoming less utilized. Instead, marketing and advertising efforts have shifted most notably to web-based mediums like social platforms, email marketing, and search engines because of the incredible tracking and targeting capabilities that only they can provide.

One of my favorite sayings is “data doesn’t lie,” and businesses now have the power to hold anyone accountable for their marketing spend and the ROI.

Digital Marketing is Like Navigating a Minefield

Saying that digital marketing is challenging is an understatement, especially when it comes to paid advertising. The algorithms are continually changing, and your competitors are bidding for the same ad space and keywords as you. The pressure that marketers face today is insurmountable, and there are days that we are all left scratching our heads as to why an ad didn’t perform well or why our ad didn’t show up.

As an example, one of the many challenges that marketers face today is the ad auction system. Simply put, if you want your ad seen, you need to bid on it. It’s pay-to-play.

Still unclear?

Let me explain it this way, for every ad you want to show, you are bidding in a lightning-fast auction against your competitors for that exact same placement when a particular keyword is typed into a search engine. Every marketer is tasked with setting up a budget (either daily, lifetime, or per click) for every ad they run for you. The highest bidder wins.

Being in Marketing Has Never Been Better

On the other side of things, there’s never been a better time to be a marketer. With all the technology advancements in place, we have a plethora of tools at our disposal that can help us reach customers. Things like marketing automation for lead nurturing and email marketing for establishing relationships and building credibility have made getting your message to the masses much more effortless.

Marketing as an Investment

If you’re looking at possibly hiring a marketing agency or on the fence about hiring a marketing person in-house, I have some insights for you that I’d like for you to think about before diving in.

  1. It’s a long-term investment. You should have the expectation that marketing is an investment in your business, and you need to be in it for the long haul. One of the most significant benefits of marketing is that you are building awareness of your company, your brand, and your offerings – and that should never stop.
  2. Marketing does the talking for you. Marketing will always give you the outlet to communicate with your customers and prospects. You’ve got enough on your plate, and not always time to continually check in with your audience to make sure all is well or if there are other ways you can be helping them.
  3. It builds relationships that will level up your business. Marketing will build your reputation and credibility as a company. And when you’re talking about things happening in your industry and business, it establishes you as a thought-leader.
  4. Marketing can (and will) increase sales over time. Increasing sales and revenue is one of the common objectives in marketing. Digital marketing (or inbound marketing as we typically call it) not only improves your online presence, but it can also yield more qualified sales leads. How? Marketers are skilled at clearly defining your customer demographics, knowing where to find them online, and creating strategies that target them. Once your message starts getting out consistently about what you have to offer, sales tend to increase over time.
  5. Marketing will help you reach your company goals faster. Marketing should always align with your business goals. As long as you have a clear strategy with goals in place that outlines what you want to achieve from marketing and what success looks like, it will allow your business to reach goals faster than a business strategy without marketing.
  6. Don’t be unrealistic with your marketing expectations. Some business owners expect results right away. It’s normal to think that with all this data we have access to, it should be easy to obtain leads. But getting immediate results is challenging. Today, customers have the tools they need at their fingertips to research and compare you with competitors in a matter of seconds. Not only that, if your buy cycle is longer than most, specifically with service-based industries, it will take longer for you to build that relationship and make the sale.

When it comes to marketing, companies can’t afford to not invest in marketing. If you’re looking to grow your business, you need to have a marketing plan. After all, no one is going to walk into your office and ask for whatever it is you’re selling unless they know who you are, what you have to offer, and have the confidence that you can solve their problems.

Are you ready to dive in a bit deeper and learn more about what marketing can do for your business? First, check out this blog if you haven’t already that dives into inbound marketing strategies. Then, take a look at this infographic that walks you through how inbound marketing actually works. Finally, when you’re ready to talk about your custom marketing plan, send us a message.

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.”
– Peter Drucker