Are You Wasting Money On Marketing Without Realizing It?

How much money do you or your company spend on marketing monthly or yearly?

Through conversations with Marketers, whether casual or formal, when asked what is the ROI they expect from executing their marketing programs often I hear the words ‘Brand Awareness’ or ‘Visibility’. My next question is always “Brand awareness to achieve what exactly?

That’s when most get stumped.

The issue I continue to see with most Marketers is they don’t have a goal for their marketing beyond raising awareness for their company’s brand, product or service.

How exactly does that translate to what the company really cares about (making money), or other business goals such as market share or customer loyalty?

Companies spend tens of thousands of dollars to hire a marketing agency to manage their Social Media channels, but not sure of the value they’re getting in return.

Hundreds of thousands are spent on trade shows for booths, promo girls, and printed materials to distribute that no one cares to read.

Millions spent on sponsorships as well as television, radio, and newsprint ads that can’t correlate the ROI they bring from each spend.

This is one of those cases where ‘stick to the evil you know’ may not be the best philosophy to continue following.

Here’s a story that perfectly sums up my point.

The last company I worked for had hired a marketing agency to manage their Social Media channels prior to me working there. This agency is fairly known in the business space in Jamaica, and has a few top tier clients.

When I came on to manage the company’s overall marketing and business development I noticed two issues with how the pages were being managed:

  1. The content was irrelevant to the company and the services it provides

  2. It had no relevance to the company’s target group

When we had the chance to sit in a meeting with the manager of the agency I had a few concerns I raised in the meeting. Namely that the content, though was getting a lot of engagement, was not directly or indirectly driving business results.

The second concern I had was that the target group that mostly engaged with the content was university students.

The problem was the company’s target group is C-levels (CEO, CFO, CIO, etc.).

To say this was a huge disconnect would be an understatement.

I’m someone who believes in being intentional and purposeful with every single marketing effort, so if it’s not helping the company grow in one way or another beyond ‘awareness’ it’s a waste of time.

3 Questions to Ask to Know if Your Marketing is Creating ROI

1. Is my marketing driving the overall growth of the company?

Is your marketing contributing to the growth of the company in any way beyond simply brand awareness or number of followers, and if so how?

According to a presentation March 2018 done by David Miller, Executive Director of Fair Trading Commission entitled Advertising Framework in Jamaica – Current Framework & Challenges, 87% of digital advertising spend by a company is to raise awareness for a product or service.

However, brand awareness isn’t enough, and is only the first step in a marketing funnel or sales process. A huge Social Media following is a complete waste if it cannot be leveraged to the growth of the company.

If your marketing stops at brand awareness, then you're wasting your ad budget.

Is it helping to increase sales or revenue? Does it increase the company’s brand equity in the market, customer loyalty, or market share?

All of which directly affects the company's valuation.

Does it in any way help the company to gain a competitive advantage? A huge billboard, 10,000 followers on Instagram or hosting a soiree isn’t a competitive advantage. These are all things that can be easily duplicated.

A competitive advantage is something that isn’t easily replicated by any of your competitors, it’s unique to you and your brand. Even if it is duplicable, it will take a long time to do so to a level of being a threat to your brand.

If you can’t see how your marketing adds to the company’s growth over a period of time, no matter how small, then it may mean that your methods aren’t effective, thus your marketing dollars are being wasted.

2. Can I track and measure to know which marketing channels, campaigns and efforts are contributing to that growth and which are not?

Can you map to see how your marketing efforts are helping the company achieve its business goals?

With the analytical platforms and data available there should be no excuse from marketers why they aren’t tracking and measuring every single dollar spent.

Even if your company mostly focuses on traditional marketing, there are still ways to use technology to measure the effectiveness of each and every dollar, such as online surveys.

Another way is if an ad is run or a PR appearance happens on radio or television or outside broadcast, instead of asking individuals to visit your website or call a number, create a specific landing page for that specific ad or appearance and ask people to visit that.

On that page have a signup form that can be used for them to claim an incentive, or even have the online survey there if your goal is to collect consumer data.

That way you can quantify how many people not just saw the ad or appearance, but was interested enough to visit the page. Also, you can tell from those visitors how many converted into a potential lead by those who signed up.

It’s about being creative, strategic, and intentional in your execution.

You should be able to show data on what channels, methods, or campaigns are effective in driving business results and which are not.

If you can’t then you’re wasting money on your marketing efforts.

3. Do I have a documented marketing plan and strategy that I follow and continuously review?

The key thing to note with this point is not whether you have a marketing plan or you don’t (I know you more than likely do).

The key note is whether or not you are following it and reviewing it regularly.

Marketers will create marketing plans just to get budgets approved. However, once the budget is approved all plans are out the window.

Now it’s all about what feels good and looks good, not whether or not it is producing results.

To be fair though it's easy to get caught up in the daily execution and no longer be focusing on strategy.

However, continuously reviewing your plan is so important I would recommend holding a monthly meeting for the sole purpose of doing so to see how aligned your execution is with the plan, and what adjustments need to be made moving forward.

Steps to Ensure You Aren’t Wasting Money on Marketing

1. Know the purpose of each campaign, channel, effort, and spend

What I mean by this is you should know and be able to quantify exactly what you expect from executing your marketing strategy.

This way you are able to measure how effective your marketing was in achieving a specific goal.

2. Track and measure EVERYTHING

Posting on your Social Media channels? Track which posts are getting the most engagement, and which target groups are consuming your content.

But don’t stop there.

Setup means of knowing which posts and what content are driving leads, brand loyalty, or other business goals for your company.

Even if you or an executive sends out a press release or does a media appearance, set up channels that redirect people to some sign up form or specific page to that appearance, rather than simply asking them to call a number or email.

That way you can track the effectiveness (and ROI) of that press release or that appearance using tools such as Google Analytics to track page visitors.

3. Ensure your marketing is integrated

The new marketing cliche that seemed to have replaced ‘digital marketing’ is 360-degree marketing. However, a lot of companies aren’t really executing in that way, it’s very siloed.

What I mean is that their Social Media Marketing is exclusive from their Trade Marketing, further exclusive from their PR and Event Marketing efforts.

A true 360-degree marketing approach looks at each type of marketing as a part of a whole and entire buying process. From your potential customer not knowing about you and who you are, to becoming a customer, and a brand advocate.

To ensure that your marketing dollars aren’t being wasted you have to ensure that your marketing is integrated. One effort must be connected to the next, and each step leads to one ultimate business goal.

It should guide your potential customer on a path to the end without them having to ask the question “How does this benefit me?”

4. Your marketing focuses on solving your customers' pain point, not selling a product or service

The best way to ensure that you are wasting money on your marketing is to make your brand's message all about you and what you sell.

As Seth Godin puts it,

Facts are irrelevant. What matters is what the consumer believes."

When you preach only about features and benefits, rather than solutions to problems your customers have, they stop paying attention.

Focus all your marketing and its message around how you can help your customer, not what you sell.

By doing so it allows your brand to do more than raise awareness, it allows your brand to create interest and desire among your customers to know more about you and what you sell.

Allow your marketing to stimulate this emotion, and the sale will happen on its own, rather than you trying to force it.

My Final Thoughts

How you spend your marketing dollars should reflect more than flash and flair, it should ultimately drive business results.

In the new digital era of marketing we as marketers need to look beyond how things have always been, and be willing to push beyond to get to how things really need to be.

Not being impressed by huge Social Media followers, or eyeballs on an ad, billboard, or banner at an event, but focusing on how does all of that translate to customer loyalty, increased revenue, growth, profitability for the company, or the ultimate business goals of the company.

At the end of the day that’s all that matters.

Are you maximizing your marketing spend? If so how are you doing it? If not how can you improve it? Leave your thoughts below (comment using Facebook comment box).

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