Are you allocating your marketing investment dollars to your best advantage?

Whether you’re in B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer) mode, the performance of your company’s marketing investments is paramount. And just like investments in a stock portfolio or an art collection, one vehicle can rarely drive in two directions simultaneously. One stock might give great short-term results but not provide long-term benefits. Similarly, you may absolutely love the style of a particular artist, but their work may not provide you with the returns you need. Conventional wisdom advises investing in more than one stock and buying more than one artist.

As with stocks and art, deciding where to invest marketing dollars presents a number of choices. Smart money always tracks back to strategy, and strategy always tracks back to objectives, so ask yourself what the objective is for each investment.

Most everyone reading this will hone in on sales. No problem here, as that’s the ultimate marketing investment return. Still, it may be tempting to have your cake and eat it too, thinking that maybe you can invest in one ad buy that bumps sales while also boosting awareness and perception. One ad can do both, right? Note the question mark here.

Take a look at the accompanying “Blueprinting Content Architecture to Create Sales” graphic.

Marketing Funnel

This compound blueprint dovetails the traditional marketing funnel with four additional models illustrating marketing investment choices. As you consider the options, it may be tempting to make your dollars count twice. Tread carefully here, however, as that is a more magical feat than it sounds.

One or the other objective is bound to get shortchanged, with neither being served as attentively as it should. Simply stated, if budgets are tight, it’s probably best to target one objective. Do you want to drive demand and leads? Or do you want to create awareness and perception? Again, what is your objective?

Marketing investments designed to drive demand and leads do not usually work equally well to introduce your company to the marketplace or strengthen perception. That single marketing vehicle cannot be counted on to drive effectively in both directions. Many companies try to kill two birds with one budget stone, only to fail on both accounts, devouring investment dollars in the process.

If you’re a super-sized Coca Cola or high-demand Disney, the pain of a failed ad campaign might be ugly, but tolerable. But if you are one of the 17 million businesses in the U.S. with gross receipts under $250,000, poorly allocated marketing dollars have more severe consequences. Either way, big or small, established or startup, every dollar needs to perform. Creating discrete objectives with separate budgets can laser-focus your marketing investments for better outcomes.

It is possible, but rare, that your brilliant creative team can develop a strategic, multipurpose campaign. It happens.

It happened with a relatively young $50 million company I was working with when we created a campaign with this rare combination:

  • good primary message with a precision headline;
  • good secondary message with a clearly stated, straightforward approach;
  • strong call to action with a “Do this now!” limited offer;
  • good value exchange involving a best practices guide with a filled-in lead form; and
  • strategic ad placement on the back covers of highly targeted print publications.

This solid campaign yielded 700 leads, astonishing even the publisher of one of the magazines. How did we do it?

We won because we started with two goals and two budgets that merged seamlessly into one campaign. We measured results with analytics. We knew the dogs from the darlings. We were smart, we picked our media mix carefully, and we used the tools to our best advantage. Your turn.

Up next is “Media Mix, Part II: Measuring Response.”

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