— Ahna Hendrix (@AhnaHendrix) December 21, 2015
— Amy Vernon (@AmyVernon) December 21, 2015
It may seem ridiculous to even say this. It may even sound like a waste of a blog post. However, from what I’ve been hearing lately, it sounds like this post is not only a topic of good consideration — it is absolutely necessary in our current times. What is comforting to know is that physical therapy is not the only industry that is commonly blind to the needs of a solid marketing budget (as seen above).
It just seems to slip our minds as PTs.
If I have a website, do a little SEO, have some social media outlets, retweet every once in a while, share, like, post, and repost — that’s enough, isn’t it?
Well… it really isn’t.
A structured marketing budget with aligned analysis gives you a precise look at your marketplace and the financial returns on your budget itself. It gives you a competitive edge, in and of itself, because you are actually doing something intentionally, purposefully, and systematically. So, even if you’re going to start with an arbitrary, small business, $5,000 dollars annual budget for marketing, that’s already beating the curve of those who are spending without planning and marketing as needs arise.
As an example of what not to do: I remember working with a company a while back which once had a HUGE regional market share. As things changed, costs got tight so the marketing policy turned into a veritable PRN and/or ad hoc marketing budget. It was ridiculous. Every little thing needed to get approved for this company — versus — here’s your budget, I hired you because you are great at what you do, rock on!
So then, how is it done? How much of a budget do you allocate? What do you spend it on? What is the expected ROI? And, how do you measure ANY of it?!
All great questions. All questions that probably span a post series of their own. But, here’s the skinny 😉
Just for the fun of it, I surveyed the top 5 Google search returns on what to spend in a marketing budget for 2016. Here were the sites that came back: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Among these five returns, I found three common themes. They are…!
1. Pay For Media
One very interesting theme between all those top search returns was how much emphasis was placed on having media being developed, designed, produced, and published PROFESSIONALLY. Good media is worth its price. Good media not only means visual media, it extends to audio, written, interactive, and relational — after all, content drives! Without good content, you are left with no wind in your sails.
2. Flip That Site
The second most prevalent theme for marketing in 2016 is getting a website up, getting a website redesigned, and/or getting a website optimized. One of the biggest lessons we learned in digital marketing is the need to test versions against versions. And, it makes perfect sense. We do this in science with a placebo group — why not on digital media? It is only through constant improvement and testing that we develop an optimal browsing experience. And, these days, people shop by browsing the internet for top search returns, social proof, established communities, and a brand appearance for which they trust. All these shopping behaviors… they start with a website. So, flip that site!
3. Go Digital
Almost every industry agrees that word of mouth is great. However, everyone has been doing it for years. If word of mouth is all you have, then other companies are far, far ahead of you. Digital marketing comprises of many outlets including but not limited to websites, podcasts, blogs, social media, email marketing, targeted ads, video broadcasts, and more. No matter the case, the unifying fact is that these are all digital medias. Rarely are people looking up at billboards, across bus stops, or in paper ads. These days, everyone is engaged through the digital devices on their desk, in their pockets, or even the ones that they are wearing. If you’re not converting to a heavily digital strategy, you need to be!
Some Closing Thoughts:
Without a structured marketing budget, it is hard to have an actual marketing strategy. Budgets so very often frame what a business can do, can’t do, should do, and shouldn’t do. The same applies to a business and it’s marketing operations. After all, how else do you compete? How else do you communicate value? How else do you discover and leverage your competitive advantage?
The bottomline is this: If you don’t have a budget, then you aren’t marketing.
Marketing is creating demand; to make money — to which, you must spend money to make money. It works. We started this post with what Disney has done with Star Wars. Their results? Star Wars has and continues to be shattering records for all the marketing Disney has done.