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Why you could be wasting over half of your marketing budget (how to fix it)

Aug 18, 2017

Do you ever find that you have so many choices available to you when it comes to your marketing? Ever struggle to decide on which are the right ones to deliver growth efficiently?

You're not alone.

During my 27-years senior experience, I have seen and unfortunately at times contributed to initiatives that have just not cut-the-mustard. Marketing typically comprises of testing different options to see which delivers the best results and when you know which is the best you can ‘back the winners’ and know you are spending your limited marketing money optimally. 

This learning, our experience and hindsight, helps us avoid making costly mistakes and make the right choices in choosing strategies that deliver optimal results.

Here's what the research says...

Research by Promixa has indicated that up to 60% of marketing budgets are wasted.

So, focus on the right strategies in the right way will give you the best results with minimal waste. Easy to say but extremely hard to achieve! With modern marketing, there are so many options and every choice has its merits to achieve a specific objective.

For example,

Social media channels can be excellent, but if you don't have a network of fans/followers it is likely to be a medium-term play although social ads, hashtags, boosted posts, etc., can help to accelerate progress. So, do you direct your limited resource to this area of marketing or focus on something else?

Emails, webinars, events, SEO, social, advertising, direct mail and so on, where do we spend our limited resources; time, people and money? If you do decide your answer is to place your business on social media, are you going to be on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram or maybe one of the many other social media sites?  What does being on each of these platforms actually mean? A static homepage that sits there describing your business or a proactive social engagement strategy that includes engaging in others’ posts, social communities, InMails, social advertising and so on? If it is the latter it will take time, money and resource whether you do this yourself or outsource to a social media agency.

Know what you are trying to achieve!

Reflect upon your ‘sweet spot’ target customers, know how you will message to them (purchasing decisions are often made by teams, not individuals), develop the content that supports your messaging and then select the marketing vehicles that will carry your messages to them and put in place prioritised and constantly reviewed action plans (remember you can’t do everything) to achieve what you are trying to achieve. Don’t forget to test and refine your strategies as you progress on your journey to achieving the best results for your business. Once you know this you can then also decide whether social media or other vehicle are the priority to support and deliver your business growth strategy.

Coming back to the earlier point when reflecting upon all of the different options is it surprising there is so much, up to 60%, marketing waste?

Here are some interesting views on decisions made by companies that can contribute to this waste:

  1. 70% of leads that sales follow up are not ready to buy (Source: SiriusDecisions)

  2. Only 9% of digital ads are viewed for more than a second (Source: Marketing Week)

  3. Only 42% of marketers say they are able to measure their social activities (Source: HubSpot)

  4. Less than 10% percent of organisations successfully execute the strategy (Source: Metrus Group)

  5. Of 26,000 start-up business failures, 67% had no written plan (Source: Vertek Solutions)

  6. It is typical that 50% of all marketing content created is wasted (Source: OMI)

  7. One of the top reasons smaller businesses waste marketing money is that they haven’t adjusted their marketing strategy for years. (Source: Entrepreneur)

To avoid marketing waste, it is important to start by understanding the profile of your demand generation funnel.

Demand Waterfall

Know where you want to be, know your funnel metrics to get there and put in-place sufficient marketing campaigns and initiatives to achieve your funnel targets. How many enquiries, marketing leads, sales accepted leads, sales qualified leads do you need to support the achievement of your sales plan?

This is important if you are to generate sufficient demand from your marketing initiatives to achieve your sales objectives. With limited resources, we need to ensure our focus is balanced at each stage of the funnel to deliver the best results optimally and with minimal waste. 

Ensuring you have sufficient energy, focus and engagement with your marketing initiatives and that your prospects are engaging on their journeys from company to an eventual customer is important if your marketing contribution is going to be optimal.

Equally important, is to monitor and compare your conversion rates at each stage of your demand generation funnel by market segment, product/application area and salesperson. Relatively examining results will help you understand where you are and aren't performing. It may be that you are creating sufficient leads and the resources you have should be focused on creating additional or new conversion strategies. By comparing relatively lead conversion rates, especially in detail by product/application or maybe by other criteria that is important for your business, you'll establish a more comprehensive baseline for comparison and improvement.

What is the best salesperson doing to achieve the higher lead to order conversion rates by each of your product and applications? This learning can be used to develop an improvement plan for those who aren't performing so well. The additional business that can be driven by such a strategy can be significant.

The average time it takes for a lead to progress from the time it is passed to sales through each of the stages of the sales process eventually to order can also provide valuable relativity to develop improvement strategies. According to CustomerThink 44% of sales reps give up after one follow-up, yet 80% of sales require five follow-up phone calls after the meeting. Much of marketing’s lead generation efforts are diminished when sales teams have longer lead follow-up times and insufficient client contacts.

Know where you want to be and have a clear plan to get there.

Journey to the future

Considering the above points, what do you need to achieve? If you don’t know, how do you know it you have the plans in place to achieve success? Once you have stated your aims then reflect upon your strategies to achieve them.

To help your personal reflection on your existing strategies (your targeting, the strategies you use to create leads and how you convert these into orders) and what strategies you should be using Epitomise has created a free online marketing strategies health check. It takes just 3 minutes to complete the easy-to-answer questions and you will then instantly receive (the whole process is automated) a personal tailored 'health check report' that provides over 15-pages of useful hints and best practice tips to help your business grow.

Survey eBook

Recognising some readers won’t want to complete the test, may be concerned they will be bombarded with Epitomise emails (please be assured this would not be the case), here are some tips/improvement ideas that may help you to improve your marketing results:

  1. Tuesdays’ have highest email open rate at 18%. 8 pm in the evening is the best time for senior level responses. (Source: customer.io)

  2. Use the word “video” in email subject line to boost open rates by 19% and click-through rates by 65%. (Source: HubSpot)

  3. 67% of B2B marketers say they see at least 10% increase in sales opportunities through lead nurturing. (Source: emailmonday)

  4. Fast HTTPS sites, backlinks, short URLs, one image content (c.1,900 word blogs) and low bounce rates improve SEO. (Source: BackLink)

  5. In 2007 it took 3.68 cold calls to reach a prospect today it takes 8. (Source: Blender)

  6. Businesses with strategic plans are 12% more profitable. (Source: M3 Plans)

  7. Take an email, cut & paste it into a LinkedIn InMail and you’ll get a 33x increase in response (Source: InsideSales, Hubspot)

  8. Personal titles are 26% more likely to be opened. (Source: Experian)

  9. 60% don't link strategy to budget. It is, therefore, a surprise that 2% say they will achieve over 80% of their strategy’s objectives. (Source: Boardview.io)

  10. Repurposing & using most viable content maximises ROI. (Source: Content Marketing Institute)

  11. Wednesday & Thursday best for #webinars with 55% of all attendees. Expect 46% of registrants to actually attend. (Source: ON24)

  12. Office workers waste more time on slow tech than they spend on holiday (Source: Realbusiness)

  13. Approximately 20% of the average database is dirty, you might be shelling out as much as £77 per poor quality record, according to SiriusDecisions (Source: Ringlead).

Why not test a few of these ideas to see if they make a difference to your marketing. Sometimes small steps can make a big difference.

60% of marketing is wasted! If you could redirect this waste to results how much more could you achieve without any incremental spend?  For example, a company with £15M in annual sales in principle could achieve an additional £960K by redirecting 20% of its less than optimal marketing expenditure to the right winning strategies (This assumes a marketing budget of 6.7% of sales with 60% spent on initiatives and 40% on headcount. The 20% redirected is of the initiatives expenditure. An X8 ROI is used. This example is provided for illustrative purposes only as marketing expenditure, contribution and ROI can vary significantly by industry, segment and initiative).

Clear planning and execution, that is based on previous learning, our experience and our hindsight, helps us make the right strategic choices that will deliver the best results efficiently.

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About Epitomise:

We help SME and Tech companies use modern business and marketing strategies to grow. From strategic advice to tactical execution grow your business with the support of a 'top-100' award-winning marketing leader who is supported by a network of expert marketing specialists. With 28-years' senior experience and a track record of delivering results, as an attentive expert strategic marketing and services company, we help you grow your brand, leads, sales and customers by doing the right things the right way. Help for as long or as short as you need.

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