Business growth consultant Daniel Groves explores where startups should spend their marketing budget.
When considering your finances and scaling a business, there are so many areas that are fighting for your budget. It can be difficult to know where to spend your money, and where you can save it. I’ve spoken about how to scale a finance team, but what about marketing?
Marketing is up against operations, accounts, sales and many other areas that are important when running a business, in their bid to secure that budget. So, presenting a strategic marketing plan and proposed budget means you’re more likely to be able to scale within your means, while also running with a marketing strategy that yields results and makes it easier to map your growth. In this article, I will outline the best areas to spend within your marketing budget and the areas you can be clever and cost-cutting when scaling a start-up.
What is marketing?
Put simply, marketing refers to activities that promote the company’s product, services or purpose. Marketing is a large department and is responsible for many promotional channels, online and offline. From email and social, to press and branding, and even website and SEO sometimes falls under the remit of Marketing.
So, there is a lot to factor in when creating your marketing strategy. It can also feel overwhelming to factor in all channels of communication, within a start-up budget. Therefore it is important to understand the return on investment (ROI) for each channel and set yourself key performance indicators (KPI’s) that prove your results.
Allocating and managing your spending when scaling a marketing plan for a start-up will help you to keep track of what is, and isn’t, performing. Then you will be able to take a pragmatic approach and be flexible; a great benefit when working on a start-up is not being tied into any processes and being able to set out your own strategy.
Where to spend your marketing budget
With so many facets of marketing to consider, here are our suggestions on where best to spend and invest your marketing budget to get the best results and encourage growth for your start-up.
Nailing your content marketing strategy is one of the best (and most cost-effective) ways to spend your marketing budget and drive organic traffic to your business. While social media can also fall under the umbrella of content (more on social later), it can also cover blogs, articles, and any other written content on your website.
Conduct SEO research and make sure you create engaging, keyword-rich content on topics that your audience are interested in. Also related to branding, having a strong tone of voice present across all your content will mean that your audience can get to know the brand personality, thus increasing the chance they will connect with you.
Social media is important, there’s no denying that. New platforms and trends are emerging frequently. But, don’t feel like you need to jump on all of them. Each platform is used more by certain demographics, so be sure to have a good understanding of your target audience. This can help you to put your efforts into creating content suitable for that platform and that will resonate with your audience. For example, if your audience is B2B, focus your attention on LinkedIn, rather than wasting time and money producing content for communities on TikTok. In contrast, if your audience is younger, then focus your efforts on TikTok or Instagram, and save time by avoiding Facebook or Twitter.
Although it comes with costs, using a social media scheduling tool can help to free up valuable time that could be spent in other areas of the marketing team. By scheduling ahead, you can focus more on creating content or undertaking hashtag research that can better inform your marketing efforts.
Sometimes overlooked, email marketing in fact is one of the best marketing tools in terms of ROI. According to the DMA Email Benchmarking Report 2019, the return on investment for email marketing was approximately £42 for every £1 spent in 2018. Of course, that doesn’t mean sending out the odd newsletter will give you these great results. Crafting emails that are even opened is an art in itself, let alone emails that convert. Putting together email flows, segmenting audiences and doing A/B testing can help to inform your email marketing strategy.
Building the perfect marketing team
Part of scaling a start-up is building a strong team. This is especially important in your marketing team. You may need to consider whether you want to hire a team or work with freelancers. If you want to build a team, do you want people with broad marketing experience, or do you want to hire for more defined, specialist roles?
Each path has its merits and its downfalls. Bringing on a younger team, including graduates or early career professionals could bring enthusiasm, ideas and knowledge of trends and social media platforms. But it could take some time to train juniors up. Though it does allow you, together, to find their strong skills, and hone these. Having a more experienced team may cost more initially, for example, if you’re working with consultants. However, this could mean your strategy starts on a strong footing, as it will be backed with years of experience.
Scaling a start-up can be scary and marketing can feel like a minefield when it comes to budgeting. Putting together an informed marketing strategy with measurable outcomes and presenting this with a water-tight budget can ensure that your investment not only sees a healthy return, but creates a marketing team, and an ongoing example for future growth.
Prioritising organic content, such as blogs, taking a considered approach to social media and understanding the importance of a strong email marketing plan, along with building a marketing team that can help you to achieve your marketing goals, will mean that scaling your start-up is less stressful, and more successful.