It's coming up to that time of year where we all start thinking about next year's budget.
Where do we spend?
Where do we cut back?
Do we expand the team, or find a new agency to work with?
Do we invest in new software, or use what we've got?
There's lots of questions to be answered, and in this post I explain five ways to waste next year's budget.
1) Pile More Money Into Advertising
As the economy picks up, and marketing budgets begin to grow again, it becomes tempting just to put more money into paid advertising.
The problem with doing this is that it's very short term focused. Whilst an investment in advertising will probably bring you predictable, short term results, it doesn't provide the same long term benefits as ongoing investments into owned and earned media.
If you think your organisation might be over-investing into paid advertising, take a look through my previous post: 5 signs your B2B marketing strategy is too dependent on paid ads.
Are you already starting to see the signs?
2) Don't Work With Other Departments
One easy way to waste next year's marketing budget is failing to work effectively with other departments within your organisation.
Ineffective marketing departments don't have systems setup to determine which of their leads are closed by sales, and for what value. They don't ask their sales team the questions they're being asked during the sales process, or talk to the customer service team about what's getting in the way of customers spending more money.
If you want to get more from your marketing budget next year, focus on tearing down the silos. Work with other departments, and most importantly, make sure to close the loop between sales and marketing. Sales need to know how leads have engaged with your marketing material, and where they're coming from. Likewise, marketing need to know which leads close, and for what value, to know what's working.
3) Hold Onto Excess Baggage
Throwing away money is easy when you keep putting money into marketing activities that just aren't working.
If you attended a tradeshow last year and didn't get any leads from it, don't go to the same one this year.
Likewise, if you're piling thousands of pounds into Google Adwords every month, and all it's generating are tyre kickers that don't become great customers, stop the campaign.
Be ruthless with cutting back on activities that aren't delivering the goods, and put that money to better use in strategies which are working well.
4) Jump Into The "Next Big Thing"
Marketing fads come and go.
There's always a next big thing that you simply HAVE to do, that all the social media marketing experts are harping on about on Twitter. Most of them will come to nothing.
Too many marketers get distracted by new, shiny marketing tactics, and fail to scale up the campaigns that are already proven to work.
Rather than chasing the latest thing, make careful, considered investments and give them time to deliver results. Don't chop and change between tactics, never giving anything a real shot. Focus your strategy. You'll get much better results.
5) Ignore the data
Last but not least, if you're ignoring the data, you're going to be throwing away heaps of cash.
Intelligent marketers are employing marketing automation software like HubSpot to make sense of all the data they collect, and measure the impact of their various marketing strategies across the full depth of the sales and marketing funnel.
From website visits to closed sales, you need to be able to measure the impact your marketing material is having.
Which of your lead nurturing emails are most successful in moving a lead to the next stage in the buying process? Which of your landing pages convert most website visitors into leads? Which call to actions get the most clicks throughout your website?
Use this information to improve your marketing, and regularly perform hypothesis tests. For example, if you have a landing page that isn't converting well, form a hypothesis: "I think that changing the title on this landing page from A to B will increase conversion rates", make the change, and then test to see if the change generated a significant result or not.
The more sensible tests you can run, the more you'll get from your marketing budget.