When we ask clients why they haven’t allotted marketing budget for the upcoming period/months, we often hear excuses like this:
- We’re heading into our slow period, so we need to save money.
- We expected greater performance from our marketing team after 90 days.
- We should have seen some results by now.
- We’ll spend more budget and expand the scope as soon as we get more leads.
- We’re not even sure what marketing is doing.
Have you heard such statements murmured in budgeting meetings? Or have you whispered them yourself under your breath in a planning conversation? If so, we understand. But, we’re here to let you in on a secret to winning at marketing – don’t give up. Just as your competitors are quitting their marketing efforts, stay the course and your perseverance will pay off.
When your company is tempted to throw in the towel and halt marketing, keep the following truisms in mind:
Marketing Is More Than Just Hot Leads
That sounds totally counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Isn’t that what all companies need? Leads; the hotter the better.
But marketing, especially for services and B2B companies, very rarely yields an immediate wave of hot leads falling through the pipeline. This is particularly true for companies who have not significantly invested in developing their brand and, as a result, own very little market share. If your buyers don’t know you and you don’t have many case studies to support the quality of your work, your marketing must work overtime to build up your brand awareness and lure people to your website to learn more.
But that’s not all.
Your marketing must also continue to remind people that your company even exists. Not once. Not twice. Hundreds of times. A first time visitor to your website may be curious about your company and your products or services, but will most likely only be exploring for research purposes and not ready to purchase anything. Even if your buyer is eager to make a buying decision, it’s unlikely they’d take a chance right away with an unknown new player in the industry. Your marketing must consistently work to elevate your brand, remind the buyer about your value, and encourage them to return to your website. That’s how hot leads are formed.
Guess what happens when you stop marketing? All of that work disappears. Your Top of the Funnel awareness dries up. Your Middle of the Funnel buyers quit returning. Any potential Bottom of the Funnel buyers forget to go back to your website. All the leads you were fostering will dry up and blow away.
Your Competitors Are Waiting For You To Slow Down
Going back to the beginning, if you’re a proverbial little fish trying to swim in a sea of big, strong, sharks, then pausing your marketing is analogous to handing more business to your competitors. In a highly competitive industry, the sharks are winning because they’re marketing and selling. They don’t stop swimming when the water gets rough. As a little fish trying to establish your brand, you’re threatening them and eating into their profits. And you better believe that when you stop marketing they won’t hesitate to eat up your market share.
A more direct example of this is when you pause ads in AdWords, your ad rank drops – thus you sink down the list, thereby giving your competitors a lift in their advertising. Once you do return to run ads again, you end up spending more money to regain the position you once possessed. The same thing applies to SEO. When you stop maintaining onpage and offpage SEO efforts, your rankings drop, thereby raising the rankings of your competitors.
Taking this a step further, when you stop marketing – even if the marketing isn’t performing like you’d hoped, you are removing your brand and your offer from the marketplace. That creates an opportunity for your competitor to capitalize on this opening. When you pause your marketing you make it even easier for them by removing yourself from the ad auctions and bringing down the cost to compete.
Marketing Improves Over Time, Even In The Slow Period
In nearly every case, your marketing should work on a cycle similar to this:
Design / Launch / Test / Optimize
In general, your marketing could take upwards of 6-9 months before you ever realize meaningful value. The process should begin with design efforts to develop a strong underlying strategy and a complete – and clear – set of goals. The first 90 days are essentially the first iteration after the launch of your marketing plan. It’s when most marketing teams review their metrics, learn what’s worked best (and least), make course corrections, and relaunch a second round.
The continuous push for optimization, and improvement, is the hallmark of a good marketing team. Rather than letting anything stagnate, your team should consistently review metrics and make changes as necessary. After 90 days, there will be a body of data to inform the team of how to launch the next marketing campaign – if necessary! Sometimes it makes sense to do more of the same before changing things up in another 90 days.
Regardless, along the way, your marketing is improving over time as your ad rank improves, your SEO rankings increase, your brand loyalty grows, and your buyers return to your site to engage with the company.
Marketing Is More Expensive In the Beginning
If you’re seeing numbers in the red and feeling the urge to pull the plug on your newly launched marketing strategy, just hold tight. Like any new, untested strategy, the first few months might produce some turbulence and feel like more work, and money, than it’s worth. But you can breathe a sigh of relief, because if you stick with your marketing strategy you won’t have to reinvest in setup costs, initial bids, initial tests, etc. As your marketing moves forward, your site will start to rank higher in search results, your ads will be seen by more people (and the right type of people) and your tools will start working together, all of which will, in turn, create a well-oiled marketing machine that produces ROI down the line.
When choosing a marketing team, make sure to pick one that routinely reviews their efforts and uses the results to optimize your campaigns. You want a team that spends your money like it’s their own and takes action to make your dollar stretch the furthest and work the hardest.