A new season for marketing: things to consider as you plan your fiscal 2012 budgets

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By Linda Forrest

Now that those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are drawing to a close, many marketers will be looking at the fall as a time to make plans for the year ahead. We’re big advocates of maintaining PR activity all thoughout the summer, especially in the modern era where media increasingly consists of bits and bytes that occur in real time as opposed to ink on dead trees. Unfortunately, not everyone takes our advice and so the fall is jam packed with PR activity, some of which won’t bear fruit until many months from now.

With memories of the summer sun still fresh in your mind, it’s a good time to consider what your marketing plan for the year ahead will look like.┬áThe corporate world emerges from summer with a renewed vigor, ready to make plans for their upcoming fiscal year. With this comes the need to conduct a forensic analysis of your previous activities to determine what worked and what didn’t and why, explore what tactics you’re not currently using but could, budget for activities new and old and source resources whether they’re internal or external.

An honest look at your marketing activities to date

Let’s be honest – it’s easy to get settled into a marketing program that works well enough and ride it out for years. We did trade shows last year and the year before and we will do them evermore. Amen. But what aspects of your marketing program are failing you? Are you relying too heavily on traditional marketing activities that are delivering you modest results when the digital activities that could really move your market are dismissed out of hand because that’s not how we’ve done it before?

Hopefully you’ve got in place measurement tools and metrics to gauge how your marketing activities are working for you. If you don’t, now’s the time to engage such tools. Benchmark activities, set goals, and measure the ROI on activities. In our analytical age, there’s really no good excuse not to. A thorough examination of what you’re doing, what you’ve done in the past and what could work for you in the future is in order.

Additional tactics you’re considering, benefits and costs of each

How long is a piece of string? This comment is bandied about here at inmedia and Francis Moran & Associates quite frequently. There is a huge number of marketing activities you could be doing, but which ones should you be doing? Armed with the knowledge of what’s working currently in your program, you can examine what other marketing tactics you should deploy.

Earlier this year, Google surveyed 600 B2B marketers to find out what their previous year had looked like in terms of tactics, ROI, and plans for the year ahead. There’s a huge disconnect between what people are doing and what’s effective. The full and fascinating infographic is here, but here are some salient details from that survey:

How did B2B marketers allocate their budgets in 2010?

62% on traditional media (direct mail, trade shows, print advertising, sponsorships) versus 34% on digital marketing (email marketing, online content, SEO, SEM, display ads, social media, mobile)

Yet 8 out of the top 10 most effective marketing channels are digital:

The good news is that 69% of marketers surveyed planned to implement new digital tactics this year.

Budgeting

Budget is listed in that same survey as the biggest challenge, with 40% of respondents saying that they are concerned that they don’t have enough budget to fund their plans and deliver on goals. All the more reason to make each marketing dollar count. Rather than settle for tactics that have delivered lackluster results, focus on what works, expand into areas that show promise and evaluate all along the way. 31% of marketers responded that insufficient ROI analysis was their biggest challenge; plan for tactics that draw an obvious line between the activity and boosting your bottom line.

Building your team

31% of respondents said that limited staffing was a challenge. This is where teaming with a strategic marketing consultancy, to determine what program you should budget for and implement, and outsourced activities like PR can enhance your team. With the right program and the correct number of resources planning and implementing your marketing activities, marketing proves to be the investment rather than cost centre that it can be.

Image: All Posters

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