A great marketing strategy is one of the most important investments you will make for your business. You won’t have customers or a growing loyal community unless people know who you are. Without customers, you won’t have a business at all. We have all heard the saying “you have to spend money to make money,” and this is true when it comes to your marketing strategy. But what should you spend your marketing budget on?
For tactics that are directly tied to sales, it is easier to figure out what your return on investment is, but there are tactics that bring you other benefits that aren’t tied directly to sales such as thought leadership, some forms of content marketing, social media community building, and others that lead to brand awareness and act as tools to help you achieve higher revenues when you use them correctly.
Marketing tactics to avoid
Regardless of what your marketing budget is, you want to make sure you spend your marketing dollars on the right tactics that will move your business in the right direction. There are so many things you could invest in, but here are ten marketing tactics that aren’t worth your money.
- A flashy, expensive website: A fancy website might seem like a good idea, but you should never sacrifice function for design. The most important thing on your website is that people can navigate through it properly and that you are providing enough valuable content and a way for them to get in touch with you.
- High volume content output: Quality is better than quantity. Blogging once per week with high value content is better than publishing a blog per day with boring content.
- Buying social media followers: Buying social media followers is never a good strategy. You would be spending money on something that would likely never turn into revenues. It is better to grow your audience organically, connecting with people who are potential customers and are highly engaged with your content.
- Social media ads… without a content strategy: As a marketing tactic, social media ads have become a necessity for certain platforms (we see you Facebook). However, there is no point in spending money on social media ads without making sure that when you send people to your page you have some great content on there for them to read. A content strategy will ensure that your social media ad spend will get you the results you want.
- Being on every social media platform: People think they need to be on as many platforms as possible so they can be found, but it doesn’t make sense to be on five social media platforms if you aren’t going to be active on all of them. It’s better to have a smaller digital footprint and be on one social media platform and do it really well than it is to be on many without success. Stick to whatever you can handle otherwise you won’t enjoy it and you just won’t do it.
- Having multiple accounts on one social media platform: For large corporations with multiple product lines and a marketing team, having multiple accounts on each social media platform could make sense. If you’re a small business, those multiple accounts cost you time and money. Chances are you won’t be able to maintain multiple accounts while providing any value for your audience. Consolidate into one account and create a solid content strategy that will help you get your message across.
- Print ads: Depending on your industry and target audience, print can be great. However, if you have a limited budget, print ads are the last thing you should be spending money on. They are expensive and it is harder for you to track their effectiveness. If you have a large marketing budget and you can allot a portion to print ads, then it is great – but make sure you have a way to track it.
- Untargeted paid digital ads: Ads are easy to get wrong without a strategy. If you are paying to reach people, take the time to target the right Otherwise you will waste your time and money. And if you don’t know who your target audience is, it’s time to step away from the paid ads and create your buyer personas to build a target audience that makes sense.
- Untargeted Direct Mailouts: It can be hard to make a case for direct mail these days in a digital world. While it might make sense in some industries depending on your target audience (maybe they’re just not that into social media!), most people just recycle those carefully designed materials when they show up in their mailbox or at the door. If you do choose to do a direct mail out, make sure you are targeting properly geographically and tactically. Only do it if it makes sense for your audience.
- Generic press releases: Press releases are a great way to keep track of official stakeholder announcements for corporate communications or general announcements. However, if you are looking to put together a media relations strategy, you should rely more on individualized pitches that are more story based so you can tailor your pitch to each media contact. Sending out a blanket press release won’t get you the coverage you are looking for.
Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, but you should invest in a strategy that will allow you to grow your business successfully.
Candace Huntly is Founding Partner at SongBird Marketing Communications, an award-winning agency working to take organizational and individual brands to the next level. With a passion for all things related to creativity and strategy, she specializes in business intelligence, marketing & branding, content strategy & development, media & influencer relations, and social media. Basically, if you need to put your brand, product, or cause in the public eye, she will find a way to do it, while making the approach unique to you.
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A version of this article was originally posted to the SongBird Marketing Communications blog.