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Marketing: Expense or Investment?

Is marketing an expense or investment in your organization? If you immediately think expense, I’d venture to say that you are in the majority. Viewing marketing as an expense is far more common than considering marketing an investment. After all, who wants to throw their dollars at another ad campaign hoping that this time, it does the trick… right? There is no silver bullet in marketing and no guarantee! For so many, marketing is seen as a business necessity, however begrudgingly. Marketing is what most companies turn to when things aren’t working – when clients are not renewing or reordering, the store is awfully quiet, or when your pipeline looks a little bit too dry. But if you view marketing as no more than a crisis management clean- up crew for your business when times are tough, chances are you aren't tapping into all marketing can truly do for your brand. Tactical expenses, strategic investments

Leaders who look at marketing as an expense often speak about tactical efforts alone. They might talk about distributing a new email campaign to their target audience, or maybe run a new ad, attend a trade show or perhaps highlight a limited-time offer. You get the idea. None of these tactics are by any means bad, but they must be applied to, and guided by, an overarching strategy. Otherwise, how can you ever understand why you are putting dollars into these actions?

It’s crucial to understand why a particular course of action makes sense for your business (other than fearing for your business’s life and grasping at straws). And, that they are reaching your prospects at the right time or solving a pain they may have. Expense = marketing - why

When there is no understanding of ‘why’ you are doing something, it is no wonder it feels like an expense! Running a marathon without understanding why physical fitness matters to you would simply feel like a misguided chore. In the same light, pushing out a marketing tactic without knowing how this action fits into the overall framework of your brand strategy can and probably does just feel like an expense. And, possibly, in your mind one that may not be justifiable. Look at what’s working, not just what’s lacking

Viewing marketing through an expense lens indicates that you are currently viewing the state of your business from a lack mentality. In other words, you are looking at what is missing from your brand (x number of clients, an amount of dollars in the bank, profitability, engagement, a predictable sales cycle, you name it). Rather than considering the possibilities and tapping into (and developing) what is working, you’re focusing on how to put a band-aid on what isn’t. If this rings true for you, consider how you can shift your way of looking at the value a well-thought-out, strategic marketing plan, based on your strategic initiatives can open your mind to making an investment into your brand’s marketing.

To get you started, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Which customers/types of clients does the firm want to engage with via marketing channels? What result am I looking for?

  • What verticals can we tap into, and which are no longer aligned?

  • Where does my target audience spend time? How can I communicate with them naturally and effectively?

  • Where do I see the company in one year? Three? Five?

  • What has worked in the past? What ‘big picture’ aspects are proven to be effective?

  • What is currently working?

  • What do my competitors marketing programs consist of?

These questions can help you narrow down what has worked and where you want to focus in the future, as well as allow you to zoom out and look at the bigger picture for your brand.

When you develop a vision of where you are going, you can begin to get excited about what’s possible for your brand’s marketing efforts, rather than cringing when the next agency or consultant’s invoice hits your desk.

It’s time to transform your view of marketing from an expense into an investment for your business, one strategic conversation at a time.

Ready to truly invest in your marketing efforts rather than simply plan for the expense?

Check out our 40-page Marketing Strategy Workbook, which will guide you through an exhaustive list of questions to help you and your team focus on building your plan. It challenges you to ask the tough questions about your business and a process to work through your planning.

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