As a leader, top dog or any other pet name you use when referring to yourself as the decision maker; there will be times you will be faced with a decision regarding the marketing direction of your company. Decisions like now during a pandemic – when to refocus, redefine or repurpose your limited financial resources. Change is all around you, keeping a steady course during those times is a challenge all in of itself.
One of the most common areas most entrepreneurs will immediately look at cutting is in the area of marketing. As an entrepreneur your budget are not normally as flush as some of those Fortune 500 companies. As a result, your ability to refocus or repurpose resources becomes a lot more stressful and difficult to do.
Today there are many different types of marketing outlets and it can be very confusing. Some, expertise is immediately available through your personal network of family and friends. For others, it may come with an investment in hiring a marketing expert. For now, let us bring your focus back to the basics.
What is marketing or a marketing budget and why do you need one? Marketing is defined as the process used to determine which products or services are of interest to your clients and outlines the strategies best used in the sales, communication and development of new business. Ok, that was not so simple but basically stated – matching your product or service with your client. The budget piece is the estimated costs for running of these programs and projects. The why is all about empowering you to stay moving forward with each decision you make regarding your business.
Success is in the details. The more detailed you are with your ideas and plans for spreading the word; the more effective you can be in your decision making when new opportunities are presented. Recently most small busines have been facing a very unique challenge – running a business during a pandemic. The majority of your potential clients are working from home, not working at all or somewhere in between.
Your budget most likely has been thrown out the window. You will need to keep an even closer tabs on your accounting. How you are spending your monies so you can track return on the investment. When times are financially challenging it can be easy to ‘stop’ a certain marketing activity. You can rationalize within your own mind it will only be for a few months. Then you can begin the activity again – basically pick up where you left off. These days, this might be more challenging than you think.
Steam Engines & Marketing
Normal is not normal anymore experts are saying. As much as this might be true, in reality things are the same.
Here is a visual for you. Your marketing efforts are a steam engine. Each of your marketing programs is one of the wheels. Your personal passion is the coal miner that stokes the fire, and your financial resources or money is the coal. When you began your business you worked hard at building the engine itself. Putting each wheel on and in place: – Facebook business page is one wheel; another is your branding; your website; social media like Twitter; maybe local networking groups, or professional organizations you belong to. With each new wheel you add, the easier your engine moves up the hill. Your business growing and becoming known. Your passion is adding coal to the engine’s fire to boil the water (ie – client interest). Creating the steam to get you moving towards your goals.
Now you have built up momentum; but here comes your financial challenge requiring you to reduce the amount of coal feeding the fires of your business. Thinking you have all these elements in place; it seems like you have a good amount of speed. You feel cutting back and repurposing these marketing funds for other expenses is a great solution. But now your train begins to slow down, the wheels are grinding until you are barely moving.
Hup, financial challenge is behind you. After doing your happy dance, you start investing more money into the marketing engine. Yes, you may be crawling. But it will take a lot more energy, focus and passion to get the fires of marketing roaring again. You were there, then you weren’t and now you are again. Potential clients get confused. Their attention span is so small that once you’ve lost them, it is hard to get them back.
It is doable but it will increase your stress level instead of alleviating it. So, what do you do?
Details & Decisions
This is where your budget and tracking processes support your decisions. Here are some great questions to begin thinking about … What is your total revenue for the year? How much were you spending on marketing before the financial challenge came about? Is there a total amount you need to cut back by? As example: you were earning $100,000 per year and you were spending $5,000 on marketing (which is about average 5%). For you to honor your current situation what do you need to bring this percentage down to – 4%, 3%, 2%. Review how you can reduce the costs of certain marketing efforts before just discontinuing them all together.
Being an effective leader is about balance. Balancing where to invest your resources is as important during good times as it is during challenging times. Remember there are a lot of free and low-cost resources available to you. Your passion and business’s momentum depend upon your courage to raise your hand and ask.