How to make your marketing spend count

It can be really difficult to know where to invest and where you can afford to cut back when it comes to marketing.

At a time when budget counts for everything, it’s essential that anything you do spend is going to yield a return. We place a huge amount of importance on looking at exactly how each client is spending their budget; with a bit of careful planning, you'll be able to achieve more for your money than you may first think.

Step One - Draw up a realistic marketing budget

First of all, draw up a realistic marketing budget. As a rule, you’ll probably need to put more aside for marketing than you did last year if you aim to increase your sales. Setting aside specific funds will make you much less likely to jump for that ‘last minute’ advertising slot just because it seemed like a good deal, and will help you to spend more wisely.

Step Two - Carry out an audit of your existing marketing spend

Be clear about who your customers are, and ask yourself if the regular advertising slot you have in that freebie circular magazine is going to reach those people. If it isn’t, cut it out.

Step Three - Remember that time is as much of a spend as money is

Think about the events you attend – networking events can seem like a low-cost activity, but once you’ve factored in your time and travel costs they can work out to be more than you think. Don’t get me wrong, networking is often an important component in your marketing mix; just make sure you’re going to the right events with the right people.

Step 4 - Target your audience

Now that you've turned your existing marketing activity upside down and given it a good shake-out, you'll probably find that you can afford to cut out some of your current activity without worrying about a detrimental effect on sales. Once you’ve cut out the dead wood, you’ll be surprised at how much available money you have in your budget to spend on business-building activities, which brings me on to my final point...

Step 5 - Think big

If nothing stood in your way, what would you do to reach more customers? Perhaps you'd like a slot on an expert panel, a speaking opportunity at an exhibition or you want to revisit your website to attract more clients that way? Get creative! Simply thinking about how you might do things differently is the first step to growth.

Step 5.5 - Don't forget the people who matter

Research shows that businesses who take care of their clients are much more successful at retaining those clients. Don't rule out the possibility of investing a chunk of your marketing budget in showing your existing clients that they matter to you.

What changes can you make in your marketing budget to help your business grow? I'd love to hear your thoughts.