Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Time to Plan the Marketing Budget

The company I work for has a fiscal year that starts in July. So we are entering into our planning and budgeting time for our fiscal year 2016 which is always fun. Full of hope and dreams!

Being in the Defense industry, we have been operating under very tight budgets that haven’t increased in a few years. And this despite three acquisitions over the same time period. But slow down in the DoD budget and the threat of sequestration had impacted our business for a time. Now however, we are back on track and doing very well – double digit growth in bookings and revenue with rosy projections for our future.

And we in marketing are excited. We have lots of plans to help drive that growth and are looking to increase our budget. Signs are hopeful. A recent survey found the rebounding economy helping B2B marketing budgets grow by an average of 6% (although I’m pushing for more than that here).

And over the years, I’ve worked hard with the executive team to make sure they see marketing not as a cost but as an investment. One that delivers returns. And I try throughout the year to point out those returns to reinforce that message.

So I’m optimistic as I head down this path yet again. It will be a couple of months before I’ll find out our final budget. Here’s hoping as I have big plans for those investments!

BTW, having a fiscal calendar that is out of whack with the calendar year is really annoying. Everything needs notation such as FY15Q3 (our current quarter in March of 2015). But even worse, try placing year-long media buys. Every vendor that I’ve ever dealt with operates on a calendar year. So I get to look at 6 months of an editorial calendar (next year’s won’t be out until November or so) and pick from a media kit that’s now getting old. Plus, others may have taken prime spots in both the print and digital arenas. But that’s a different problem.

Now off to Excel hell to get those numbers aligned.

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Berkshires

Gorgeous day here in the Northeast. Drove from southern NH to western MA and had to stop several times. Winter has shed her cloak and spring has infiltrated. I completely enjoyed the ride. It is amazing to see the green filling in. I live in a part of the world that is truly lovely.

Abuse your friends and family

Marketing input on the Cheap

Are you working on a new campaign, web site or product offering? This is a great time to use your friends and family. I’m sure you’ve done things for them in the past – bought a round for your friends, watched your sister’s brats so she and Billy could go out to a movie, ordered pizza when Mom blew up the turkey on Thanksgiving – the point is, they owe you. And now is a good time for payback.

When you spend day-after-day in your company, at your desk, talking with many of the same people, you tend to get “group-think.” What appears obvious to you isn’t to the normal human being. So what you need is to step out of your normal environment and get a better understanding of the “real” world and how they interpret your messaging.

One way to do this is to do testing. A typical example is crafting two different email messages, subject lines, etc. and sending them to two subsets of your database. Useful and worthwhile but hard to do every time, especially when time is critical. This is where family and friend abuse becomes useful.

I’ve leveraged these relationships many times to help me by reviewing web content, direct mailers, etc. They probably aren’t the best for reviewing deep content like a technical whitepaper but can provide really good feedback on many other items. And they are free!

So when you are designing new web pages, a direct mailer, an email blast, print or banner ads, video content or other similar items, think about using family and friends for review. They may not be your target audience but they can provide useful input on design appeal, imaging and wording, navigation and more. Questions to ask them include:

  • Does this ad catch your eye?
  • Would you look at this postcard?
  • Would you open this letter? 
  • Tell me what you think about this web page (probe for eye-catching items, intuitive navigation, easy-to-read and understand text)

The idea is that, even if your target is a CIO audience, the first cut appeal is common among most people. Interest and motivation often starts in similar ways. So this really is seeing if your bait is attractive enough to get the hook in the mouth. After that, it’s up to you to reel them in and your family and friends may not be able to help. But for curb appeal, they are a useful and CHEAP resource!