Where Will You Put Your Money in 2010?
The question is timed perfectly as it’s already late September and I’m sure many of you are getting ready to start planning for next year. You might even be getting a jump on planning for 2010 as you're eager to leave this year behind and start next year off right. The challenge is that you know your budgets won’t be the same next year. The odds of having an increase in marketing funds is not nearly as likely as the odds that you’ll have to find a way to do more with less.
In some ways, the question should be, “What aren’t you planning to do in 2010?” The programs and activities that you cut out of your marketing plans can make as much of a difference as any new initiative that you add to your plan. It’s well past time to stop wasting money on old programs, executed in old ways, that have long since stopped generating business.
Once you cut out the waste, however, what do you spend your money on? It would be comforting to say here’s a sure-fire way to generate qualified opportunities and all you have to do is invest roughly X dollars per opportunity that you want to generate. If marketing planning were that black and white, we’d be able to eliminate the yearly budget battles. Unfortunately, it never is.
The good news is that the improvements that most B2B marketers need to make don’t necessarily cost a lot of money. You can invest in these areas, but vast improvements can still be made in companies with very little marketing funding.
Below are the three areas that most of the marketing teams I work with need to focus on to see business improve in 2010. My comments on costs are to illustrate that money need not be the obstacle that keeps you from executing. You can invest heavily in each of these areas, but you can also make do with what you have and still see results.
Sales and marketing alignment
There are a number of actions that can bring your sales and marketing teams into alignment:
• Defining what a qualified lead looks like.
• Agreeing on the process for follow up. For example, if marketing generates a qualified lead, the expectation is that sales follows up within 24 hours.
• Tieing marketing’s qualified lead goals to sales goals.
• Establishing a regular cycle of meetings between sales and marketing to gather feedback. What obstacles is sales facing? How are the current sales tools working? What sales tools did they need to create? Have the leads that sales was given all met the qualified lead threshold? Etc.
Cost: Zero. However, if your sales and marketing teams are so far out of whack that they are at each other’s throat, it might be a good idea to bring in an outside facilitator. The right facilitator can overcome the conflicts between the teams and get everyone working together.
With sales cycles lengthening, and projects being back-burnered, lead nurturing is becoming more important than ever.
Cost: Variable. Building an opt-in list takes time, but since you can build your list as part of your established marketing programs, there isn’t an extra cost involved.
Lead management and marketing automation is extremely helpful in managing a lead nurturing program. You may already have these tools in-house, but you may not be using them to their fullest. If not, even those of you with modest budgets can find solutions that will work. And, the great thing about shopping around for a tool to manage your nurturing programs is that you’ll learn a lot about nurturing best-practices in the process.
Finally, you may need to expand your content library if all you have are a few brochures. Remember, brochures don’t count as content. You can cut costs by repurposing what you have, repurposing articles and other content written by objective experts, creating on-demand webinars and by blogging for quick and easy content. That leaves the occasional white paper or e-book to be outsourced. (if necessary)
Enough with the static websites that haven’t changed in years. Although I believe in SEO, too many lose sight of Target Audience Optimization while they seek to improve their click-throughs from the search engines. It doesn’t do you any good to get them there if you lose them right away.
You should study SEO techniques and determine what you can do in-house and what you might need to hire an outside expert to do. I think it’s a good idea to hire a trust-worthy outside expert so you can learn from them, but don’t blow your budget on this one line item. There’s a lot you can do to get found by using vendors like HubSpot and your own online marketing efforts.
Be sure you have a partnership with your webmaster and that you work with them to test variations of your site. The smallest changes can make the world of difference in conversions.
Cost: Minimal 2010 is the year to make your website the lead generation machine (and opt-in list building machine) that it was meant to be. It takes effort and time, but not a lot of money.
Good luck with the rest of this year and here’s to a prosperous 2010 for all of us!
Posted by Melissa Paulik