The other day I scared a prospective client when they asked how much folks typically allot for a marketing budget. For that reason I am not going to give you a specific percentage of gross yearly revenue. I will say that it varies based on the type of business, practice or product. It also greatly depends upon what you include in your marketing bucket.
Never delude yourself into thinking that only advertising is in your marketing budget.
Marketing has many facets like:
- Signage: Sure the sign on your building was thought of as marketing during the initial purchase. Has sign maintenance since been categorized as an operational expense? If so, then why? For brick and mortar businesses signage is your greeting to the world. It is a shiny beacon of your brand.
- Presentation: How you present your business and yourself is a huge part of marketing.
- Cleanliness: I did some work for a business whose patrons loved the business owners and loved the convenient location. However, I conducted a survey through which patrons said that they would stop using this business if they could because of cleanliness. Cleaning immediately became a marketing expense.
- Upgrades: Retailers understand the importance of presentation. I often have to give my professional practice clients an education. A waiting room is an opportunity. You must be up-to-date without being ostentatious. Yes even your carpeting makes an impression about your brand.
- Clothing: Realtors are excellent at understanding how their appearance impacts their individual brand. Uniforms in some fields are necessities while in others useful for instilling trust and confidence.
- Sight, Sound, Smell and Feel: Some customer/clients/patrons/patients will remember how they felt when dealing with your business, some what they saw and some what they heard. Be true to your brand on all counts. And, of course only leave a delightful scent memory.
- Inter-Personal Communications: I had a client who provided excellent products and services but was excruciatingly uncomfortable talking to his potential clients. He had to commit to training and education in the art of conversation and public speaking. These expenses were most certainly marketing.
- Staff, Family & Friends: Everyone you know should understand what you do and how to clearly explain it in conversation. Sounds easy? Not. We often want to over-explain what we do. Mission statements are too lofty and not easily reiterated. Factor in the time as an expense to come up with your best “30-second speech” or “elevator speech” and be consistent in sharing it. When those in your circle of influence can accurately represent your business you have created a referral network.
- Time: An expense is not always in the form of a check you have to write. Your time is precious and must be accounted for. Networking, training, social media interaction and blogging etc. are marketing time investments.
- Customer Service: Customer Service IS part of marketing. Happy customers are better resources for repeat business and referrals than any ad. Customers are happy when, amongst other things it is easy to do business with you. How are they greeted? Is it easy for them to pay? No, they won’t tell their friends how easy it was to pay, but they sure will if it is difficult and unpleasant. Be sure to include efforts toward excellent customer service as part of your marketing expenses.
I could go on and on. Just remember marketing’s sole purpose is to positively impact your revenue or profitability. Account for any and all efforts you make. And, get a marketing plan!
Vanessa Marttinen is currently the Founder and Senior Consultant of American Marketeur. American Marketeur is an independent full-service marketing firm, based in Wilmington, NC, focusing on building revenue-generating marketing plans. Vanessa Marttinen offers her clients completely unbiased advice by never taking mark ups on media buys. American Marketeur accommodates any type or size of business or practice through an enormous network of innovators, designers, programmers, experts and visual producers. Visit www.AmericanMarketeur.com or contact Vanessa Marttinen at [email protected] or 910-338-6479 for a free, no-obligation consultation.