Bob's Blog

Getting the most out of your marketing budget

Those of you that have read this column in the past know that I used to buy advertising for my clients.  One of the clients had brought in a new marketing manager, you know the type I mean; he used to call a monthly meeting in which the only thing left to discuss was when the next meeting should be as everything else had been sorted out on the phone or by email. Pointless. He had asked me to plan the advertising for the following quarter, which I duly did, and the schedule came in at around £10k per month, and then emailed it to him. The next day, he emailed it back ‘with a few amendments’; he had trebled the monthly spend and asked me what I thought to which I asked, by way of an answer, if he’d employed me to be a ‘yes’ man. Of course not, came the reply, so I told him he was wrong, that I stood by my original schedule and that he didn’t need to spend anything like that amount. He couldn’t understand that as the more I spent the more I’d earn on commission, so I told him I’d like still to be doing business with him three years down the line rather than his overspending leading to the rapid demise of his company. He fired me, found an agency unscrupulous enough to book his schedule, and was out of business within six months.

The moral to this true story is that it’s overspending on the marketing is just as damaging to an organisation than not spending enough. Having established that you are going to need to spend something at least – those that don’t agree will already have stopped reading by now – you won’t want to spend on stuff you don’t really need. One very popular example is the ‘we’re 15 months away from our new website’ scenario; we hear it time and time again. Nine times out of ten, there is nothing wrong with the website itself; it’s not mechanical so it can’t wear out, it’s just that the client has been using it for  three or four years and it’s looking a bit passé, stale and doesn’t reflect the organisation’s new dynamic. Fine, give it a refresh, but if it functions the way it’s supposed to, why reinvent the wheel? Strip it back to the bare bones and re-skin it. A new looking website along with sympathetic marketing collateral, both printed and digital, plus the creation of accompanying advertising materials could all be had along with change, compared to the cost of a shiny new website. If the original website doesn’t have all the functionality, that’s a different matter of course, and if you are going to commission a new build, then shop around as you’ll find the quotations are likely to vary quite a lot.