How to Maximize Your PR and Marketing Budget in 2023
By Cara Sloman, CEO
In the current economy, marketing leaders are facing pressure to cut back on spend, but are also under heavy expectations from CFOs to maintain KPIs and growth. Gartner analysts show that with the trends around inflation and investment insecurity in 2H2022, marketing leaders are being pressured to demonstrate the ROI of every element of their budgets in a manner that contrasts significantly with the growth mandate under the pandemic spending years.
Now more than ever, it’s critical to get this balance right. Whether you’re a startup business or a large corporation, allocating company resources for marketing efforts plays a direct role in positively impacting a company’s success. Marketing drives awareness of your products or services with prospective customers, engages them and helps them make the buying decision. Furthermore, a marketing plan helps create and maintain demand, relevance, reputation and competitive differentiation.
A key strategy to maintaining an effective marketing budget is to focus on ROI when deciding how to allocate funds. Determining ROI for marketing efforts can be challenging because of the nuanced areas of public relations, advertising and building customer relationships, but being able to do so effectively can result in major benefits for a company.
The main way to balance your investment is to stay consistent with how you measure successful budget allocation strategies. Having a reliable process can give you more standardized results that you can analyze more accurately.
In the face of market challenges, industry leaders will find innovative new strategies, and deliberate, data-based decision making to create a path to success despite economic ups and downs.
So, before you start hacking at your budget, gather and analyze all the information. Begin by defining clear marketing goals to help determine your budget. Diving deeper into the data may reveal new insights and upsides.
The risks of pulling back on PR and marketing
Nearly every business leader feels the need to conserve their budget in a market downturn. True, it’s crucial to pay attention to the bottom line. A market contraction may necessitate some budget concessions but cutting PR spending and stopping brand-awareness campaigns won’t put you in the lead. These impulsive reactions risk damaging a brand’s reputation as well as its relationships with customers and prospects. Customers require solutions right away – not when the economy improves. Although buying cycles lengthen during economic downturns, the work done today to establish credibility and visibility will pay off in the long run.
Best practices for maximizing your PR/marketing budget
1. Focus your marketing efforts on your customer’s needs. It’s crucial to focus on satisfying customer experiences and upselling while also considering how you can best serve customers and deliver genuine value. Acquiring new consumers is far more expensive than keeping your current roster. Focus your marketing approach on what you want your target market to know, feel and do right now, and turn your attention to their requirements.
Get creative and find innovative ways to delight your customers. Listen to their care-abouts – based on what they want, you may need to pivot or add services and products. There might be a whole new market segment to go after.
2. Drive forward with digital marketing and PR. The internet provides numerous effective ways to spread the word, including:
- Content marketing — Create valuable content that gives customers and prospects the pertinent information they need to move further along their buyer’s journey.
- Social media marketing — Connect with customers on a more personal level and let them know you’re there for them during the good and bad times. Go where your audience hangs out the most. Take advantage of video and Stories.
- Public relations – Finding the best way to engage with a prospect and keep the conversation moving in the right direction is hard. No one enjoys pesky sales emails and follow-ups that lack concrete purpose. This is where earned media coverage can bring significant advantage; instead of tooting your own horn, let someone else – and leverage that acclaim accordingly.
3. Make informed decisions. Your entire decision-making process for budget allocation should be made around data. With this information, you can see what’s working and what isn’t. With fewer resources available, it’s time to hone the marketing channels that are underperforming based on real data and not just guesswork. So how do you determine what’s working and what must go?
Gather and evaluate key performance statistics first, including ROI, cost per acquisition and conversion rates. What areas are achieving your main business goals? Set a higher bar for success in areas that meet or surpass your goals than in those that provide little or no return.
Depending on your sales cycle, look at this data every month to every quarter so you can rapidly change direction when certain outlets aren’t generating a return. Thanks to tools like Google Analytics, we can now gather useful information in a matter of days rather than a month or more.
Using the information you gather from these sources, your content should be optimized, your customer journey and funnel stages should be adjusted, and you should determine which marketing strategies are having the biggest impact. You’ll then be able to allocate your budget accordingly.
4. Leverage existing content: Make the most of your resources! Blogs and bylines from thought leaders are excellent examples. Use the most recent keywords for SEO when repurposing this content for new blog posts, social media updates, eBook content, white papers and videos.
Long-term measurable business benefits
Businesses that closely examine customer needs and swiftly adjust plans and methods in response are more likely to prosper both during and after an economic slump. In fact, according to data from the Profit Impact of Marketing Strategies database, businesses that increase their marketing spending during downturns see higher returns and gain a larger share of the market after the economy recovers.
When times are tough, businesses can decide to scale back their communications efforts. Alternately, they can assist their customers in resolving the issues the current crisis has created. After all, businesses exist to meet customer needs. The likelihood that you will forge or reinforce long-term relationships increases in proportion to the size of the issue and the degree of reassurance and authenticity with which you communicate with customers.
Plan wisely, plan boldly
Industry leaders will develop novel new tactics and carefully considered, data-based decisions to forge a path to success despite market downturns. Consider your resources and redistribute them carefully to ensure that your company survives hard times. With the marketing objectives and spending plan that are appropriate for current circumstances, you will continue to establish the trust, visibility and brand awareness that will pay off in the future.