In our conversations with current and prospective clients, certain questions about marketing come up again and again, no matter their industry, company size, or business goals.
Five of these questions are:
- How do we measure success?
- How much should we spend on marketing?
- Why should we outsource our marketing, instead of staffing up?
- Do you have specific experience marketing in my industry?
- Should I use traditional or digital marketing?
In hopes of helping our clients, and any business leaders with marketing questions, we decided to share the answers we often give.
How do you measure success?
When our clients ask us how we measure marketing success, we understand what they’re really asking: How will I know whether the investment I made in marketing has given me a good return?
In the age of digital marketing, we can analyze abundant data to track the reach and impact of your marketing campaign. Web traffic, search rankings, social engagement, click rates and open rates, impressions, content downloads, qualified leads, conversions, and more.
We use this data where we think it’s relevant. But marketing metrics are only meaningful when they’re connected to business metrics. Marketing success must lead to business success. And ultimately it’s our job to help your business succeed.
Of course, success is something we define anew in conversations with every client.
- What are your business goals?
- What marketing strategy can support those goals?
- What tactics are best suited for that strategy?
In the answers to these questions, together, we discover what success will look like for you.
Your business goals might be to:
- Increase new patient referrals by 10%.
- Increase sales revenue through your e-commerce portal by 20%.
- Streamline your staffing needs by shifting more customers to your website.
- Make your new location profitable by the end of the year.
With your business goals defined, we can create a marketing strategy to support your success. Then, we select the most effective marketing tactics to deliver on that strategy, tactics whose results we can measure.
- How many new leads did a white paper or infographic generate in your sales funnel?
- How many people signed up for and read your newsletter?
- How many new people registered on your website?
- How many people left reviews of your practice on reputation sites, and what was the increase in your average rating?
Sometimes the measure of success is more qualitative than quantitative. Reporters reach out to you as an expert in your field. Patients mention how moved they were by your latest inspiring video. A community comes to embrace your organization as part of their local culture.
Whatever the relevant metrics may be, the key is to connect the marketing results to your business results, which provide the true measure of your success. We’ll work with you to analyze that connection and evaluate how well the marketing strategy served your business goals.
Many factors will contribute to the overall success of your business goals, some of them within your control, some of them within ours, and some beyond control. We’ll discuss all of these with you as we work together to plan for and measure your success.
How much should we spend on marketing?
First of all, ignore anyone who gives you a single, simple number without any specific consideration of your business or your goals. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. At least no answer worthy of your ambitions—your business deserves better than that.
Some inadequate answers you might hear include:
“Set your marketing budget based on standard practice in your industry.”
This approach doesn’t consider the unique opportunities, challenges, and goals of your business.
“Spend a certain percentage of your current revenue on marketing.”
Marketing should drive revenue, not the other way around.
“Allocate to marketing whatever’s left after you’ve covered staffing, rent, and other expenses.”
This ignores marketing’s role as a key revenue-generating activity of any business.
Instead, the budget you set should be based on your goals and the unique context of your business.
- What are your business goals?
- What marketing strategy will best serve your business goals?
- What marketing initiatives and tactics will successfully execute that strategy?
- What will utilizing all those tactics cost?
When you’ve answered all four, you’ll know what your marketing budget should be.
It’s not a simple formula and it doesn’t lend itself to back-of-the-envelope calculations, but it’s the only way to really plan for success. Anything less is just throwing money at marketing and hoping for the best.
But what do you do if you work the numbers and come up with a marketing budget that you just can’t afford?
Together, we can explore how to get the most out of what you can afford. And we can also revisit your goals. Perhaps you need to take on more modest goals for now, and return to your larger ambitions when your revenue has grown enough to support them. Or perhaps you keep your goals but use a phased approach, spreading out the timeline and your costs.
While you’d always rather do everything possible to achieve your greatest ambitions, good marketing is like good business. In the long run, your business is best served by a careful analysis of costs and benefits, and by an intentional and targeted approach to your spending.
In the final analysis, your marketing budget should always be specific to your organization’s needs and ambitions. No other company’s budget really matters. All that matters is what budget will support your success.
Why should we outsource our marketing? Why not staff up?
For very large companies, staffing up may be the right choice, although even most multinational companies augment their marketing staffs with outsourced agency expertise.
But for most organizations, there can be many benefits to outsourcing to an integrated marketing firm, like LENZ. These include:
- Expertise. We’ve been in business more than 25 years, and we have the collected experience and wisdom that comes with a team that has taken on many marketing challenges for a wide variety of clients. We have seasoned experts in brand strategy, advertising, digital marketing, design, content, media, public relations, and more. It’s a level and breadth of expertise that most companies can’t duplicate in-house without busting their budget.
- Integration. Marketing works best when all your efforts are well coordinated within a clear strategy toward well-defined goals. You can staff and manage an in-house marketing department, or you can hire and coordinate six different marketing vendors in various specialties. But the best results come from working with a single, strategic partner who can integrate the full range of traditional and digital marketing tactics.
- Savings. When you outsource your marketing needs, you save yourself all the overhead that comes with hiring an in-house team, and you have the flexibility to draw on specific areas of our expertise when you need them most. Marketing is all we do, so we’ve found and developed many efficiencies and cost savings that we pass along to you.
- Stability. We’ve built our business on long-term relationships, and some of our clients have been with us for more than 20 years. We can save you the time and expense of repeatedly replacing and training new marketing staff. Our executive partners direct your marketing strategy, and our staff members tend to stay with us for a long time. We maintain a shared knowledge of your business throughout our company. For as long as you need us, we’ll be there for you.
We enjoy collaborating with in-house marketing teams when such opportunities arise. But many of our clients find they can get better results and cost savings by fully outsourcing to us instead.
Do you have specific experience in marketing my industry, type of company, etc.?
It’s true that every industry has some unique marketing needs and requires some specific expertise. However, the vast majority of what anyone needs from a marketing company is the same across all fields.
We have particular expertise in healthcare marketing, especially with hospitals, health networks, and large physician practices. And we help many clients who work hard for the greater good, from public health advocates and higher education to community organizations and nonprofits.
But more fundamentally, our expertise is in areas that transcend the industries and organizational structures of our clients. We are curious and capable lifelong learners who love nothing better than to learn something new. We’re experts in finding and telling the compelling stories of our clients. We’re adept at connecting companies to their customers. We’re students of business, designers and content creators, PR and media specialists, branding and advertising experts, analysts and advisors.
These skills are what we offer. They’re valuable when applied to fields we already know well, and to fields we’re getting to know better. After all, even if we have decades of experience in your industry, your organization is unique. To market it well, we’ll have to learn a lot about you, your goals, and your competition—and create a custom strategy that is unlike any other. That’s what we do best.
Should I use traditional or digital marketing?
Or, for the unabridged, five-word answer: It depends, but probably both.
Traditional and digital marketing tactics each have their own strengths.
For an emotional appeal delivered to a mass audience, nothing can beat the reach and impact of a well-produced television or radio ad. A billboard or a local newspaper ad establishes your business as part of the neighborhood in ways that website banners rarely can. And well-designed printed flyers or direct mail can resonate for people in ways that ephemeral social media posts less often do.
Digital advertising can be more precisely targeted and measurable. Email marketing is generally less expensive than its paper-based counterpart. Compelling video and social media content can spread organically far beyond your initial reach. And sponsored content marketing can help establish you as a thought leader in your field.
Strategically combined, the strengths of traditional and digital marketing complement one another for the most effective results.
Even within the world of digital marketing, customers often arrive because of something they’ve seen on traditional media. A TV ad might prompt a Google search, and that search in turn will influence future Google Ads results. Presented with the first page of search results or an online ad, customers are more likely to click on a familiar brand, maybe the brand they’ve seen on billboards or heard on the radio.
Because digital marketing is easier to track and measure than traditional marketing, it can appear that the digital spend is getting all the results. It may be tempting then to put all your money into digital. But in most cases, digital and traditional marketing are symbiotic, each helping the other succeed.
As with any other marketing decisions, the balance is found by returning to the goals and the strategy. What are you trying to accomplish? Who is your audience and where can you best reach them? What can your marketing budget support?
Choose the right set of tactics for the job at hand. In most cases, these will include both traditional and digital marketing, all orchestrated and integrated to best serve your overall strategy.
Do you have a question not answered above? Or would you like to further explore working with LENZ for your marketing needs? Contact us to begin the conversation.
 “How Likely are Consumers to Click on Personalized Ads?,” Dr. Liva LaMontagne, Marketing Sherpa, May 17, 2016. Retrieved September 26, 2018 from https://www.marketingsherpa.com/article/chart/how-likely-consumers-personalized-ads