Read for 5 min
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.
Marketing and advertising budgets vary widely between organizations. A commonly cited statistic from the US Small Business Association suggests spending about 8 percent of gross sales on marketing if you make less than $ 5 million a year and your net profit is 10 to 15 percent. However, a 2016 survey of 168 chief marketing officers found that companies spent an average of 10 percent of their budget on marketing, some even 40 percent. For every forecast of how much should be spent, there is a company that breaks the rules and still achieves success.
A common novice mistake is to spend most of your marketing budget on paid media advertising. Rather than go all-in for top-of-the-funnel visibility, consider investing part of your budget to include well-known consumers to maximize sales.
However, payment media are only part of the equation. A really integrated marketing strategy includes your own media, payment media and earned media. Once you've integrated all three domains, your advertising dollar will often expand further.
Here are three ways to integrate your own, earned and paid media strategies into an integrated marketing approach, regardless of your sales or budget.
Related topics: How to determine the perfect marketing budget for your company
1. Maximize brand value from the start
To make your advertising as effective as possible, you should highlight trustworthy media placements such as mentions or awards at the top of your funnel. Some ways to reuse previous media are:
Visual authority. If you or your product have been cited by a major media company, show this placement in your promotion of confidence.
TV clips. Even in a world of apps and smartphones, television remains the most consumed form of media, and guests in segments have implied legitimacy.
Number of satisfied customers. Do you have 1,000 five star ratings for a product? Instead of advertising, specialist knowledge and customer satisfaction can also act as deserved media.
Another valuable piece of property that is easily overlooked is the confirmation email that is sent when someone joins your newsletter. The opening rates for this first fulfillment email are 50 to 90 percent. (If you've used an opt-in bribe or sent a free gift, you're more likely to be in the upper part of this range.) Subsequent newsletter campaigns will then drop back to an industry-standard 20 percent open rate.
Use this first fulfillment email to showcase some of your most impressive awards, be it the most recent podcast interviews you've done, your biggest awards, or your absolute best content and brand value from the start. You may have little chance of getting your prospect's undivided attention. Make the most credible and authoritative first impression you can.
2. Invest in content marketing
According to research by the Content Marketing Institute, 70 percent of consumers and 80 percent of corporate decision-makers prefer to receive corporate information in a series of articles over advertising. So consider investing in the creation and production of evergreen content. Blog posts, videos, infographics, e-books and other content that educates or inspires your potential customers can be used again and again.
Another advantage of content marketing is that you better familiarize your prospects or readers with the problems you have solved. And if you are really good, you will convince potential customers that the solution to the problem has always been their idea, and you simply sell it.
A good rule of thumb is that if your sales department finds that you're making a large part of the calls to get an indication of why the problem is actually a problem, you may want to step up content marketing to automatically inform potential customers and Sales calls release sales and conversion. If you're not sure what content to create, you should create something that answers one of these four questions that your prospects will inevitably have when they look at you:
"Why should I do anything at all?"
"Why should I do it like this?"
"Why should I do your business like this?"
"Why should I do it now?"
If you have a substantive experience to answer each of these questions, you can move potential customers through your funnel faster.
Related: What to do when your budget runs out?
3. Engage non-buyers with a “crock pot” sequence
Consumers have different buying styles, and no matter how good your marketing campaign is, some prospects will like and trust you but will not buy from you yet. If potential customers are floating around in your funnel but aren't moving towards a sales transformation, consider moving them into an automated email sequence that distributes your best content over a period of weeks or months and pauses from hard sales.
It's not uncommon for this sequence, called the "crock pot," how a slow cooker warms up your leads, to last for several months and to drain content from one newsletter a month to a few emails a week. Make it a little easier for yourself by converting previous blogs, videos or newsletters into this order. If you've taken the time to write or create, there's no reason why this content can't be placed in front of new eyeballs week after week.
Not every dollar of advertising has to be allocated to paid placements. Consider improving the customer experience when they get to know you, and you will see a bottom line of a valuable upswing.