When Is A Bargain Not A Bargain? Qualifying your marketing budget.

Budgets are tight and marketing is often the first line item that gets cut. Marketing budgets need to earn their keep but how do you know if they are doing so?

Let me share with you some real-world scenarios and the lessons that can be drawn from them.

A bargain isn’t a bargain if you don’t need the service.

I got a call recently from a prospect. He is in a very competitive industry and knows he needs to be “out there” with respect to online marketing. To that end he began working with a vendor who specializes in his industry. They were going to take care of everything for him; hosting his website, content creation, analytics, etc. He contracted with them for their complete package.

But that vendor only focused on one aspect of his business, so he contracted with another vendor to flesh out  his sub-specialty. They were going to do for his sub-specialty what the other vendor was doing for his primary industry.

Good stuff, yeah? Except no. It wasn’t.

He wasn’t getting any hits because each vendor was working on a proprietary system that wouldn’t play nicely with other systems. He ended up with several domains that did not reflect the name of his business or interact with each other. Visitors would land on his primary domain and promptly be sent away.

This was no bargain because there was, in the end, no value added for him. There was nothing that these vendors were providing that couldn’t be done better, and less expensively, under one domain. By getting his house in order, he was better able to track what was happening with all aspects of his business and his marketing.

What’s driving your mobile website?

I had another client call me to ask about creating a mobile version of her website. It’s a question a lot of small business owners ask; shouldn’t I have a mobile site?

And the answer is, of course, yes. But the REAL answer is “What value are you providing?”

Without a doubt, our smart-phones and tablets are becoming our new computers. So making sure our websites work properly on these devices is a no-brainer. How you go about implementing a mobile site is a brainer. (Yes, I made that up.)

In this client’s case, it didn’t make sense to create a separate “mobile” website. She doesn’t own a retail shop or restaurant that customers would be looking for information on her while they are out and about. Her clientele typically do their research at home or work. But more importantly we know that we will be redesigning the entire site to work off of a Content Management System in the next 6-12 months. It makes more sense to include responsive design as part of that larger project.

What if we weren’t planning on redoing the website in the near-term? Well maybe then we have a conversation about making changes to the website to make it more mobile-friendly. That conversation too, would include talks of what value is there in doing this?

Creating mobile for mobile’s sake alone is no bargain. 

Marketing is, by its very nature, “squishy”. It’s difficult to evaluate what is providing value for your business. Marketing is about creating awareness and building confidence around your company’s name. So how do you evaluate the relative value of something that has no intrinsic value of its own? Think like your customers.

Will your actions make it easier for them to understand you and your business? Will it build confidence and provide a professional image? Or does it seem like its more about you than them?

When it comes to your marketing budget, sometimes a bargain is worth passing up.

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