4 Places To Find The Cash For Your Upcoming (But Necessary) Marketing Campaigns

Even during a worldwide crisis, your business must grow. You have your priorities right, and the need is immediate.

But even as the importance of increasing your visibility on digital platforms grows more obvious by the day, you may wonder, ‘How will I fund a meaningful marketing strategy?’

Let’s look at where you can find the cash to fund your necessary marketing endeavours. 

The expenses of flagship events

You may have planned your event calendar at the beginning of the year and allocated substantial funds there. Be it becoming sponsors of the mega-events of your product principals or arranging for your own events, exhibitions, and launches, none of these stand much chance of coming around for the next 12-18 months. Of course, you’re not alone in this. Many industry biggies like, Apple, Dell World, Atlassian, DrupalCon, NVidia, Oracle, Microsoft, and others have been forced to cancel their flagship events because of the pandemic. These companies are moving online as a way to reach their audience and maintain visibility. 

So, what will happen to all those funds that you had allocated for your event plans? Use them online. Add bandwidth to create content, liven up your social media presence, and build an impactful personal brand for your CxOs. Use the online medium to establish your brand identity and reach a relevant audience. When the time is ripe, this enhanced visibility will drive an inevitable increase in your customer base. 

Savings from canceled business trips

Have you depended on a chain of business trips to meet your clients, or your international partners each year? If so, there’s little chance of that happening for a while now. Even when lockdowns are lifted, the costs of travel will increase by leaps and bounds and remain so for quite some time. Mandatory quarantine, more expensive flights, and more reluctance in accepting invites for face to face meetings are here to stay. They will increase the cost of travel and reduce its impact. This is not a wise way to spend your cash any longer. 

You can easily use your travel budget on your structured marketing efforts to reach out to more people and enhance your visibility. Of course, reduced travel also adds time to the credit column! Beside developing blogs, newsletters, infographics, and research papers, you can also create interactive videos, podcasts, and customer success stories online to help people know your value proposition better. These strategies won’t cost you a fortune but pay huge dividends without you or your employees having to risk their lives by travelling. 

Expenses for client/customer entertainment

According to a survey by Cvent in 2018 with about 3000 corporate event planners, 52% said that their event budgets keep increasing every year. Another report by the event manager blog revealed that big corporate meetings spend about $1,294 per participant on average. Further, international visitors (potential clients or stakeholders), who are invited to these events generate about 21.8% of the spending in travel expenses, 24.6% in shopping and recreation, and 26.5% in entertainment. 

So, you see how much you spend on holding those parties, corporate gatherings, and for entertaining your visitors, who may or may not turn into potential clients? As you can imagine, no travel cuts both ways. Just like you’re likely to cut travel back, your customers and prospects are also likely to cut back on travel to visit you. While you focus on creating meaningful connections with these people in other ways, remember that you can now use these funds effectively and enhance your marketing strategies, a smart move to establish your brand presence online. It’s the smart thing to do. 

Office infrastructural development 

Did you think about redoing the interiors of your office or of shifting to a new office this year? Well, as most of your employees are working from home, what chance of that happening? Large IT companies like TCS and Tech Mahindra have announced that they intend for overwhelming numbers of their employees to work from home. When the employees are happy (no travel, more work-life balance) and they are uber-productive from home, why get them back into an office at all?

Save on that swanky office. Invest the resources that you had kept aside for the same in your marketing efforts to help your business survive and thrive. 

There is no longer any doubt that digital channels like content marketing, social media, and personal branding of the CxOs are the only way to become and stay visible in the eye-line of your target audience. Until now. if your key objection was the budget, then that should no longer be the case. 

Choosing Between Creating an In-house Team, Hiring an Agency or a Freelancer for B2B Marketing

Photo by Raphael Schaller on Unsplash

“The only way to consistently grow in B2B is to be better than very good.” – Seth Godin

But, how can you be better than good with your existing B2B marketing strategies?

You have to always be on your A-game in your marketing department so that you do not lose ground to the competition. This involves cash -B2B companies invest about 25% of their budget in their marketing. The effort is also high – founders and CEOs worry themselves sick to come up with ideas that will improve the age-old ways of promoting their business on social media platforms.

The question arises,

Do you really need to spend that time and effort to market your business or you should hire someone with the expertise and experience to handle that department?

Given that you are a founder or the CEO of a company, you will have a lot on your plate. You do need help.

So, should you hire an in-house team? Or appoint a reliable social media agency to take care of your marketing endeavours? Nowadays, when telecommuting or remote working has become quite a trend, you could also opt for freelancers to manage specific elements of your B2B marketing.

This post may help you determine the best possible choice by carefully evaluating the pros and cons of each.

Creating an In-House Marketing Department

In many cases, creating an in-house marketing department to handle your B2B marketing needs seems to be the best possible option you have.

Why is it so?

The main reason for hiring an in-house marketing team is sustained accessibility. You can turn to them as and when you please, get updates regularly, issue suggestions and hold discussions without any difficulty. While these are the ready advantages of an in-house team, some of the cons of hiring one are given below:

  • Hiring expert marketers and building a team of skilled people requires a lot of time and investment.
  • You have to take care of their needs and demands, manage them, sustain them, and keep them challenged and engaged. Most importantly, you will have to keep them busy at all times.
  • The amount of financial investment will increase when you expand the team and include senior executives.
  • The cost will keep escalating as from time and again, you have to think about promotions and increments, especially if your team turns out to be the best and are successful in taking the business to the next level.
  • Hiring an in-house marketing team will increase the operating expenses.
  • Lastly, there’s no real guarantee that you will be able to hire the best in each functional area. That means your marketing efforts may end up being only as good as the weakest link.

If you think you can manage the time and financial investment of building your own marketing team, and that you will always have enough work to keep those dedicated people well and good! However, if you have your doubts, you can always hire the best social media marketing agency instead.

Hiring a Social Media Marketing Agency

Now, if you hire a social media agency, you will not have to deal with the issues highlighted above. You can tap into their specific areas of expertise, according to your unique B2B marketing requirements. You can take their help to define a robust strategy that includes the latest and most innovative methods. Once you agree on the way forward, you can leave the rest of the task to them. However, you do need to maintain a regular connect with the agency to keep track of progress.

The Pros

  • When you appoint a social media agency to take care of your B2B marketing needs, you will rest assured that your business is in expert hands.
  • If you think that a marketing agency is not being able to deliver according to your expectations, you can always opt for the next best one in the industry. It is way easier than dissolving your entire in-house marketing department to create a new one.
  • Most of the time, outsourcing your marketing endeavours results in pulling together a group of experienced people, who are experts in their fields and are capable of improving areas you may never have thought of.
  • No training is required to make them understand your needs. Their discovery processes will ensure they capture the most relevant information.
  • The best social media marketing agencies have the latest tools at their own disposal, which they will use while handling your B2B marketing

The Cons

  • You have to hunt down the best possible social media agency from among the various options available. It’s sometimes hard to know which agency has real skills and which is just talking a good game.
  • It may not always be possible to build a partner relationship within your budget.
  • You will need to give the agency some time to understand your specific needs as well as your market niche.
  • Accessibility becomes an issue at times when you need to make an urgent connection but you find that you are unable to reach your partner.

In the case of hiring a reliable social media agency to handle your company’s marketing responsibilities, the inherent benefits, of course, outweigh the cons if your need is to drive a contained but high-quality and sustained marketing strategy.

Hiring a Freelancer for Your B2B Marketing Needs

Most of the time, a company will hire a freelancer to handle specific elements of B2B marketing, if it is new and in no condition to invest realistically in promotion and marketing. Hiring freelancers is often more inexpensive than hiring a social media marketing agency. Generally, start-ups and mid-level organisations will opt for a freelancer, or a group of individuals working as freelancers, to handle their marketing needs -often to get things off the ground.

The Pros

  • The freelancers are always on their toes to impress you and get your feedback, which they may be able to use to expand their network.
  • They are way less expensive than reputable marketing agencies
  • In the case of a single freelancer, communication gets easier, as you have to contact only one person for all your needs.
  • If there is any issue, only one person will be accountable for the same, and amendment will be easier.

The Cons

  • Freelancers are not bound to anyone or any particular company. They have a number of clients to attend to, and you may not be their only focus area.
  • You cannot blame a freelancer entirely, as they have no contractual agreement with you. They are sometimes hard to pin down and it’s not unknown for freelancers to vanish halfway through the effort.
  • Communication can get difficult if the particular individual is unprofessional, ill-equipped or dishonest. They may only concentrate on taking your money without providing results.

Therefore, if you wish to hire a freelancer, you should do considerable background research on the person before letting him/her in on your marketing team. That will help you filter out cheats and frauds to some extent.

Conclusion

In short, the choice that you have to make solely depends on your business needs, and your budget. Of course, if marketing is strategic for your organisation, you should probably hire a social media agency to handle all business to business marketing needs of your company. In case you are an early-stage start-up, get a freelancer to work for your initial needs. However, if you believe that the volume of work will be large enough, you can create an in-house marketing team. It’s what works for you that matters!

Seven Deadly Sins of Startup Social Media Marketing

Seven Deadly Sins of Startup Social Media Marketing

Yeah, I made mistakes but…life doesn’t come with instructions.

Sure it does not. But that’s not the case with social media – there is certainly some good advice out there to help you avoid blunders on social media. After all, mistakes are meant for learning and not repeating, right?

So what are some of the common mistakes which companies, especially startups, make while defining and executing their social media strategy? Here is what I have found –

#1 Incorrect Platforms

Agreed – Facebook has 1.44 billion monthly active users (as of Mar 31, 2015). But you can’t have the whole universe as your target audience. In today’s time and age, when everyone is spoilt for choice, the most important marketing decision you need to make is defining the target audience. Targeted marketing is the key of the game – and targeted marketing is by definition exclusionary. You need to clearly define your target audience and once that is done, you need to identify the platforms on which YOUR target audience is active. Remember – nobody searches for a job on Facebook or looks for a Hotel review on LinkedIn. Being present on the most popular platform does not make sense if your target audience is not active there. Here is some quick help when it comes to popular platforms:

Facebook – It’s a good platform when

  • You have highly visual content.
  • You want to leverage the community effect
  • You want to build trust in the minds of the users by leveraging their friends network
  • You are ready to spend on ads – the recent changes in Facebook algorithm have made it very difficult to organically reach out to the fans

Twitter – It is a good platform to

  • Broadcast your message
  • Join the on-going conversations
  • Connect with thought leaders and people that matter to you
  • Build a position for yourself

LinkedIn – Consider using it when

  • You are a B2B company
  • You want to connect with the professional audience and establish your thought leadership within a group of homogeneously targeted audience

Google+ – Good platform to

  • Help you with your SEO efforts
  • Participate in Google communities to connect with like-minded people

Pinterest – You can use it when

  • Your primary target audience include women
  • You have highly visual content to share

These of course are just guidelines. You need to do a more thorough research and brainstorming to finalize the social platforms for your brand.

#2 Doing Too Much or Too Little

Once you choose a social platform, you need to commit to it. Having an inactive presence on any of the platforms creates a bad impression. Having the last tweet date as 2 years back is worse than not having a Twitter handle. You need to show activity on the social platforms and need to have consistency. The opposite is also true – you just can’t do too much. Don’t bombard your LinkedIn company page followers with 10 updates a day just because that will give you more number of impressions!

#3 Ignoring Content Marketing

Content marketing is the gasoline of your social media efforts. You need to have good blog articles to showcase your expertise. You need interesting infographics to share with your audience. eBooks are good to share as a free giveaway. Whitepapers are excellent way of establishing your thought leadership. You need content. Period. Just don’t ignore it from your social media strategy. Not having enough bandwidth to create content cannot be an excuse today.  

#4 Inappropriate Content or Self Promotion

Each platform has different content need. Don’t make the mistake of pushing the same content on all the platforms just because there are tools available which allow you to do so. Each platform requires different tone of messaging and different type of content. More importantly, you also need to mind the timing of your updates. Your audience is not going to be present on all the platforms at the same time. Social media does require some serious time and attention commitment and it demands that. Don’t get away with easy options of auto schedule without giving it a serious thought or having a proper plan in place. Another thing to keep an eye on is the type of content you share. Too much of self-promotion is a big turn-off. Just because you are excited about your product or services does not mean that you can talk about it all day long. Have a good balance of education, industry insights, engagement, and self-promotion in your content sharing. 

#5 No Personal Branding

People relate with people – and this is especially true for startups where people are buying the services from the founders more than from the company. So it is important that startups include the personal branding of their founders in their social media planning and strategy. You need a face for your company.

Personal Branding
Photo Courtesy: http://bit.ly/1P0yIp6

#6 Canned Responses to Negative Comments

Lot of companies shy away from social media because of the fear of negative comments. But note that negative comments are in-fact good opportunities for you to build trust in the minds of your readers. Read more about it here. One of the foremost thing you need to remember while handling negative comments on the social platform is that you should NEVER give a canned response to any negative comment. Be personal and show genuine interest in solving the problem. Acknowledge the issue, take genuine actions to resolve it. If the there is a mistake, accept it and take all efforts to resolve it. Check this example here from Zappos – simply brilliant. Isn’t it?

Photo Courtesy- http://bit.ly/1dNplZm

#7 Not aligning with the target audience in terms of tone and messaging

Try and align as much as you can with your target audience – if you are targeting the youth, introduce some quirkiness in your overall messaging. If you are targeting CXOs, maintain a professional tone. Just make sure that your marketing tone matches with your company culture. After all, today, marketing is no more the job of marketing department only. It is the job of each and every person representing the company. Here is a latest brilliant example of this –


Do share your experience on what worked and what did not work for you. It’s all about sharing knowledge, isn’t it?

This article was originally published at YourStory.