Keeping marketing channels well-fed

Keeping marketing channels well-fed

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When there’s a dip in sales, the analysis is focused on where the problems were during the same month in the previous year. Only a few companies study the correlation between slashing of sales and marketing budgets and the effect it has months later. If lead generation is healthy and there is robust demand, the temptation is to cut back on marketing budgets as well – why do we need to ‘waste’ leads when the order book is strong? That’s conventional wisdom.

It’s like the vehicle running on reserve with the fuel dangerously low. If you delay refills, the engine sputters to a halt, even though it was chugging along perfectly a few minutes before. That’s applicable to companies as well. And then, the company is left stranded. Refilling a marketing channel is not the same as pushing the vehicle to the nearest pump.

Feeding the flow with HubSpot

It takes time for the message to percolate and reach deep. When watering plants or watching them grow, no one expects leaves and flowers to appear overnight. This obvious truth is rarely practiced.

So, the graphs tracked from the time spends started to a few months later, gives more clarity. Doing this by varying the time period will provide an average of the time required for marketing spends to have an effect. It should also be done when marketing spends are cut. Track sales a few months later and the effect will definitely be evident.

"Well-fed marketing channels pay back in multiples over time. But it is a long- term game"

With HubSpot, you can track and schedule digital promotion spends across multiple channels. And create reporting formats that show the difference both ways. It also shows the optimal spends that need to be maintained to keep channels healthy.

The number of reports specific to the industry help in creating a clearer picture of what works and what doesn’t. Unless it is a discount program or a price-off where the effect is seen in a shorter time frame, it’s worthwhile creating reports that slice and dice marketing activity differently.

Determining the promotional channels that work

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Lead generated through various promotional activities are consolidated for follow up. Instead of persisting with the same formula over time, the mix should be experimented with to figure out differences. 

Email and newsletters, for example, are far less expensive in the long run as compared to digital paid media. And companies should set aside a budget for content creation and management to keep driving traffic to the company website. There’s a clear need to own traffic rather than keep paying for traffic generation.

The other problem with paid traffic is that the quality is never as good as that generated from good quality content. It’s also sustainable over years.

Companies have found that pillar articles or videos can keep generating leads for long. But that happens only when there is enough content to attract repeat traffic and get past the threshold for regular visits. 

The other is to build the brand around podcasts, webinars or seminars if it’s a rapidly growing niche market. Attracting traffic to markets which already have dominant mainstream players is expensive.

"Putting marketing budgets on a diet is a great way to lose market share over time"

However, experimenting on the company website is the best option. When you’re playing by the rules of global giants, the game’s probably leaning in their favor rather than yours! When the company website attracts traffic independently, it acquires both leverage and closeness to customers.

Diets don’t work for marketing budgets

This recent HBR article advises against cutting marketing budgets in a recession. For most companies which have managed early growth with minimal spends, marketing budgets are among the easiest to slash because the effects aren’t seen immediately.

To use a human example, we don’t see weight loss begin the next day after cutting diets. It takes weeks and months for the results of exercise to show. It is dispiriting, in a way. Our own motivations would be much better if the weight loss started showing immediately.

So, market losses will be just as gradual after slashing marketing budgets. Managers are lulled into a sense of belief that it doesn’t matter. And that’s where the problems begin.

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Companies invest in their brands for years before they begin to see real returns. Several factors are at work, including buyer behavior and competitor activity, as well as overall growth in the category. When companies grow in the face of category declines, they’re doing something right – and most of the time, its marketing. 

Practically all advertising works by getting the message through several times over. People aren’t waiting to hear them – and they’ve become expert at tuning them out. It takes continuous effort to register the brand message and cut through.

That’s exactly why diets are disastrous when applied to marketing budgets. Because getting demand back on track is a long slog. It’s the opposite problem to losing weight. Gaining market share will be exponentially expensive – because every brand is looking at share-of-mind. And that is hard to maintain in the onslaught of messages all of us deal with on a daily basis.

Sales and marketing are joined at the hip. Marketing helps to generate demand and sales closes out on the ground. They have to work in tandem, as this article from Hubspot emphasizes.

Demand generation is not a start-stop-start process. It’s investing regularly for outsize returns that happen in the future. Talk to us on keeping these channels growing consistently over time.

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About The Author

Venu Gopal Nair
Venu Gopal Nair

Advertising and Branding Specialist, CEO - Ideascape Communications, A professional journey through the tumultuous years of advertising and communication, starting in 1984. Started out in the age of print, saw the changes with the entry of satellite TV and the momentous transition to digital. Advertising and branding today is vastly different from its practices in the 20th century and the last two decades have seen dramatic changes with smartphone domination. As a Creative Director turned CEO, making the transition personally and professionally has been a tremendous experience.

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