Q4 is well underway — Do you still have marketing budget that needs to be spent by the end of the year?
We know that when budget time comes around again, those departments that don’t use what they were allocated this year may not get as much next year. So how can you effectively spend the last of your budget and set yourself up for an even better 2017?
We have a baker’s dozen of great ideas to “use it” before you lose it, and have a stronger marketing program at the end. Many also have the added advantage of fitting in with the “prove it or lose it” philosophy demanding accountability and ROI. (Prove it or lose it projects marked with an asterik.)
Most of these projects, done right, range from $15,000 to $50,000 — which will you squeeze in before the end of the year?
1. Media Audit and Strategy Recommendations*
Both marketing departments and PT teams have a vested interest in knowing how much media visibility their company and their products have in comparison with competitors. A media audit should dig into overall share of voice (SOV) in all media channels, from general to business to industry-specific, as well as SOV regarding specific topics or keywords.
Knowing where your media strengths and weaknesses are will help build a strategy for the coming year to target underperforming media channels and address topics where competitors are generating more coverage.
2. Marketing Content & Strategy Audit and Recommendations*
A marketing content audit inventories your current marketing content (blogs, ebooks, videos, webinars, print materials, etc.) to identify holes in reaching all customer personas and all stages of the sales funnel. The resulting recommendations should spell out specific content pieces to fill those holes, focusing on the channels and venues that generate the most leads, sales and revenue.
3. Competitive Message Audit and Strategy Recommendations*
A competitive messaging audit compiles what is being said about your business and its chief competitors by your own representatives, analysts, customers and others. Are there incorrect, incomplete or inconsistent messages reaching the public that you need to correct with additional training for spokespeople? Do you need to create messaging that addresses emerging topics in the marketplace?
4. Brand Positioning Audit and Recommendations*
A brand positioning audit will evaluate how well your current brand positioning matches your objectives. The recommendations that come as a result of the audit should include specific strategies and messaging to use in public relations, marketing and executive thought leadership for the coming year.
5. Plan Content Strategy for Next Year’s Inbound Marketing Campaigns
This is the ideal time to plan out your campaigns for 2017. Consider your content, from top to bottom of the sales funnel, including detailing your campaign release calendar, the automated lead nurturing workflows for each campaign, and the blog editorial calendar that supports your campaign themes.
6. Video Content and Campaigns
Video content is the fastest growing medium in digital marketing. Start the process now of creating videos to support your upcoming marketing campaigns, whether those videos include product demos, how-to educational videos, case studies or Q&As with current customers, or entertaining looks behind the scenes.
7. Internal Case Studies and Results Reel from the Last Year*
As the year winds down, the time is coming to remind both your team and your boss of the successes you have achieved. Developing a year-end report and case studies gives you a chance to look back and celebrate and carry the momentum forward.
8. Consumer Surveys and Research Reports*
Using surveys and other types of original research can provide vital feedback from customers and others in your target marketing to help inform upcoming campaign strategies or even product development. Specific information-gathering methods can be simple, such as an online survey promoted through email and social media, or dig deeper into attitudes and opinions through focus groups or direct conversations with industry analysts.
9. Blog Audit Comparing Your Company Blog vs. Competitors’ Blogs*
Evaluate your business blog’s performance alongside those of your competitors, looking at traffic, topics and engagement. The results can be used to plot a blog strategy focusing on the most successful formats and subjects.
10. Develop Content for the Coming Year
Even if your full-time team is tied up with ongoing projects, you can utilize your remaining budget by engaging freelancers or an agency to develop a larger resource library of content to support email campaigns, inbound marketing efforts and blog development. By outsourcing that content creation, you give your staff a head start on the next year’s campaigns.
11. Sales Training
Use this time and budget to give your sales team a refresher on skills or update them on changes in the marketplace. Train together as a sales and marketing team to bring your departments into alignment for improved collaboration in the new year.
12. Evaluate Social Media and Digital Marketing Presence and Develop a Strategy*
Analyze all aspects of your digital marketing, from social media followers to CTR on paid advertising. Consider the levels of engagement with your blog, email marketing, social media accounts, and other website tools such as online calculators or resource libraries.
Use your social media benchmarks to set digital echo goals for the coming year to maximize results from your online content development.
13. Website Redesign
If you haven’t revamped your website recently, and definitely if you have introduced content-based inbound marketing without a new website, it could be time to bring it up to date. Redesigning your website to implement a seamless integration of your inbound marketing, lead nurturing and CRM efforts will improve efficiency in your lead generation and follow-through. It will also set up your site for future growth and enhance customer experience by incorporating responsive design and dynamic content.
All of these projects are great ways of using the remainder of this year’s marketing budget to set yourself up for success in 2017. Which makes the most sense for your team? What other ways have you used up those year-end funds?
See how the various audit types have benefited some of the top national brands in our Best Practices Case Study: Media, Messaging and Marketing Audits, then use our Audit Checklist to ensure your chosen agency provides all of the information you need.