Category Archives: Digital Marketing

3 Keys to Understanding Marketing Budgets.

3 Keys to Understanding Marketing Budgets

Ahh…the age-old questions, “Why do I need a marketing budget, and how do I determine what it should be?” We hear this a lot from companies of all industries and sizes, ages and market share. Figuring out the sweet spot can be challenging, but we can help. Take a look at these three keys to understanding marketing budgets to get you started in the right direction.
Calculate what you currently spend on marketing now.

Many companies have a fixed percentage of revenue devoted to marketing, while others have no clue what they currently spend on marketing in a given year. Whether or not you realize how much you currently spend on marketing, your business is in some way, shape, or form currently putting dollars toward customer acquisition.

Do you have employees? How about an office building? Company cars? Uniforms? All of these are what we refer to as ‘touch points,’ and they are all moving pieces of your business’s marketing budget. Touch points are essentially any encounter a customer or potential customer has with your company or brand.

For instance, let’s say you own a pizza pub and one of your employees goes above and beyond to make sure a new customer has the best experience possible. That customer’s positive encounter with your brand will likely bring them back for repeat business, and motivate them to tell their friends and even become an advocate for your brand by giving a great review on Yelp or sharing a food photo and checking in on Facebook.

Now let’s imagine you own a plumbing business with company vehicles that are rusting all over and always filthy, and the drivers tend to cut people off when driving. When people that could have been potential customers encounter a poor experience with your brand, the chance that they will ever think of you the next time they need plumbing service is slim to none, and they may even go so far as to tell friends or coworkers about their bad impression of your company.

All of these pieces work together to market your brand just as much as a television commercial, website, print ad, or any other marketing medium. Every company should have a marketing line on its P & L that calculates each touch point for your company. Factoring those in when analyzing your budget will help you understand more clearly what you are actually spending each year on marketing.
What the industry says across the board about setting your marketing budget.

From business type and revenue to overall growth goals, every company is unique and the process for developing a marketing budget is no different. While there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to setting a marketing budget, there are industry guidelines and suggestions that should be targeted.

The general rule of thumb is that 10-12% of your annual revenue should be put toward marketing. The Small Business Administration advises allocating 7-8% of revenues for companies less than $5 million. Will this be effective – or even possible – for every business? The answer is no. “Around 10% is the industry standard, but we usually tell people anywhere from 2-15% depending on what their marketing goals are and what type of business it is,” says Dave Gilbert, President of Stray Media Group. “Typically in the immediate area we serve – the upper Red River Valley – we see companies that are much more conservative with their marketing budgets, and they range between 1-5%.”

If you have a smaller company, especially one that’s still heavily in the growth phase, your magic number will need to (greatly) increase in order to create the customer following your business needs to grow in the right direction. When would it be appropriate to decrease the percentage? If your company is a strongly differentiated, well-established leader –Apple, for instance – this number may decrease because you already have a solid, loyal customer base. Even in the case of monster companies like Apple, a non-existent marketing budget or one under 1% won’t work hard enough for your business, so it’s important to think long and hard about the best plan for achieving your goals.
How to find your magic number when it comes to setting your company’s marketing budget.

Ultimately, setting your company’s marketing budget is going to first take some analysis of your current efforts to calculate what percent of your annual revenue you are currently spending. Then you need to do some serious thinking about what your business’s goals are for growth and what you want to get out of your marketing, to help give you perspective on where your budget should be.

When working to find that magic number for your company, realize going into it that marketing is an essential part of gaining new customers and should be a line item on your P & L (if it isn’t already). A <1% marketing budget won’t get you much, and goals like new customers, growth or expansion, and being top of mind in today’s competitive marketplace should be worth a lot more to any business.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Ben Franklin

Are you a progressive company with a strong focus on growth? Hoping to increase customer engagement? Maybe you’re looking to stay top of mind with your existing audience? Regardless of your current company status, start by evaluating your overall business goals and plan your budget to match.
Feeling overwhelmed? Let us help. At Stray Media Group, we recognize that every company is unique. We can customize and prioritize a marketing plan that fits your budget and helps reach your goals. Contact us to help you start growing in the right direction today.

Writing a blog

5 Steps to Build a Better Business Blog

Stop making excuses or procrastinating; if you’ve thought about posting regular business blogs or you’d like to sharpen up your skills and increase your posting frequency, the time is NOW! More and more every day, blogs are becoming paramount to successfully marketing your company. In this digital age, you not only need a blog in order to increase your standings on search engine rankings, it also gives your business clout and increases leads by using the new method of attracting potential customers – answering their questions and explaining what makes your products or services unique and why they want to buy them.

Blog Target Audience

Today’s marketing communication is all about your consumer: Who are they, where do they work and what is their position, what are their goals, hobbies, and interests? It’s important to develop these buyer personas and use them to guide your content. Think – what does this person want to know and what information is going to be the most useful to them? This will not only help you choose a topic, but guide your writing style and know how to promote your content once written. You spend valuable time writing excellent content, so make sure it speaks to the leads you are trying to generate!

How to choose a blog topic

You have identified who you want to speak to, now it’s time to narrow down the field to topics you want to present. Above all, keep your business blog conversational and not entirely product- or service-oriented. Potential clients don’t necessarily want to be bombarded with general ways in which your product or service is the best, they want a solution to a problem – what benefit do they need that they don’t already know about?

For example, if your primary business is selling tools, avoid writing a laundry list of features of your specific tools and focus on giving readers examples of how your tools can make their lives easier and recommend projects that they can be used for, such as ‘5 must-have tools for DIY home repairs.’ Above all, make it a casual, friendly conversation instead of a lecture.

How to write a blog headline and intro 

Content is surely king these days when it comes to a marketing strategy, and we live in a Game of Thrones-esque world where there are more kings than you can count, with more and more popping up each day. In order to conquer the content world, you will need an epic headline and an intro that not only grabs attention but keeps the readers wanting more. Using numbers, keywords, and exciting verbiage is key – tell them why they must read this article!

How to organize a business blog

You’ve figured out the who and the what, now it’s time to write, organize, and condense your content so it is easy to read and retain. Start by doing research on your topic. Although you may be well versed in the products and services your business offers, it is helpful to see how yours stands out from the competition and you may even find new, unique, and interesting ways potential clients can use them. After research, you’ll have a better idea of what the most important message is and how to organize those thoughts. Try coming up with 3 to 5 sub-topics that you would like to cover that will be the most beneficial to the reader to start with, then keep what you want to say organized under those different sections. This will ensure a wide range of information, but also allow you to condense content to only need-to-know information within each part. Remember to keep it short and sweet; 1,000 words maximum. Your blog doesn’t need to be a novel with every last feature and benefit, just something to answer potential clients’ questions and get them interested.

Posting and promoting a blog

Once you’re done writing, the fun begins! It’s time to take a break, delete the blog from your brain for a bit (at least a few hours!), and focus on something else. Giving yourself a little time to refocus will allow you to have fresh eyes and reassess what you have written, reorganize, and edit better. It is paramount that your content flows well and doesn’t contain grammar and spelling errors, which can reduce the blog’s credibility. Always allow an outside set of eyes with grammar and spelling strengths to take a second look and make necessary proofreading corrections. After that, you are ready to post and promote. Writing your blog is only half of the equation; in order for potential clients to see and benefit from your content, it is vital that you choose where the best place to reach your target demographic is, both online and through your active social media platforms.

We get it – building and writing a business blog can seem like an extremely daunting task when you aren’t one of the few who love to write, but not having a blog can be a business marketing killer in this modern research- and consumer-driven market. Let us check this task off your to-do list with our team of professional content creators, who love to write engaging and shareworthy content. Meet the team today by getting hold of us at 701.757.2000.

As The Marketing World Turns

When it comes to marketing, staying in your comfort zone is no longer an option. Some things have stayed the same from the bygone era of Mad Men-esque marketing, such as standout and consistent branding, impeccable creative concepts, and truly understanding who your target customer is and what makes them sit up and take notice. However, what works in modern marketing is light-years away from that golden age before worldwide exposure was available at the click of a button. As the marketing world revolutionizes, innovative and interactive technology takes the lead in the way we communicate with others and encompass what is known as emerging media.

SMG-Blog-Divider1

Picture this: You’re away from home and want to pass the time by browsing the internet. But you land on a website that isn’t mobile-friendly, making it almost impossible to navigate on a smaller device. This can be frustrating, and maybe you’ll leave the website and find a new one that is more user-friendly. If your business’s website isn’t responsive already, you might be losing customers this way again and again. Having a responsive website is not only imperative to capture over 50% of web users who are using their mobile device to use the internet, it also affects your search results on Google, a vital aspect of recruiting potential new clients to your website. The number of people who use their mobile device to use the internet is still rising, and if you haven’t adjusted your sails to capture them, you might sink.

SMG-Blog-Divider2

YouTube isn’t just for cat videos and makeup tutorials; if you haven’t experienced the power of video marketing, you’re missing out. Video marketing is the latest and greatest form of marketing communication. From Facebook adding autoplay on videos in your newsfeed to giving customers a clear overview of your product in a quick, concise format, or changing your content blog format to a vlog (video blog) in order to increase engagement from different audiences, video marketing is at the top of the ‘what’s hot’ list in media these days. With 78% of people watching videos online every week and 64% of all consumer internet traffic coming from online video, this is a must-do to stay at the top of your marketing game.

SMG-Blog-Divider3

Besides having a solid, responsive website, having an app can be one of the most helpful tools for your business to divide and conquer the digital world of emerging media. From increased customer engagement to transactions, a well-designed app that focuses on user experience can be a vital tool for your business. In 2015, people spent twice as much time as 2014 on their smartphones and tablets, and Americans use apps more than PCs to access the internet. To take advantage of this mobile wildfire, you must focus on obtaining a loyal user base. First impressions are everything when it comes to emerging media, and you can increase customer loyalty and reduce support costs by starting with a well-designed app off the bat. If an app is chock-full of errors or non-intuitive, or doesn’t provide consumers with what they want, this will reduce customer loyalty and increase support costs to fix the complicated inner workings of poor design.

SMG-Blog-Divider4

Social media has been on top of the marketing mix for over 10 years, but more types of social media and constant updates to make existing platforms more user-friendly help this medium keep its spot on emerging media lists. With almost 65% of American adults using social networking, this has entered most people’s lives and the way they communicate and learn about the world. Although different generations tend to use social media differently, marketing on these platforms reaches a universal audience of ages, including 35% of adults 65 and older! You must choose your social platforms wisely to really reach your target audience in the sometimes overwhelming and definitely fast-changing social world. For instance, younger generations tend to favor the visuals and semi-privacy afforded by Instagram and Snapchat, a change from the openness and crowds found on Facebook and Twitter. If you are trying to reach an older, professional audience with your content and marketing, LinkedIn might be your best bet. No matter which platform is more appealing for your target demographic, the one thing your business cannot afford is to have an underwhelming social media presence or none at all.

As time marches on, emerging media marketing keeps going with no end in sight. Let us keep track of the latest and greatest ways to communicate and make your business a target market magnet. Contact us today at 701.757.2000.