Where Should I Spend My Marketing Communications Dollars?

Most marketing communication budgets have either held the same or declined over the last few years.  The question today is not so much “how much do I have as a budget,” BUT what is the best mix to get the optimum return!

Note: this article is focused on business to business not business to consumer (spending on items like advertising and promotions are usually greater in the consumer market).

Sales People One primary communication method in the B2B world has been the sales person and their personnel selling efforts, but this method is not only very expensive but does not scale well. Suggest augmenting this with other communication tools.


Advertising’s primary contributions are to provide awareness and provide creditability for the vendor (if you do not believe me, seen all the Toyota ads lately!). It has been proven that sales and profits are better with advertising then no advertising at all. So make sure your advertising first supports the overall marketing strategy and is integrated with other marketing activities. Lastly, if you do use advertising, make sure it will pass the “threshold” of awareness. Too often marketing managers start an ad campaign and don’t run it long enough to create awareness and thus those dollars were completely wasted. So if you don’t have enough in the budget to be successful, utilize the money somewhere else.

Direct mail or email campaigns:  Direct mail is good for promotions, supporting sales activities, and communication to your various channels. Emails can address the same issues with the added benefit of having a quick response or the ability to receive a request or answer a question in a very timely manner.  Again like advertising, one shot will NOT accomplish your goals, you need to contact with your targeted audience via multiple mailings.

Trade shows: Good place for a product or service introduction, speaking engagements, leads, and face to face with potential buyers. But given that, I believe trades how are actually on the decline, so I would highly recommend analyzing the benefits of being at a trade show versus its overall costs.

Seminars/Webinars:  A relatively inexpensive tools, especially if your goal is awareness, thought leadership or demonstrating a customer application.  You can have a “captured” audience and have follow ups with them.

Catalogs:  Are basically dying if not already dead, mainly because of the web and its ability to show products and services in a more robust manner, Web catalogs are less expensive and they can reach a far greater audience.

Social Media (Blogging, twitter, etc.) The use of these media by enterprises is growing every day.  Their primary purposes are for awareness, thought leadership, lead generation and getting feedback from the community. I would recommend as a minimum that enterprises at least “listen” to what your customers are saying about you and your products.

So, again, it is not how much one has, we are all painfully aware of that, but what the appropriate mix is.  You need to balance your marketing communication methods to optimize your returns.   This mix selection will vary depending on what phase your enterprise is current in and your overall goals.  A start-up might use the social media tools to generate awareness and creditability, while an established enterprise might rely on its sales team along with some direct/emails and seminars.

In any case I would suggest testing your mix on a selected sub segment and analyze the results and make any adjustments before going with the full programs.


RHL 8/24/10


2 comments to Where Should I Spend My Marketing Communications Dollars?

  • Jim Matorin

    I am not sure about the expense of trade shows anymore, especially the cost/energy of setting up and staffing a booth. Too much clutter to contend with. Attending/networking and presenting at a show a lot more effective use of time and energy. Displaying? A creative approach I notice is where companies go into a market, take out a conference room, set up and then have pre-arranged customers come over for a meeting/demo.

  • Odd that Social Media Marketing is “last” on your list. For most businesses (B2B and B2C) today the use of Social Media tactics has become a primary aspect of marketing plans. Smartphone growth and SM usage are off the charts; connectivity bridges all aspects of business and personal life. Digital marketing is relatively inexpensive at this moment and should be close to the top of the list for almost every business, not just start ups.

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