Today, if you’re a business owner or a corporate communications director, it can be difficult to determine where exactly to spend your limited marketing budget. First, if you don’t know how much money you should be spending on promotion annually, the 10%-15% rule is in effect, regardless of the size of you business. That means you should plan to utilize about 10-15% of your annual budget for marketing and promotion of your business, products and/or services.
Next, there’s the question of where to put those dollars. There used to be a time when expensive, traditional print and broadcast advertising were the only way to go. Today, however, you can get so much mileage out of social media advertising – hitting larger, more micro-focused audiences – that a smart mix of digital and traditional is likely the way to go – depending on your target audiences, of course.
For example, if you targets include Millennials – Instagram promotions, Snapchat filters and Facebook boosts may make the most sense. If you’re targeting retirees and/or Baby Boomers, then a mix of Facebook advertising and traditional print and broadcast may fit the bill. Think about where your targets consume most of their information and how they make purchasing decisions – then create a smart mix to hit them in those places.
For social media, you can still get pretty good reach on Twitter – for example – through smart usage of tags and hashtags, video and by following the right targets daily to get a solid “follow back” – and these things cost $0. However, on Facebook, it’s nearly impossible to get any exposure on a business page anymore without spending money. Facebook is down to about a 5% (if you’re lucky) organic reach from your business page – meaning even if you worked hard to gain 500 people who “like” your page, only 5% of them are seeing your posts. For Facebook, we recommend spending a couple hundred dollars per month. If you page following is lower than you’d like, use that money initially to boost your page (and therefore increase your follower base) – then when your page following is agreeable to you, switch that money over to boosting individual posts, your website, events, etc. That will ensure that the audience you’ve built see what you want them to. Also, if you’re going to incorporate video (which you should on EVERY social media platform – as it’s the best way to attract eyeballs on social) – be sure to house that video content on Facebook itself – versus using a link from YouTube for example. Video that housed on the platform always gets more views than video housed somewhere else.
Then there’s ‘PR’ – public relations – which is earned promotion in publications, on websites, blogs, and other news outlets. And while it doesn’t cost money to pitch an article in a publication or on a TV news program, it does cost manpower and possibly the services of a third-party PR agency to make those placements happen. There is significant benefit to utilizing PR to boost you business. Ultimately, PR is the art of communicating effectively with your target audiences through earned media and other content-based strategies. Electronic newsletters, e-blasts, news articles, interviews, op-eds, case studies, speaking opportunities – all fall in the “PR” category. And social media content DEFINITELY does. So when it comes to the old delineation between “Marketing” as paid promotion and “PR” as earned promotion, the lines are definitely blurred these days. For example, while we are a PR agency, we do manage advertising spends on social and electronic media on behalf of our clients, because that is the best way to get the content we create seen by those audiences.
So – bottom line – the term “Marketing” these days (at least in our opinion) isn’t an “either/or” proposition anymore. Marketing, PR and smart communications (which will likely also include some paid advertising) are all in the same toolbox now for businesses looking to reach their target audiences. So consider all the options before planning your marketing for the coming year. There are no cookie cutter solutions for marketing anymore. The good news is that there are SO many fantastic tools available to us now that reaching your customers, stakeholders and prospects has never been easier!