Business owners get it. Marketing is important and usually gets a big chunk of the total budget. Why? Because without consistent and continual marketing, a company does not keep its current customers and attract new ones. Large companies spend huge amounts on marketing because they can afford it. For small or medium-sized business, and especially for those that are relatively new, budgets for marketing are more contracted.
Fortunately, content marketing has “evened out the playing field” somewhat, because it can be accomplished at a more reasonable cost than, let’s say, a TV advertising blitz. Still, a content marketing budget has to be developed, and dollars have to be stretched. To allocate dollars well and to get the best ROI on a content marketing budget, here is what you should know and do.
1. Set Up Your Budget Based Upon Content Media You Intend to Use
Let’s suppose that you have a budget of $12,000 per year to spend on content marketing. Now that’s not a lot, but how you use it determines how effective your campaigns will be. You can spend that money on outsourcing, and you can spend some of it using in-house staff, let’s say 24 hours a month of your time, to manage your campaigns. Now, you have decided you want infographics, video, photos, and written content.
2. Determine What Must be Outsourced and What can be Done by You or In-House Staff
Of the 4 mediums you intend to use, your scenario might look like this:
- Infographics will need to be outsourced, for no one on your team has the expertise in graphic design to create stunning ones. Contact a number of individual designers or companies and get an estimate on how much a single infographic will cost – determine if they charge by the hour or by the project. Generally speaking, you are better off paying a set fee for a project, because if you want revisions, you are not racking up additional cost. These can be pretty pricey.
- Written Content: This can be pretty pricey too, especially if you outsource it and there is a lot of research to be done. You will need to carefully plan you content writing expenditures, first determining how much of it you can do in-house or yourself. E-books, E-guides, and white papers take time and money to produce, if they are to look professional. On the other hand, some of the written content can be created by you or a team member who is an excellent writer. And if you are good at coming up with topic ideas and writing in an engaging way, then you really only need to outsource for an editor, not a writer. Part of stretching that marketing dollar is doing as much as you can yourself.
- Video: Most companies do outsource, although the trend is changing somewhat. Now great video can be taken with a high-end iPhone. And for posting on our blog or social media page, you may be able to shoot the video yourself and only pay for editing.
- Photos: These can also be expensive if you use a professional photographer. Again, however, iPhones take great photos, and if you are publishing photos of your products or your team at work or play, then you can easily do your own photos. In most high-end phones, there are filters, and there are apps that can be downloaded and used to edit those photos.
3. Allocate Your Funds
You have $12,000. As an example, suppose you allocate in the following ways:
- Choose to produce two infographics at $1500 each = $3000
- Produce two e-guides, e-books, or white papers @ $1800 each = $3600
- Contract with an editor to clean up and polish the content you write – maybe a single blog post each week @ $50 per post = $2600
- Hire a professional writer to craft one great article a month that you can place on other sites @ $50 per article = $1800
You have now allocated $11000 of your $12000 budget, which leaves $1000 discretionary money for additional marketing strategies – either buying tools or apps so you can do more in-house, or paying someone for a bit more content
4. Manage Your Time Well
Remember you have allocated 24 hours a month of your time to content marketing. If you manage that 24 hours a month well, here is a sample of what you can do:
- You will spend 2 hours a week writing a blog post and then paying your employed editor to polish it.
- Spend about 5 hours a month managing project you have outsourced, approving them, asking for revisions, etc.
- One hour per week should be devoted to your social media platforms. You need to write “teasers” to your blog post or perhaps publish some great photo of customers or out team.
- Spend about 15-20 minutes a day, checking conversations on your blog about your most recent post, comments on Facebook and other pages, and respond to those comments. Keeping customers engaged with you is a huge marketing tool and costs very little
- Spend about 1 hour each month doing the analytics and tracking the content that has been most popular and shared. This is going to determine budget allocations to specific mediums in the future
- Keep your eyes open and identify those on your team who are good writers. You can use them periodically for a blog post or an article and cut down costs of outsourcing.
5. Allocate Your Extra Funds
One of the things you can do with your extra $1000 is purchase some paid advertising on ads – Facebook, LinkedIn – or promoted tweets, or pay to put some of your content on sites related to your niche. If you have a good following on any of these platforms, then it makes sense, because that is obviously where your target market hangs out.
6. Do What You Can for Free
Setting up reciprocal agreements with other site owners for posting each other’s content or for placing advertising takes only the time you can allocate to locating them and proposing those agreements – not a budget item at all.
7. Measure, Measure, Measure
Get the right analytics tools to measure the effectiveness of each medium you are using. Where are you getting the biggest bang for your buck, and what medium does not seem to be giving the best return. Further, if you have used paid advertising of any kind, has it been effective? Measure the results from every dollar you have spent and use those results to plan next year’s budget.
While a small marketing budget may be discouraging, you can do a lot with it if you slice up those dollars well.