The Marketing Problem: when to start and how much to spend

The top problem that nearly all companies face with marketing today is simply not understanding marketing as a strategy.

The vast number of companies we mentor believe they just need to focus on building a brand and developing that first, then bring marketing on after they have a brand ready to go. Even at that point, most believe marketing can be accomplished with just weekly social media posts.

This result more often than not leads to an eventual pivot because the service pricing is wrong or the competition is changing the game. At the end of the day, the marketing just isn’t there.

Marketing needs to be a foundational aspect of the brand strategy, it’s as important as the location and service offered. Hard questions need to be answered around 1) is the service needed in your area? 2) does the service provide viable and worthy differentiators? 3) has the pricing model been strategically vetted? 4) does the Serviceable, Obtainable Market provide a feasible market size?

The final aspect of marketing that companies need to get a solid understanding around is brand awareness. Market intelligence tells us that Top of Mind companies (those that spring to mind immediately) win business 85% of the time. Those under the Unaided Awareness banner (if you think a few more minutes these companies come to mind) win only 10% of the time, while Aided Awareness companies only win by extreme price breaks.

Successful companies will build from brand awareness to third-party credibility, to thought leadership (think Kendra Scott). This is a major part of a business and requires sufficient budget and time. It’s more than a logo and tagline with Facebook ads. If you don’t have a budget for marketing, readjust and rethink before you have to pivot. While saying you pivoted has become a somewhat acceptable excuse, it still really means you failed and wasted a large amount of money. Prepare, research and plan with marketing in mind and you can keep more money and generate real revenue much faster.

Even with everything going right, it might be hard to determine exactly what your budget should be — or how much to allocate for this level of marketing each year.

Traditionally companies will allocate 10% of overall yearly net revenue to maintain existing brand awareness and sales. As a rule of thumb, B2C companies will double or triple that amount depending upon the competitive landscape. This style of strategic marketing activity snowballs over time, delivering exponentially increasing returns the longer the tactics are underway in a coordinated, diversified fashion that covers the right audiences with the right messages.