Jan. 30th, 2007

Put Some Mortar in Your Plan: 10 Tips for Building the Perfect Marketing Budget in 2007.

Alain Thy’s “7 Secrets of a Good Marketing Budget” on FutureLab inspired me to share some of the things we’re advising our clients to consider this year:

1. Continue to cut back on traditional advertising channels — but don’t simply pour every penny saved into impressions and clicks. Organizations of all types are moving the savings into PR as well. Even though it is more challenging to draw a direct line between anticipated sales and increased media outreach, there is a reason the PR industry is enjoying one of the biggest booms since the dot comm crash. In the battle for the hearts and minds of cynical consumers Earned Media is even more influential than Paid. (See this recent post for details of tying PR outreach to shopping cart success).

2. Don’t depend too heavily on the Web. “As online budgets
grow, more advertisers will flock to the Web,” affirms Thys. No wonder
online costs are skyrocketing. Efficiency is sure to plummet soon. The
truth is that few marketers are overdoing it on the Web, right now.
However, competition is coming. And traditional methods still work.
Apple, for instance, does very little online, opting instead for major
outdoor. Seek balance in thy communications plan.

3. Refine search. Consider:

–    Expand search Pay Per Click to include branded initiatives.
–    Compensate for poor organic listings by buying your own name (heresy).
–    Make sure to follow lead generation success through to actual sales.
–    Be wary of CPA or CPL calculations as they rarely tell the whole story.

  Consider purchasing long tail keywords in adjacent, less competitive
areas (we’ve had success with cheap clicks on keyword “stealth” in driving traffic to our Branding site, Mortar360).

  Bulk up on free keyword impressions. Yup. Unclicked keyword
impressions are still free. But keywords ads that no one clicks on can
still be seen and read. Few advertisers are taking advantage of
Google’s willingness to build their brands for nothing. That deal
certainly can’t last.
–    Keep working on SEO. Just like earned coverage, great organic rankings are the gifts that keep giving.

4. Develop new metrics so you don’t fall into the trap of Click Thru Blindness (CTB).
Too many web marketers allow their thinking to be clouded by the
obviously causal nature of the Internet. Yes, you can follow users
through the click stream to results, but the same logic simply does not
apply to broadcast GRPs. Don’t become the all too common CTB CEO by
insisting every dollar spent must be justified in a spreadsheet.
Resist the urge to .xls offline media. It is futile and unnecessary.
Savvy marketers develop metrics for all three phases of the marketing
mix—action, awareness and engagement–and analyze each according to its
individual merits.

5. Allocate 10% to something different. Thys says it. We
concur. Google snatched up YouTube after just 18 months of operation.
The Next Big Thing is right around the corner. Have some dollars put
aside to catch the wave.  Needs some ideas:

–    Build a Second Life store.
–    Explore branded content.
–    Roadblock a top site.
–    Invest in inflatables. P
–    Put some ads in a game or two.
–    Join a consortium of non competitive advertisers.
–    Get invited to the nearest thing to Davos on the West Coast: TED.
–    Make people laugh (like this promo from …)
–    Change it up.

6. Make internal alignment a priority. Great ideas are often
born quickly, but die a slow death contorted on the rack of constant
review and endless discussion. Allocate time and resources to making
sure your colleagues understand what you are trying to achieve, and
focus them on participation not demolition. Oh, and for heavens sake
don’t put HR in charge of communication synergy. It’s your brand, and
you need to be the one to make sure that everyone in the organization
lines up behind the party line.

7. Take a serious look at blogging software. See it for what
it is: a gloriously simple system for enlisting your colleagues in
publishing thousands of custom web pages. We cut 80% off a web
development project recently by persuading a client to move his
Internet business to run-of-the-mill blogging software.  What cost
hundreds of thousands of dollars last year can now be had for mere
pennies. The power to develop, publish, distribute and maintain web
pages is yours for the taking.  Delegate. Delegate. Delegate. (Start
with setting up a demo account here with idiot-proof blog software from

8. Say no to pointless research. We’re all guilty of it. The
endless decks and the oh-so-nuanced findings that seem so rich and yet
fail to spur change. By all means spend time with your customers. In
fact, resolve to talk to them more than you did last year. But mix it
up. Set up engagement sessions. Require top executives to rub shoulders
with customers and prospects and the loyal fans of your biggest rivals.
Refuse to sit behind a two-way mirror, gorging on M&Ms and making
snide comments about respondents. Instead, immerse yourself in your
market—and put time aside to analyze the implications of what they tell

9. Revisit last year’s brief. Great creative briefs rarely go
out of fashion. But tastes and personnel change. And your rivals won’t
sit on their hands forever. Reinvigorate your marketing program by
gathering your core team together—executives, agency, advisors,
sales—to re-examine the implications of what you have agreed to do. And
if you haven’t already try a little a humility. Take this recent commercial for eSurance starring the winsome Erin and Space Ghost.

10. Don’t separate, integrate. Why spend time and money
managing the inevitably conflicting perspectives of people who spent
most of their school years bucking authority? Combine initiatives.
Shorten your supply lines. Throw out the middlemen. Toss your toughest
problems at small, interdisciplinary teams of people with a broad mix
of communications experience and a desire to work together to make
something great. Make sure they sit next to one another and pay
attention to their recommendations. In 2007, success will go to simple
messages executed well across multiple platforms. (Yes, this is a
shameless plug for the Mortar. Read more here.)


  • Jan. 30th, 2007

    Tim sent me this comment via email:
    I agree somewhat.
    I’d go a little further with point #2, though. Traditional media DOES still work. In addition to a substantial outdoor budget, Apple spends a ton of money on broadcast (and it works. Consumer recall of the Mac vs. PC ads is extremely high). Apple understands that there isn’t a single silver bullet–a single medium that’s gonna work. Pouring everything online is a pretty stupid proposition if you’re trying to build a mainstream consumer brand. After all, the Web is still not the best medium for mass market branding. It’s just part of the puzzle.
    I’m not even sure I agree with cutting back on traditional advertising channels. It’s really about using them more wisely. Making sure they work together much more closely than ever before. Think about how Apple repurposes its Mac vs. PC broadcast spots for the Web etc.

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