3 Marketing Budget Tips Most Agencies Won't Tell You

3 Marketing Budget Tips Most Agencies Won't Tell You

A good marketing agency is second to none. They provide expertise, creativity and an abundance of other resources to… elevate brands—see what I did there? (wink)

But not all agencies are created equal. For the most part, marketing agencies don’t take the appropriate amount of time to create a custom scope of work based on data and relationships. It’s usually the same one every other client gets. At Elevate My Brand (EMB), we do our best to “take the ego out of marketing” by taking clients through our Discovery process to define their marketing needs and share tips and tricks that other agencies keep to themselves.

Our top-secret marketing budget tips

The first question we hear is almost always, “What should I know about marketing budgets?” Well, here are three marketing budget tips we’re not afraid to share for free!

1. Don’t be afraid to say “no.”

Yep, we’re starting out big because that’s what we do here at EMB. Oftentimes, marketing agencies are overflowing with solutions and they love to put them all in the budget. But the truth is that not all brands are the same. What works for one doesn’t work for another, so the marketing solutions have to be specific to the brand’s needs.

Don’t be afraid to flex your “veto power.” While marketing agencies are there to grow your brand, you don’t need to say “yes” to everything they suggest. You know your fiscal capabilities and responsibilities better than anyone. Inform your marketing team of your top priorities that directly align with your objectives. It’s important to make them aware of your needs and boundaries at the beginning of the relationship so you don’t have to be prepared for “scope creep.” (And if a marketing agency isn’t willing to budge on the budget, then that’s an agency red flag!)

Focused spending almost always outweighs scattered investment. Before saying yes to any service, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does this directly contribute to my marketing goals?

  2. Is there a more cost-effective way to achieve the same outcome?

  3. Can I test this approach on a smaller scale first?

Working strategically with your agency can ensure that your limited resources are going towards the most impactful marketing initiatives.

2. Embrace testing and learning

We can’t stress enough. Our biggest campaign successes come from deciding what we need to know, devising smart tests and then building a high-velocity A/B testing campaign to see the results. Marketing is anything but static; it is an ever-changing machine that requires maximum input. You may think you know what you need right now, but trends and audiences change. Instead of allocating the annual marketing budget upfront—unless there’s already a working relationship with the marketing agency—think of it as an ongoing experiment. Be sure to consider the ad spend ramp-up in your marketing budget.

Since social media ads are always a topic of conversation, here’s a little bit of our secret sauce to show you what that looks like:

  1. Begin with smaller campaigns across targeted social channels. We recommend the Meta family of platforms (e.g. Facebook and Instagram) because it’s the most economical place to start and those platforms already have lots of juicy user data so you can ramp up faster.

  2. Track your KPIs and analyze them. Many social media platforms have built-in tools to show data and performance, but it’s best to have one source of truth that houses all of your marketing metrics.

  3. Allocate resources based on the results. If one ad set is outperforming the others, clip the bad and put your budget behind the good. When you think you have the secret combo of images and messaging, launch that ad on a social platform that most aligns with your brand to maximize your ROI.

3. Leverage free tools

There are a wealth of free and low-cost marketing analytic tools that grant you insights into how to allocate your marketing budget, including social media schedulers and website analytics dashboards. These resources are incredibly effective in complementing the agency services and filling in the gaps. One of our main recommendations when it comes to web data is implementing Google Analytics on your site. If you haven’t done this yet, do it now. Like, right now. 

Here are some other ways you can use complementary marketing tools to your brand’s advantage:

  1. Sign up for social media management platforms like Hootsuite, Iconosquare and Buffer to plan and publish content in advance. This saves you time and effort without the overwhelming feeling of having to come up with great content on the spot.

  2. Use online graphic design software like Canva to create engaging visuals from templates. Although hiring a graphic designer is always ideal, sometimes it’s easier and more economical for startups and small businesses to DIY for a bit. Upgrade your account for $12.00 a month to make the most of the platform.

  3. Tap into the Google suite of services, such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google Merchant Center, etc. These grant you access to a plethora of metrics that can guide your spending and reduce the stress of manual research.

Taking control of certain aspects of your marketing allows you to free up budget for a more targeted agency approach when you’re ready for the next iteration of elevation.

Sheria James,
Account Director

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