Your Marketing Budget is Not Unnecessary Spending
Over the past three months,
household budgets have been reevaluated and unnecessary spending has been brought to a halt. The same has happened with budgets at businesses, both small and large, local and international.
But what really falls into the category of unnecessary spending? In someone’s personal budget it may mean not eating takeout when there are cabinets full of food at home, or skipping the monthly pedicure (actually, we haven’t had a choice but to skip the pedicure the last few months). For a brand, company or business, it might mean waiting a little longer to replace old but working equipment, or putting a hold on stocking the breakroom with snacks.
Web Chat Audio: Budget
Unnecessary spending may be different from business to business, but there’s one thing that should not be thought of as unnecessary spending — your organization’s marketing budget. Don’t keep your marketing budget locked up until you see how things pan out. Use it. If you don’t, your customers will suffer, because your marketing budget and marketing team directly affect your customers’ experience.
And since COVID-19, customer experience has become more important than ever. During these times of social distancing, disrupted supply chains and increased angst and anxiety, traditional marketing channels and tactics may not be getting the job done in delivering a customer experience that will help brands survive and thrive.
That’s not to say that marketing is the ONLY thing that affects customer experience. Your marketing strategy should work for your business, and that means it’s probably not the same as every other company’s, especially now.
Here’s my perspective on why it’s important to use your marketing budget to shift your focus where it needs to be – your customers.
Let’s start with a handy little visual.
Your Marketing Starts Here
- Customer Service
- Social Media
- Email Marketing
- Blog & Newsletter
- Storefronts and Office Interiors
- Vehicle Branding
- Speeches and Appearances
- Billboards & Print Ads
- Tradeshows & Events
Your Marketing Budget Ends Here
YOUR CLIENT EXPERIENCE
Customer experience is the new brand.
Now more than ever customers need their brands.
Their favorite brands, the ones that have won their loyalty after consistently delivering great customer experiences, offer them familiarity and comfort in these uncertain times. But while 80 percent of companies believe they are successful at delivering a great experience, the truth is that only 8 percent of customers agree with them.
Right now, your customer experience is likely to be different. It might take a little longer to get an order shipped and return policies may be stricter because of COVID-19 concerns. An intentionally different experience due to reasons such as these are OK, but an intentionally poor experience is not.
Your customers will not be as understanding if you don’t make every effort to tell them what has changed. Manage their expectations through thoughtful marketing to ensure a positive customer experience, even if that experience is a little different at the moment. Some ways you can use your marketing budget to keep your customers in the loop could include modifying the design of your website to allow for special messaging, including printed inserts in your outgoing packages, and creating hyper-personalized and targeted email campaigns.
The customer experience is built on interactions with your product, service or employees.
These interactions can happen anywhere
– in person, on your website, in a store, on social media and more – and customers expect the same level of experience no matter where it happens.
It’s not surprising that 89 percent of companies today are competing with each other primarily on the basis of customer experience. Companies that had always relied solely on the experiences of customers in their store or in-person and neglected other experience channels were in a tough spot at the beginning of this pandemic. Some still are, while some have been squeezing a lot of lemons (to make lemonade). You’ve seen local boutiques launch online stores in a matter of weeks and fine dining restaurants offering delivery and takeout.
In business-as-usual times, it’s easy to sit back and keep doing what’s working because you don’t have the time or need to invest in tools that encourage innovation or brand excellence. But as COVID-19 has shown us, when disaster strikes you might end up spending it anyway just to keep your doors open.
This is a moment in time when customer experience can make or break a business, so use your marketing budget to invest in innovation and enhancements. If you’re not sure where to start, conduct some research. Poll, survey or interview your customers to find out what they need and want from you. If you are a B2B company in a niche industry, customized research becomes even more important in identifying your audience’s current and emerging needs. Even if you only conduct five in-depth interviews with a sample of your existing or potential customers, it’s a start that can spark new thinking and innovation.
Most of these interactions, whether online or in-person, are made possible and supported by marketing.
If you are cutting back on your marketing budget,
you are cutting back on your customers’ experience, and they won’t like it. A recent study found that only 8 percent of customers expect brands to stop marketing right now, and if a brand does stop marketing, their customers will trust them less. In a time where we have all lost so much already, do you really want to lose your customers’ trust too? At the end of the day, your customers just want to connect with you, whenever and wherever they think they can.
As a brand, you need to keep striving to bridge the gap between your online and in-person experience and use your marketing budget to help pursue non-traditional channels and ideas that could make it happen.
Consider digital-focused projects like the ones detailed here to make the most out of the volume and frequency in which your customers are using your digital assets right now. For example, your website might be beautiful, but do you have an SEO strategy in place to drive new and qualified traffic there? Are you putting out valuable content on social media but lack the staff or strategy to communicate with customers directly on those same channels?
A strategically allocated marketing budget for the remainder of 2020 and beyond will go a long way to ensuring you can hold on to your customer’s trust and loyalty.
A Poor Customer Experience Will Cost You a Pretty Penny.
The impact of a project that improves or supports the customer experience, especially during the pandemic, will have a long-term positive effect on your customers and your brand. Pandemic and all, there is simply no excuse for under-delivering on the customer experience.
The team at Vela cares about the well-being of our customers and our customers’ customers. That is why customer experience is so important to us. If you need some creative thought and strategy around creating or improving your customers’ experience, we’re here to help.