A Simple Approach to Prioritizing Marketing Investments

Most industrial marketers are busy prioritizing their marketing investments for 2022. If you’re behind in getting started, it’s not that difficult to catch up when you follow this four-step process:

  1. Measure your marketing results in 2021 to date
  2. Use ROI evidence to plan for 2022
  3. Account for special conditions
  4. Prepare to justify your budget requests

1. Measure Your Marketing Results in 2021 to Date

Every company has its own way of measuring ROI. There’s no one correct way to do it. Some companies use a formula that track sales in relation to marketing expenditures or leads that become customers. Other companies account for a prospect’s every marketing touch throughout their buying journey. Some calculate ROI for each individual program.

However you track ROI, you should try to avoid a common measuring mishap: Attributing a sale solely to the first or last marketing touch.

The first marketing touch brings the prospect into your universe and the last marketing touch precedes the sale. However, a prospect likely interacts with your company, content, and campaigns in multiple ways before making a purchase decision.

If you can’t measure how every marketing touch contributes to a sale, at least measure the popularity of your programs. Clicks, page views, ad impressions, downloads, comments, shares, email opens—these are all ways to measure engagement with your marketing and the popularity and value of your content. This will give you some sense of how well these programs perform and contribute to ROI.

2. Use ROI Evidence to Plan for 2022

If a program is performing well for you in 2021, chances are it will continue to deliver benefits as long as your audience hasn’t changed, and market conditions aren’t dramatically different.

For example, if you had good results from advertising in a newsletter, make this program a priority again. You will likely want to refresh your creative and possibly look for similar newsletters that can reach your target audience.

Programs that have been disappointing in 2021 may need to be scrapped, or you may want to do more research first. Did you give the program enough time to gain traction? Are you confident you measured its results accurately? Did you reach the right target audience, but your message didn’t resonate?

It’s in this step that you lay out your 2022 priorities based on this past year’s results. Once that’s done you massage those priorities.

3. Account for Special Conditions

Here’s where your priorities might get rearranged a bit. If your company is recalibrating its business goals, then marketing priorities will change as well.

Perhaps you have a significant product launch coming in 2022. Your company might be planning to enter a new market or leave an underperforming one. If a merger or acquisition is in the cards, it would certainly affect marketing priorities.

By accounting for business goals and special conditions, you can not only come up with a better marketing plan, but you can also demonstrate to executives who must approve your budget that you have your finger on the pulse of your company’s goals and the market situation.

4. Prepare to Justify the Marketing Budget

To justify your marketing budget, you must be able to project the results of your marketing programs. The best indicator of future ROI is past performance. Any changes you’ve made should be defended based on revised business goals, better audience targeting, or better marketing channels fit for your objectives.

It’s also helpful to propose three different budgets, demonstrating you understand that uncertainty always exists, and markets are always fluid. 

  • Best-case scenario—if business is robust, what is your best-case budget and how will you allocate it to achieve your marketing goals?
  • Worst-case scenario—if the economy drags or markets suffer, what are the bare-bones marketing priorities that you must continue to fund? Such as your company website or your email campaigns.
  • Realistic scenario—Chances are neither the best nor worse cases will come to be. Prioritize your marketing investments for 2022 around the most likely situation, and you’ll still be ready to make changes as needed because you’ve already modeled different scenarios.

When planning for 2022, you want to make sure you cover all of your bases. Download our 2022 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit for the perfect guide to crafting a marketing plan that best targets your audience and grows your business

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Three Ways to Prioritize Your Marketing Investments

Now is a good time to make a few tweaks to your marketing programs for the last quarter and to begin marketing planning for next year. In both cases, you should prioritize your marketing investments in a way that allows you to use multiple tactics to maximize your exposure and opportunities for engagement opportunities. The other goal to keep in mind is reaching your prospects and clients at every stage of the buying cycle.

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Here are three different approaches to consider when prioritizing your marketing investments. Choose the one that works best for you, or create a hybrid approach that takes advantage of elements from each.

1. Prioritize based on objectives
Your marketing objectives probably include both raising brand awareness in the markets you serve and generating engagement opportunities with clients and prospects. Some channels are proven effective at meeting both objectives. These include webinars, online catalogs, online events, tradeshows and e-newsletters. Channels that tend to be low in both brand awareness and engagement opportunities are general search engines, print directories, and rented e-mail and direct mail lists.

2. Prioritize based on audience behavior
Technical professionals have more digital tools and sources of information than ever before to do their jobs better and more efficiently. They are also exposed to more companies and have many options when ready to buy. Therefore, you can no longer rely on a limited portfolio of online channels to achieve the marketing results you are looking for. For instance, it’s not enough to put most of your resources into your company website. Instead, try to broaden and deepen your online presence to engage your audience in ways that match their searching and sourcing preferences.

When researching a specific work-related purchase, the top three channels technical professionals use are search engines, online catalogs and supplier websites. However, your audience uses many other digital channels to keep up with the latest technologies, product news, companies and brands—all of which influence their buying decisions. E-newsletters, industry-focused websites, social media, online events and webinars are all important industry information sources for your customers.

3. Prioritize based on the buy cycle
For many companies, the industrial buy cycle is long and complex, involving multiple stages, from needs assessment to comparison and evaluation, to a final purchasing decision that may be influenced by recommendations from multiple stakeholders within a company. In the vast majority of cases, buyers will interact with your company’s content and brand many times and through multiple channels, often without contacting you, before they make a purchasing decision.
Therefore it is essential that you have a highly visible and uninterrupted presence on those channels your customers favor during the early, research-oriented buy cycle stages. These are the channels buyers favor: e-newsletters, online events, webinars and online catalogs. By taking advantage of these channels you increase your opportunities to connect with potential customers early on, so that they keep you top of mind when ready to make a purchasing decision.

Try Something New
The industrial marketing landscape is constantly changing. If you’ve been using the same marketing channels over the past year or longer and haven’t achieved your goals, it may be time to try something new. The fourth quarter is a good time to experiment. It’s not a high-risk proposition. Try sponsoring an online event. Or raising brand awareness through banner advertising on industrial sites. You could even combine several tactics. For example, place ads in industry-specific e-newsletters to increase attendance at an upcoming webinar.
Work with your media partners to evaluate new ideas and choose a tactic or two that fits best with your objectives and your overall marketing portfolio.

Get the Marketing Planning Kit
Each year, IHS GlobalSpec publishes the Industrial Marketing Planning Kit that includes analysis of the industrial market and channels, worksheets to analyze your current marketing mix, and recommendations on developing marketing strategies that target engineers and technical professionals. The 2015 version just came out and you can download your complimentary copy. The 2015 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit is one tool you don’t want to be without when it’s time to prioritize your marketing investments.

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How do prioritize your marketing investments? What advice would you give to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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