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But I Saved Us Money

Industries: Associations, Professional Services

Despite all the glorious advancements in our society, some things never change. One of the biggest? You get what you pay for. This includes everything from clothes, cars, house repairs, to the quality of your food and dining experience at your favorite restaurants. Oh, yes – and marketing plans, branding and communications campaigns.

One of the most common mistakes made by foundations, associations and non-profits is beginning a marketing project or campaign focused solely on trying to save money instead of asking what will help achieve the goals and initiatives you have set.

Finances will always be a factor but trying to be a hero or make a good impression on your investors or board members by pinching pennies should not be the main motivation behind your marketing approach, or it is destined to fail. When a marketing communications campaign is planned and executed well, it’s rare you will ever be asked how much you spent.

The key is to understand why you’re developing a new initiative in the first place, and work with an agency that fully understands your goals and how to reach them.

Has saving money ever worked?

Besides the fact that champagne taste on a beer budget never (ever) happens, there are a few reasons why prioritizing savings over the right plan and professional implementation for your initiatives won’t work.

  1. You don’t know your objectives: You don’t always know what your objectives are, even if you think you do. Lots of companies create a preliminary marketing plan internally, then ‘list off’ what needs to be done to their marketing agency. But that’s not how it should work. A big part of your agency’s role is to use their expertise and research to determine, based on your stated goals, what your objectives really should be and make recommendations for how to achieve them.
  2. You’re still thinking in terms of the recession: The most recent recession skewed our perception of cost and value. During the economic downturn, budgets got slashed and employees who saved their foundation, association or non-profit money were lauded as heroes. To be sure, these efforts rescued many jobs and even kept some doors from closing permanently. However, they also created a collective tendency to put money first, and above all else. Many successful foundations, associations and non-profits that had the vision and resolve to invest in their success actually spent more on marketing and communications and moved to the top of their fields because of their efforts.
  3. You’ve heard from someone else that this is what it costs: Your friend told you all about her company’s new, successful marketing campaign and what it cost. You think to yourself, ‘Since we want to basically do the same thing, it should cost us the same.” Nope. There are dozens of factors that affect the bottom line. Things like, your current marketing and branding strategies, timeline and strategic goals will all cause significant fluctuations in what you should budget to achieve success.

Develop a plan and budget you really need

Work with your agency and use their expertise and resources to craft a plan specific to your needs and goals. When working with your agency, be sure to:

  • Give them access to your budget: A marketing department should always work with a budget, which needs to be crafted with the sole intention of helping to grow the foundation, association or non-profit’s efforts. People tend to guard budgetary information like a national secret, terrified that if they reveal a number, they will be ripped off. But in reality, keeping silent isn’t doing you any favors. Agencies truly don’t know how they can help you unless they’re given at least a ballpark figure. If you don’t have a budget, or don’t know what a certain project or campaign would cost, just ask.
  • Ask for help: You hired an agency that has a proven track record, so let them do what you hired them to do. A good agency will never step in front of you, but work with you, allowing the spot light to shine on your achievements. Doesn’t it feel good to take one more thing off of your plate?
  • Focus on measurable specifics: ‘Get more funding’ or ‘Growing our membership’ aren’t measurable marketing objectives; they’re vague goals. To create an effective marketing plan, focus on concise objectives. These objectives are the only way to measure the success of your marketing efforts, a process called ‘Return On Objectives’ (ROO). Sharing your thorough list of precise goals will not only give you actionable results, but save you a lot of pennies in the long run. Measurable results and ROO are what your plan will be judged by, so it’s best to put the end before the beginning, always think how you can show success not just guess. And in turn, your budgeting conversations will go from ‘no way’ to ‘how much more is needed’.
About Moire Marketing Partners

Moiré Marketing Partners is a strategic branding and design communications agency that specializes in creative marketing for a business advantage.