December is here, and as we wrap up the end of the year and look forward to a new one, many of us are looking at our current budget as we plan for next year. However, as business owners in a fluctuating economy, taking a critical look at our budgets can be overwhelming. So, where do you put your dollars for the next year? How do you ensure you’ve effectively used up the rest of your budget for this year?
While we can’t predict the future (much as we’d like to), we do know that how you use your budget dollars for this year can either make or break your business next year, especially regarding marketing. So, if you have a marketing budget left for this year, why wouldn’t you use it to help get ahead in the new year?
And while you may be tempted to squirrel away any excess budget dollars for a rainy (or recession-y) day, that could do more harm than good. If you’ve got the budget now, invest it in the future of your business.
Let’s look at four ways to use your end-of-the-year marketing budget to make the beginning of your year even better!
1. Rebrand Your Look
Technology moves fast in our digital age, but aesthetics moves just as fast. Your look could be the thing holding your business back! While you might think changing the branding and look of your business is all about looks and trends, it’s actually an essential way to communicate with your customers, one you can’t afford to ignore.
Think of a well-known business you’ve seen rebrand at some point in your lifetime. I bet that when they first re-invented their look, it was probably controversial. Maybe they updated their slogan, changed the logo, or even changed the name of their business. Why the controversy? Well, because the old (read loyal) clientele feels left behind. The world is constantly evolving, but at least their favorite soda brand remains the same! So when something they love changes, it can be frustrating. Why do we have to cater to a younger generation? Why can’t they respect the old way? Oof… Now we’re heading into “get off my lawn, kid” territory.
Jokes aside, rebranding creates a new generation of loyal customers. We change our look to appeal to the demographic we can count on for the foreseeable future. As generations and culture shift, so does taste. Revamping your look isn’t about keeping up with trends so much as it is about inviting in a new generation of clientele who will become loyal. Think of it like that haircut you got in college. A fresh cut helped you see yourself in a new era of your story, so too, a new look can also signal to your customers that you’re entering a new era of business.
2. Update Your Website for the New Year
If you are going for a complete rebrand, your website is a great place to introduce that new image. But even if you do not need a fresh look, your website probably needs a good Spring cleaning! Now is a great time to comb through your site and make a note of everything that needs to be updated. Look at your event calendar, pricing, dates, business hours, address and phone numbers, staff headshots, and products. If it’s old information or out-of-date content, it’s time to clean it up. Think of your website as your online home. When you’ve got new people coming over, you want to make a good impression by having a well-kept place for them to get to know you.
And just like in your real home, if people can’t navigate through it, they’re probably going to leave. Often, websites can feel awkward, and information is hard to find. You have 5 seconds to grab the attention of someone new to your site, so if in those first 5 seconds they can’t find what they’re looking for, you’re going to lose business. Consider taking your website clean up a step further and streamlining the look and navigability of your site to capture the attention of your potential clients from the moment they enter.
Lastly, just as in any home, you also want those visiting to feel safe and that everything works as it should. Part of a website update is checking all the background tools that make your website function. Is your cyber security up-to-date? Are all plug-ins working? Do things link to where they should be linking to? Before you head into your new year, make sure your website is the best representation of your business possible!!
3. Create New Printed Material
While many businesses find they’re using less and less printed material, it’s still a good idea to have some physical materials to hand out to your clients or potential clients. Whether rebranding or simply cleaning house, looking at your current printed material is a great way to get a head start on the new year.
While we may use less printed materials in some industries, the pieces you do use can pack a more significant, strategic punch. Creative redesign on your printed materials can be the key to those printables turning into leads rather than being tossed. Some businesses have started printing QR codes on their materials. These handy and genius little things make it easy to convert paper advertising into digital advertising. A quick scan of your phone’s camera can bring up contact information, websites, landing pages, social media profiles, online forms, etc. If you can create a web link, you can link a QR Code. These codes are affordable (some are even free though less customizable) and a new way to help your business stand out.
Maybe you’ve got a calendar full of tradeshows or conferences coming up. Make sure your printables are updated and eye-catching and help you and your business stand out uniquely. Banners and business cards may seem like boring necessities for business, but they have the power to pack a punch. In a previous job of mine, our whole team had a folder of print material we thought stood out so we could use their idea for our organization. We saved everything from food wrappers at amusement parks to care instructions for eyeglasses. If the design is sleek, modern, and effective, your print materials can help communicate your business’s identity as an innovator to other companies (and potential customers) around you. Print material still impacts your business significantly, so taking the time to inventory all your printables and refresh them now will make a big difference in the new year!
4. Branch Out Your Social Media Content
There’s no question that digital marketing is the way of the future. But as I mentioned before, in a technology-based world, the ways we digitally market are ever-changing. As a result, you’re missing out on a potentially significant audience if you’re not using social media to market.
But just being on social media isn’t enough. With platforms like Tik Tok and Instagram focusing their energy on video-based content, if you’re not utilizing this feature, the algorithm could work against you. So if you advertise on social media, it’s a good idea to learn to use all the features these apps offer.
But more than that, you need to learn which of those features your audience connects to best. Some audience members will resonate with one kind of content over another, but finding the sweet spot of what works for you is vital in digital marketing. Figuring that out takes experimentation, an understanding of social media trends, reading analytics, and thinking outside the box. Have you tried doing some behind-the-scenes content? Are you capitalizing on stories? What about getting the whole team in on a goofy trending dance? Are you utilizing features like linking to products, polls, or Q&As? Social media marketing has so much potential to be effective and fun. Investing in some experiments on social media now can boost your new year interaction in a big way.
There’s no perfect way to market your products, but there is a way to find out what works perfectly for your business. As the year winds down, refreshing your marketing strategies could make all the difference in the new year. If you’ve got the budget and margin, why wouldn’t you use it to make next year your best one yet?
So if you’re ready to partner with a team of creative experts who are there to help your business thrive today and tomorrow, our team at Pulse Marketing would love to hear from you!