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On Marketing: Is your marketing an investment or an expense?

by Josh Gordon Published: October 10, 2016 1:12 PM

If you see your marketing as an expense, it's just a line item on your budget. That's about it.

You know you need to do marketing, so you pay for some. It's not a daily thought, it's not something you check up on a lot, it's just something that gets done. A task to complete.

If you see your marketing as an investment, it's central to your success. You are not just investing the necessary money to build a great message and promote your business, you are devoting time to overseeing it and providing input. You are making a surprise appearance at your agency to review materials in draft form because this stuff matters. You are measuring its success and optimizing your digital efforts, but you are focused on improving your marketing and your business.

You are doing what it takes to be the best.

As I evaluate businesses, it's easy for me to see the difference between an expense-based marketing approach and an investment-based marketing approach.

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Your audience -- and customers -- can see the difference, too.

You can decipher the difference, too. There are a lot of telltale signs, many of which are easy to find in a company's social media presence.

A recent survey, filled with data from over a thousand respondents, quantified what makes for an "annoying" brand on social media. Here are a few of the reasons people stop following companies on social media:

18 percent because the company doesn't post enough.

25 percent stop because the company never replied to a message they left on their page.

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35 percent stop because the company has no personality.

41 percent because the content the company shares isn't relevant to what the audience wants.

57 percent of people stop following a company on social media because they post too many promotions.

All of these reasons are hallmarks of an expense-based approach to marketing: easy content, lack of knowledge of the target audience, too self-serving, etc.

Well-thought-out content that is a blend of promotions and entertainment is what people want. I can prove it, too, with data from the same study about why people engage with a company on social media:

21 percent follow on social media when their friends do, too.

25 percent to communicate with the company.

42 percent because they post good offers.

51 percent because they are entertaining.

A whopping 73 percent because folks are just interested in the product or service

(By the way, this same survey found that 75 percent of people who are on social media made a purchase because of something they saw on a social media website.)

Your target audience is making decisions based on which approach you take.

Marketing with an expense-based philosophy is easy (and obvious). But how often is the easiest way the best?

Investing your money -- but more importantly your energy and time -- in your marketing makes a massive difference. If you are looking to kick start things as you plan for next year, take a long, hard look at your marketing, advertising, and communications.

Are taking an expense approach? If so, it's time to change.

Your growth depends on it.

Josh Gordon is an award-winning marketing communications professional and president of Full Spectrum Marketing, a full-service advertising agency with digital roots based in Kent, Ohio, and Wooster, Ohio. You can reach Josh at jgordon@fullspectrummarketing.com.

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