How Should I Spend My Marketing Dollars in 2006?



Contact: Leora Lanz and Barbara Wiener

As we review sales and marketing initiatives for 2006, we all have the same goal: to increase market share and improve the bottom line.

In this fast-paced and competitive environment, there are more marketing tools and opportunities open to us than ever before, and the ways we will get there and how we will choose to allocate our dollars are indeed numerous. We are familiar with the traditional advertising that we have been using for the past 20 years. But with Internet marketing and e-commerce, the challenge for many will be to understand and keep up with the variety of new tactics and mediums available, and which ones make sense for reaching out to current and prospective customers.

May we suggest that you be open to experimenting and focus your budget on a select few new tactics to see how they work? New tools evolve everyday and trying out innovative and creative marketing methods is ok. Just don’t spread your marketing dollars too thin so that nothing is effective.

Ever thought about advertising on cell phones or i-pods? On the treadmill’s screen display at the local health club? On the elevator monitor in a large downtown office building? What about electronic transit advertising? Pick a couple of tactics and focus on them. If they don’t work, try something else. There are many choices!

If you haven’t already, consider trying the e-newsletter and see how that works. Promotional e-mail blasts and e-newsletters – proven sales tools for many – are relatively simple and inexpensive to produce. Set a goal, track it in your reservation system and give it time to work. If it doesn’t meet your objective within a reasonable and measurable period – say, four or five months – then re-allocate the dollars and try something else.

In your Public Relations efforts, it may make sense to add a strategy that appeals to bloggers. It’s a whole new talkative, loud, and crowded world out there, and growing quickly (you may have already read an online travel journal about someone’s Christmas vacation and his or her stay at a particular hotel). Blogs are being read by more and more journalists. And they offer perspectives and insights which are being broadcast loudly. This is called “electronic word of mouth.”

Ultimately, your strategic plan should fulfill your vision and mission statements, but also ask yourself:

  • How well do we know our customer so that we are making the correct marketing decisions?
  • Do we want to look at less traditional advertising for this year and see how it works?
  • Are we being creative in our approach?
  • Do we understand the various tools and what they can accomplish?
  • Are we being selective in the tools we are choosing and giving them enough time and dollars to be successful?
  • Should we try public relations to get that all-important, third-party endorsement?
  • Are we abandoning a particular tool if need be and going on to try something else?

In the larger scheme, patience is required when it comes to putting your key message and brand positioning out there. Don’t abandon these too soon. It can take a full two to three years for the public to associate and retain your special message(s). Behind the scenes, you may be bored with them [the messages], but they still may be working at building relationships and creating awareness, and ultimately converting leads to sales.

There is no right or wrong answer as to how to spend your marketing dollars. But if you don’t keep up and try some of the new methods, you risk falling behind. HVS Marketing Communications can work with you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your current sales, marketing, and public relations plan(s); assemble a new and more comprehensive plan; or coordinate efforts to help you take advantage of some of the numerous opportunities at hand.