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Ask a Marketer: How should I spend my marketing budget? Consider these 5 case studies

Start by asking yourself what the goal is, and be as quantitative as possible, Sean Sutherland advises.

(Image by Sean Sutherland)

This is Ask a Marketer by Sean Sutherland, who can help you figure out how to make the most of your marketing budget and time. As the chief marketing officer for Kapowza, a Baltimore-based creative agency, he’s seen it all. Here, he’ll share his hard-won advice from over a decade in the industry.

Ask Sean a marketing Q

Q: I have X dollars. How should I spend it on marketing?

A: Budget is often the limiting factor when considering any marketing effort. However, just because you can’t keep pace with how often Amazon or McDonalds are on the airwaves, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider an advertising or marketing spend. There’s always something you can do to be a better marketer, no matter what the bottom line budget is. You just need to know what the goal is.

When considering any marketing effort, you should always start with asking yourself what the goal is, attempting to be as quantitative as possible.

Be honest with yourself and keep in mind, each one of the sample goals below will lead me to suggest any number of different marketing tactics to employ, but each one also lends itself, naturally, to outlets and executions that you should avoid as well.

Common goals you might be focused on:

If you want to grow your social audience …

  • Lean toward the social media efforts including ads, and perhaps consider newsletters, while avoiding more of the traditional channels like print or broadcast. If you’re more of a cause or B2C bent, influencer marketing is definitely becoming a more advantageous and welcome opportunity for brands and companies.

If you’re looking to maintain and convert contacts into customers or fans … 

  • Please don’t spam your audience. Hitting them too many times with the same message or even messages that are off the mark, is a chance of losing them as a contact. You need to make sure you’re providing them with a good reason to care, and consistency within that realm will naturally lead them to become customers or fans.

If you’re looking to make a statement at an upcoming trade show …

  • I spent a good deal of my early years in Baltimore working trade shows for a leading home improvement company and I’ve seen it all: the gimmicks, the disinterested, and the truly great trade show talent. What matters now is less about crowding your booth with pop-up banners or generic stock photos, but more of a focus on engagement, telling a story, and standing apart from the crowd.

If you need to make some noise about a new product or service launch …

  • Consider working with local media and community events where you’re located when it’s time to launch, getting attention initially from your existing neighbors and audience who already are primed to understand and hear your message. Also consider how defined of an audience you can build through digital or social ads, if going after a new market.

If you want to improve conversions with your sales team … 

  • Storytelling is always an effective strategy in sales marketing. Make sure your sales team is up-to-date with success stories, client feedback and relatable industry experience. I’ve heard popping by randomly with a box of donuts might just not cut it anymore …

These are just a few examples and while, yes, a larger budget might help you reach these goals faster, starting today is never a bad option.

Take the time to determine what your goals are when you raise some funds or determine you’re in the right position to spend on marketing before running out and Googling yourself some help.

Undoubtedly, you’ll find no shortage of people that would be happy to alleviate you from your funds by engaging in what they do best, but make sure they also are aligned and understand what your goal is with this investment first.


If you have a burning marketing question you’re interested in getting answered, pop by our handy form to submit your query anonymously and Sean might just answer it. And stay tuned to the Ask a Marketer series page for future articles and announcements.

Ask Sean a marketing Q
Series: Ask a Marketer

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