Marketing: Is It An Overhead Or An Investment?

August 11, 2014

It's a well-known fact: businesses often mismanage their brands by neglecting them. Doing so can damage everything; from top lines to bottom lines, prospects to long-term success. So why do brands do this to themselves?

I was reading an article on Businessweek.com over the weekend which discussed whether marketing is simply an expensive expense or whether it is, in fact, one of the best investments you'll ever make. The article gives some examples of tough questions brands need to ask themselves: Do you have clear objectives? Do you have a credible strategic positioning, and are you faithful to this in everything you do? Have you effectively integrated all of your plan's elements? Are you like a proud parent when you see your brand's campaigns?

Brand neglect is, the article says, nonsensical. Unlike your company's building, equipment and furniture - all of which depreciate in value over time - your brand will do the opposite; it can increase indefinitely, as long as it's well-managed.

Investing in lead generation is one of the best things a B2B brand can do. There are so many unique touch points in every brand's customer acquisition cycle that the right mix, of content, social, email, SEO, media etc. is paramount to getting it right. We have a bit of a mantra here with our clients: 'we will know where we are failing quickly' and we're not afraid to admit it; we won't allow a bad reputation or negative customer experience go unnoticed - from a mismatched piece of marketing communications because we are constantly measuring what we do against objectives proving the marketing investment. Generating B2B leads is not an exact science; each brand will require a different mix and what may work well in some industries will not necessarily produce the same results in others.

Marketing investments will continue to drive value and impact sales long after the cost is spent. It sounds like a cliché, but to win tomorrow, you need to invest today! A clear sign of when a business views marketing as an expense is when the marketing budget is the first to be hit after slumping sales; those who see marketing as a "non-essential luxury" when times are good, rather than thinking of it as a driving force of growth and stability. This is often the cause of arguments between managers and marketing departments: the battle of the mindset.

It all boils down to a fundamental attitude which we have, and share with our clients. We view marketing as something which generates business, rather just supporting it. An investment, not an overhead. The most dramatic evidence of this came from one of our clients who we had worked with to get marketing driving business at an ROI of 10:1. They were hit by a natural disaster, and had to cut spending dramatically for business reasons, including marketing. Overnight, all inbound enquiries and leads stopped. Marketing had become the business life-blood, and was directly attributable to the business pipeline. It wasn't long before they switched their marketing back on!

How do you view marketing? Yes, marketing costs money. But at the same time, your brand is worth a lot of money - isn't that an asset worth protecting?