Part of our ongoing Marketing 101 series, which you can read in full here.
“I don’t have a lot of money to invest in marketing. Can you help me understand how and where to invest in marketing for the best results? Figuring out a reasonable marketing budget is one of our biggest frustrations.“
This is a question we get all too often from our community of craft alcohol makers, and a question that everyone wishes had a cookie-cutter answer.
The truth is, we can’t tell you exactly how to spend your beverage marketing budget, because it’s not an exact science. In fact, it’s different for every industry and even for every brand within each industry. But don’t stop reading! We’re here to help.
While we can’t share a one size fits all approach to how to spend your marketing money, we can give you our list of musts to consider. Then, when creating your marketing budget you can create a realistic strategy that’s right for your unique business.
1. Create marketing goals that directly align with your business goals.
While you may potentially see positive results from throwing money at a tactic blindly, we wouldn’t recommend it. With that approach it is difficult to track the direct results you have, and determine if it’s worth doing again. Instead we recommend a goal-oriented approach when creating your marketing budget.
A marketing cornerstone is knowing exactly what phase of business you’re in. Then, setting goals, and identifying a realistic budget to drive real results.
- Launch a new brand?
- Promote your new product?
- Find new followers and customers?
- Drive traffic to your website, online sales, or tasting room?
- Increase brand awareness to your distribution regions?
- Build relationships and partnerships with other businesses in your area to drive foot traffic?
A different mix of marketing tactics should be used for all of these goals. So, understanding the priority of your business & marketing goals will help determine if/where to spend money.
2. Create a strategy that uses a mixture of paid and organic marketing.
While there are plenty of free marketing tactics out there for most businesses they are not enough. At least not throughout every stage of their business growth.
Marketing 101 terminology: “free” marketing is better known as “organic” in the marketing industry. Nothing in life is truly free. Organic marketing is the act of getting customers to come to you naturally over time, rather than through tactics you explicitly pay for. But remember, time is money!
The best marketers have a robust toolbox of both paid and organic marketing tactics to drive results. Think about how both can work together to compliment each other rather than focusing on only one.
When you’re new to marketing and budgeting, it’s also important to leave room in your budget to try new tactics and experiment. This will help you determine what works best for your business and brings in the most results. But remember, paid marketing tactics aren’t the only way to see BIG results. So, set aside time (another precious resource, we know!) to learn and activate both organic and paid marketing approaches.
3. Look to the future and understand your long-term marketing budget goals.
All small businesses have a starting point, and we know that many of us have to make hard decisions because of our current budget. However, it’s important to understand the BIG PICTURE of what a reasonable budget SHOULD look like. Both to achieve your short-term and long-term goals. This allows you to know what to strive for in the future.
Create a wishlist of items you would love to include in your budget once your business grows. For example:
Say you know your website could be better at pulling in organic traffic and converting online sales, but you can’t afford a web designer right now. This should be a goal that you to fit in your budget in the future. Without thinking bigger, you can’t become bigger. Looking to the future, understanding what should eventually become a part of your budget, and planning to get there ensures you aren’t inadvertently holding your business back from its true potential. There’s a reason people say, “You have to spend money to make money.” Don’t let your current marketing budget reality dictate your future.
4. Learn enough about marketing “to be dangerous” & budget for marketing education.
Marketing is a massive topic, and the truth is, none of us are experts in everything. Big companies have large teams where each person is expected to be an expert in different areas of marketing, which is amazing.
As small business owners, however, we don’t usually have the luxury of large teams and dedicated experts. So we’re often left to figure it out on our own or hire someone to do it for us. Before you can do either of those things well you have to educate yourself and your team on marketing 101 and beyond as you grow. Why? It’s critical that you understand marketing basics to minimize wasted resources when you are ready to get started. Otherwise your budget and time, both of which likely already feel scarce, will be wasted. Leaving you with even fewer resources to achieve those important goals.
Whether you’re tackling marketing as a business owner yourself, or delegating much of it to team members, it’s important to budget time and money for education. There are tons of free resources that we constantly share. So, we’re thrilled you’re here! Plus, our Craft Alcohol Marketing Bootcamp is the most comprehensive program out there, specifically designed for the Craft Alcohol Makers, to educate your team on marketing from A to Z or on specific tactics that you need in the moment.
5. Identify and track success metrics to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t work.
Here at The Crafty Cask, we decided to experiment with GoogleAds for one of our newer business goals. After a couple of months of tracking results, making adjustments based on what we were learning, and talking with GoogleAds experts (many of whom had contrary advice to each other, so we had to educate ourselves more as well!), we pulled the plug.
Not necessarily because GoogleAds don’t work. Because they weren’t working as well as we needed to drive that specific goal in a reasonable amount of time (which, FYI, is always longer than you think!). Since we had also been experimenting with organic strategies like SEO and social media to drive that same goal, we could easily compare our different marketing tactics. This allowed us to reallocate our spending to what was working to drive better results.
Without taking time to experiment with GoogleAds, knowing what reasonable results could look like, and tracking our direct results we could easily still be spending money on a tactic that wasn’t working well. Or, without the right success metrics we could have written off search ads entirely for our business. When in fact they have worked for other parts of our business.
It’s important to identify key metrics and set up a way to track them BEFORE you start using that tactic. Do this with every piece of marketing so that you can learn and optimize quickly.
Remember, for all of this to work your marketing goals have to align directly with your business goals AND your brand story and voice. This is the core of understanding marketing 101, and you’ll hear us say this repeatedly. It’s that important! If you’re feeling stuck, keep your eye out for our next article on setting SMART business goals. Let’s kick off the new year and make 2022 your best, most results oriented marketing year yet!
Looking for more help with creating your marketing budget?
Our Marketing 101 Course takes a deep dive into marketing budget drivers, and even includes a budget template and exercises to get you started.
Join the full 10-course Craft Alcohol Marketing Bootcamp and jump in with our new class of students, starting in early 2022! Take the courses and learn alongside a network of other craft alcohol makers just like you to ensure you stick with it and make progress applying everything you learn directly to your business as you go.