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How to avoid wasting marketing budget

The majority of SME businesses are very wary of spending money, which is completely understandable. Some of the more forward-thinking business owners realise that marketing is an investment and that, in order to grow, they need to invest. However, even those who have set a budget aside for marketing want to make sure that it is spent in those areas that will maximise returns.

When we start working with a business our initial focus is on ensuring that their underlying marketing strategy is correct. Our reason for this is that if the fundamental strategy is wrong, then that budget can never be maximised. In a worst-case scenario, they may never even see a positive return.

So how can you ensure that you don’t waste marketing budget on misfiring activities and communications? In order to answer this, we would like you to take a look at the graphic below – the marketing strategy mindmap. This visual representation of all the thinking that goes into creating an effective marketing strategy should highlight where you may have gone wrong in the past.

The Marketing Strategy Mindmap

Marketing Strategy Mindmap


Marketing, as a function of business, is a massive area which covers many interlinking disciplines. However, many of us view marketing as those purely creative outputs highlighted in stage 5 of the mindmap (or the purple “marketing plan” line.) In fact, even many marketing companies will focus their efforts in this area alone. Other more multi-faceted agencies may start at stage 3 (the green line), but very few will take a holistic view of marketing and take you on the complete journey.

We often hear companies say, “we don’t need a strategy, we just need to do stuff”. This always sends the alarm bells ringing, as is the first step to guarantee they waste money and, potentially more importantly, waste their time. Because by setting off and “doing loads of stuff” that doesn’t work can consume months, or even years, of their time. What’s more is that during this period they could be falling further behind their competitors, rather than positively increasing the gap.

Where are you heading, where are you at?

Roadmap of your journey


To use an analogy, if you get in a car to make a journey, you need to know what your desired destination is, and the location co-ordinates of where you are starting from. If you don’t know both of these facts, you will be pointlessly driving around with no directions. Yes, you will eventually end up somewhere, but it will be pot luck as to where that will be. Only once you know both of these things, can you then consider the different routes available to get to your destination and weigh up other factors which could influence your decision of which directions to follow. You may even decide, all things considered it is going to be quicker and cheaper in an alternative mode of transport.

So, before you start, or continue, wasting marketing budget on pointlessly driving around, work out where you are and where you want to get to. Only then can you evaluate on which direction to set off on, or whether to get out of the car!

If you would like one our experienced marketing consultants to talk you through this process to understand it better, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.