Six marketing focus areas you’ll want to budget for in 2014

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Last week we covered a handful of marketing budget line items that you might consider cutting without a significant impact to your performance and results. But if you aren’t simultaneously looking for the means to improve your results through new efforts, channels and strategies, you might be caught flat-footed when what used to work starts to decline, and you’re playing catch up without the money to fund it.

From what we’re seeing deliver solid ROI for leading B2B marketing organizations today, as well as the focus areas we believe will continue to deliver high-leverage results in 2014, here are six strategies we recommend you consider for investment in your new budget:

1. Advocate marketing platform & resources
Think about the various constituent groups that could be more proactively delivering your message, offers and expanded word of mouth for your brand, products and services. Your most loyal, passionate customers just need the right nudges to help you spread the word. I’d encourage you to check out what Influitive is doing to create Advocate Hubs that are accelerating the mobilization of their happy customers, partners, employees and more.

2. Content strategy
Content (and the tools/technology that organize and distribute it) has already become the most important asset marketers will work with in 2014 (more important than media). If you don’t have a content strategy, and the resources to execute it, you’ll spend way too much money replicating its replacement value to drive qualified leads to your sales team. Think carefully about the content you need in 2014, and budget the resources to create and capitalize on it.

3. Marketing automation support
Too many companies buy their marketing automation platform and assume that’s enough. But as Brian points out, world-class lead management programs require four components to succeed: 1) strategy, 2) platform, 3) people and 4) content. Those last two are sorely underfunded, and are the primary reasons why many marketing automation efforts are less than successful. Think carefully about the people and content resources you need to fulfill the full ROI and pipeline growth potential of your marketing automation platform.

4. Influencer engagement
The funding you need here may very well be just a single person or a percentage of someone on your PR or marcomm team. But it’s on this list because, if you don’t dedicate the resources for it, you’ll never get the work done. Most companies engage the press and analysts, but few go the extra mile to engage the bloggers, Twitter users and other “social” influencers that, together, may have even greater reach and sway over your target market. These individuals are often easier to engage and build relationship with as well vs. crusty reporters who get pitched all the time.

5. Sales enablement tools
Forward-thinking sales reps are already doing this for themselves. They’re using tools such as OFunnel, Newsle and others to filter the noise and find for themselves buying signals from their existing networks. They’re using ToutApp to get real-time alerts when prospects engage with their follow-up emails. But marketing groups are increasingly playing a proactive role in providing a set of sales enablement tools that help their sales counterparts increase productivity, efficiency and output.

6. Social lead generation
The budget required here is almost exclusively for technology, but the output is pure lead generation. With social, the media is free. But it’s like the best library of buying signals in the world with all the books on the floor. Tools such as Socedo, SocialBro, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, GaggleAMP and Papershare can help you mine the social web for qualified leads at a fraction of the cost of other paid media. At minimum, budget for a series of tests of these and other platforms in early 2014 to validate their lead-producing potential.

I’m sure we’ve missed other areas worth investing in for 2014. Would love to hear other ideas & recommendations in the comments below.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.

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