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The Secret to Budgeting for Content Marketing and Coming Out on Top

By Kelsey Meyer

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Content marketing is about more than just peddling your product or service. Done correctly, your content marketing efforts can produce positive results for almost every area of your company, including:

  • Marketing.
  • Sales.
  • Talent recruitment.
  • Investor relations.
  • Customer loyalty.
  • Employee engagement/advocacy. 

If you had a strategy that actually led to positive results in each of these areas, would you be willing to allocate 37 percent or more of your marketing budget to it? According to the Content Marketing Institute, marketers who do produce the best results overall. 

We understand budgeting is difficult — you’re trying to account for the direct ROI of every penny spent while also getting buy-in from leadership to experiment with initiatives that could take longer to prove their worth. And allocating 37 percent of your budget to anything is scary. So forget about budgeting percentages, and instead think about the number as a whole.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s say your yearly marketing budget is $1 million (wouldn’t that be great?). Because this is a sizable marketing budget, we’ll assume you’re a fast-growing technology company investing in future growth.

Thirty-seven percent of the budget would be $370,000. If you can account for a positive ROI on this investment, you can secure the funding. However, you’re nervous that marketing alone won’t produce the ROI in year one.

Let’s look at other areas that content marketing touches and see if we can get what you need: 

1. Sales/Customer Acquisition

Your sales team has a budget to wine and dine potential clients, right? Well, what if instead of taking them to that fancy steak dinner, your team interviewed a prospect and included quotes from her in your next article? It would give your team a reason to reach out to her (prospecting), make her feel good while providing something of value (nurturing), and give the salesperson a reason to reach out to the prospect once the article is published (following up). To reinforce this, data shows nurtured leads have a 23 percent shorter sales cycle.

Let’s say you can convince your sales manager that content will shrink the sales cycle and generate more qualified leads over the year.

The average customer acquisition cost in the SaaS industry is about six to 12 times the average monthly fee. So, if you’re charging $1,000 per month, that conservatively costs you $6,000 to acquire a customer.

For example, according to the OPEXEngine SaaS benchmark report, the average payback period for customer acquisition costs is about 18 months. This is calculated by dividing the CAC per new customer by the average recurring revenue per customer. However, SaaS companies with expected growth rates in the 20 to 50 percent range had a payback period of only 6.5 months, while those with expected growth rates higher than 50 percent had an average payback period of 35 months.

If you could move that acquisition cost down to $4,000 for 100 clients per year, you just saved the company $200,000. Ask for $100,000 of that back for your content marketing strategy to actually make this work, and you’re on your way to getting the budget you need.

2. Talent Acquisition 

If you’re in the tech industry, you’re likely using a headhunter or recruitment agency to find top engineers. They charge anywhere between 15 to 30 percent of an employee’s first-year salary to help you find the right person. If the average developer role at a technology company pays $200,000, that’s at least $30,000 per employee.

Content helps to attract top talent by showcasing a company’s culture and core values while also weeding out low-quality applicants. If a candidate comes into an interview without having read any content published by your company leaders, it’s a major red flag. This will make candidates stand out who’ve done their research and can offer insightful feedback.

So if your firm is planning to hire 10 new engineers in the next year — and you can do so without a headhunter — that’s worth $300,000 because they will need to invest in recruiters and other HR expenses to hire these employees. So let’s say they can conservatively give you $100,000 of that savings for your budget.

Now you’re at $200,000 — and you haven’t even touched your marketing budget. 

3. Investor Relations

The ROI of investor relations is more difficult to measure, so I’ll share a story to illustrate content’s effects in this area.

We were working with a client who was in the process of raising Series B funding. She reached out to an investor in her industry multiple times with no response and assumed it wasn’t going to happen. We then helped her write an article that showcased her expertise in the industry and made some rather bold predictions about where the industry was headed. Someone read the article and passed it along to his contact — the very investor she was trying to reach. He read the article, loved her vision, reached out to her, and signed the $1 million check she was asking for a few months later.

One piece of content was the spark that landed her a $1 million investment. 

Let’s say you spend heavily on traveling, meeting with investors, and trying to get in front of the right people. If you can allocate some of those costs to content instead (let’s say $20,000), you have one more tool for getting in touch with the right people.

So now you’re at $220,000, and you still haven’t gone to the marketing department. 

4. Customer Loyalty/Engagement and Employee Engagement/Advocacy

Although these are very different areas, let’s look at them as a unit. You want these groups of people actively engaged in your organization, telling others what they know about you and positioning your company in a positive light.

Content can help with this. Clients are much more likely to share an article you wrote than your brochure or proposal. When they share your quality content, their contacts will potentially ask how they know about your company, and bingo: referral time. 

Content can help with employee advocacy, too. Employees want to work for the best, and when they can brag about working for the best by sharing your expert content, it instills pride in working there. It’s also more enjoyable for an employee to share an awesome article about your company culture than a stale job description. This helps with customer acquisition, talent acquisition, and overall brand awareness. 

Let’s say you’re able to pull $10,000 from different budgets that play into customer loyalty and employee advocacy. 

Now you have $230,000 to work with.

Finally, we’ve reached the marketing department. Suddenly, all you need to ask for is $140,000 out of the $1 million marketing budget. That’s not even 15 percent; that’s less than the average company that isn’t doing content well spends.

If you can prove ROI for the marketing, sales, and HR departments while pulling small bits of the budget from different departments, you’ll come out on top, and your company leaders will thank you. New Call-to-action

Posted on July 9, 2015

About Kelsey Meyer

Kelsey is the President and cofounder of Influence & Co. She loves reading, learning, golf, orange Gatorade, and, most importantly, her amazing I&Co. team.

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