The Top 5 Ways To Maximize Your Company’s Annual Marketing And Business Development Budget Through The Internet Channel

Companies of all shapes, sizes and structures come to us almost weekly asking for advice about how they should be going about marketing their business through the internet channel, and just as importantly, how much they should be investing in their business development endeavors on an annual basis?!

In this blog, we share the top 5 questions we get asked, as well as the ways we provide creative and data-driven direction for our clients and prospects to act on. If your company’s goal is to turn data into dollars and online insights into more measurable income, get your note-taking device of choice ready, because you’re going to enjoy reading this!

Question #1 – If our company had to select one way to invest our marketing dollars so that we’re getting the highest return on investment, what is the best course to trek?

From a business to business perspective, the best way to grow sales and develop a deeper database of contacts who will buy from you on an ongoing basis, is to attend local networking events and get involved with as many relevant industry associations as possible. FYI, the reason this is included here is because after you meet these people in person, following up with them by email and/or on social media is the next step for converting these contacts into cash.

Our clients have had lots of success with builder associations like the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and NARI, local National Kitchen and Bath Association chapters (NKBA), American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), Business Networking International (BNI), Chambers of Commerce, and philanthropic organizations like the Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Lions Club, and more.

From the technology side of things, many of our clients have had success reaching out to contacts in the trades and to specifiers, via our cold email marketing program. After attending ICFF in New York City recently, it’s never been more evident that everyone (showrooms, manufacturers, reps, and e-tailers) is out to build more meaningful relationships with the folks who select fixtures and bring their clients into a showroom, where they can use their allowances.

Now, being sophisticated about doing “outbound marketing,” in a systematic way, DOES NOT involve putting names into a Constant Contact or Mailchimp list and sending them all kinds of messages without their consent. If you or your company does this, stop – because you’ll have next to zero success and will likely get your domain name, “slapped,” by the search engines and email filters, and you’ll soon have a ‘shady’ reputation around town for being a spammer and insincere person.
When it comes to business-to-consumer marketing, the best way to connect with “high probability buyers” online is to set up and continually optimize a Google Ad campaign.

However, although setting up a Google Ad campaign is exciting, don’t forget that Google is a “for profit,” business and will gladly take your money if you fail to set up your campaign in a best practice way. So, to offset this and to help you get started in the right direction, we put together a top 10 list of best practices that we use and will gladly share that with you per your request.

This Chart Was Created By & Shows Where Budgets Are Allocated

Bar chart of allocated marketing budgets


Question #2 – If we have eCommerce enabled on our website (i.e., if you have a webstore), should we focus more on local advertising or go after the entire country?

First, many showrooms and supply houses that add an eCommerce element to their website initially do so to activate a “reordering,” functionality for their business, in hopes to automate the recording process for their B2B customers.

In short, B2B accounts can automate the way they order by executing their purchases via the web – after logging into a client portal that lives on the back-end of your website. Having this functionality available at your company will give your top sales associates a lot of time back, as well as allow newbies to gain ‘real world’ order taking experience without much risk involved. Plus, your accounts will love having their fixtures and rough stuff show up on the job site after the push of a few buttons and zero time on the phone.

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As for rolling out a public-facing eCommerce enabled website for the world to purchase from, just know that becoming the next Build, Wayfair or Amazon overnight IS NOT going to happen because you decided to join the world of eCommerce. Please keep in mind that although it’s exciting to advance your tech game by opening up a web store for the world to purchase from, Google and other prominent sites aren’t going to stop rewarding their faithful advertisers, who have been with them for years, because you have decided to play a bigger game online.

We deal with this very situation often, and our Showroom Marketing Team’s advice is to blanket the first page of Google and dominate the top terms that are bringing phone calls, form fill-outs and wishlists, and appointments from a calendar widget installed on your site, people clicking on directions to find your brick and mortar, before blindly investing in anything unproven, or eCommerce related.

However, if your goal is to save time and invest in eCommerce for the ease-of-use for a B2B account, well, that’s another story! Go get ’em’!  🙂

Question #3 – What is the best way to determine if what we’re doing is generating a return on investment, or any traction at all?

The top way of accessing what is currently happening with any business development or marketing initiative through your website is to look at your Google Analytics info – specifically the goals section. The goals area is where to get granular and where you can calculate a cost per lead (CPL) and a cost per customer acquired. It’s all about knowing your Return On Ad Spend (ROAS), and anybody telling you otherwise is keeping lots more than this basic info from you.

Now, although Google Analytics is a 100% necessary tool, many of the metrics that are accumulated there can be considered “vanity” metrics (i.e., they do not contribute to tracking sales). Shockingly enough, most businesses have ZERO goals being tracked in their Google Analytics account, and aside from this being a total, ‘rookie’ mistake, using inferior and untracked strategies to grow sales and control more market share on the internet channel will never lead to satisfactory results that can be scaled or truly measured at any time.

To get a baseline of where your company is at with all of this, Bravo’s Showroom Marketing Team offers a complimentary review video that shows you how your website is performing – based on the statistics Google Analytics is accumulating, as well as what the top 100 search terms are in your service area that have people with the, “highest intent to buy,” inquiring and buying online in markets all across North America.

In short, if you’re not being disciplined and data-driven with this process, you’ll never be able to forecast future results with confidence or generate revenue in a predictable way!

Question #4 – What about creating content for Search Engine Optimization and Social Media – how does that impact our bottom line?

For the first time in history, the #1 viewed website in the world is a video site. It’s TikTok. However, although videos of cats on water skis can be captivating and heartwarming, businesses are wondering how that will better their bottom line?! Truth is, videos like that won’t.

As more and more buy-in happens from companies and brands of all shapes, sizes and structures in our industry about video and content creation, our suggestion is to stay patient with the video movement and connect with us when you’re ready to, “reel in,” more revenue from going about this journey in a profitable way.

However, if you’re ready to try some different content creation strategies and goal-get with what’s hot these days, (which is shorter videos and sizzle reels that convey why your company is different and/or better), we have experienced some success with this and would love to share what we’ve learned over the past few years.

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As for Search Engine Optimization, the results are most times not as instant as other ways of getting your message out, and are also 100% untrackable, UNLESS you put that tracking in place and measure it in a best practice way. A few things we can do is track the phone calls that come in from organic searchers or from folks who reach your website from, “referral,” sites like Yelp, the dealer locator features on a manufacturer’s site, and many others.

From a social media standpoint, the top engines of choice for a business like yours are Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, and one of the key features of publishing content on these engines is that people will engage with this content when they are browsing your site as well as on the social media engines themselves. So, be sure that you’re repurposing your content.
In short, content creation, in general, can be frustrating and unfulfilling at times. However, it does play a vital role in enhancing a user’s experience while browsing your website. Finally, if you’re not striving to be more high tech and high touch in the way you’re communicating the values and benefits of your company, then What are you doing?

Question #5 – What percentage of our annual revenue should be invested into marketing and business development for our business?

We call this, “The Marketing Budget Conundrum,” because although there are benchmarks available for figuring out this formula, there is NO ONE exact way to best go about this. There are, however, two strategies to follow regarding how your team will come up with your number for how much you will be allocating to growing sales and marketing your company’s message.

The second of these approaches is by far the most effective method of setting budgets and getting the best results. To illustrate why this is the case, let’s take a closer look at these two approaches to setting budgets.

#1 – Benchmark budgets: Where businesses set aside a fixed percentage of their annual revenue (e.g.: 7-15%) for their marketing budget.

Bar chart of marketing budgets by industry

If you’re reading this and are in the Retail/Wholesale category, the prescribed amount of revenue to reinvest into growing your business is 10%. So, if you do 5 million in sales, allocating $500,000 to growing your company and putting your marketing message on, “surround sound,” is what is suggested as best-practice for a business of your caliber.

I would venture to say that most plumbing showrooms and supply houses are VASTLY missing the mark (on the low end) with what this graph suggests. Also, if you don’t or won’t “build” a system to predictably grow your business, they will not come!

#2 – Goal-based budgets: Instead of setting arbitrary marketing budgets and simply keeping your business alive, it makes more sense to define specific growth targets and set your budgets based on achieving them.

Let’s say your business wants to grow revenue by $500,000 in the next 12 months. If each customer brings in $2,000, then you need 250 new customers – which equals 21 new customers per month. Remember, if your marketing endeavors aren’t measurable, you will never be able to go about this process in a finite way 🙁

Many of our clients have shared that the average first-time purchaser at a decorative plumbing showroom is between $2,000 and $3,000, so this is very possible to accomplish at your company, and we’re more than willing to show you exactly how to go about this journey best!

There was a lot to take in on this Prospective Series article, but more than anything, please know that we’re here to help, and that our Showroom Marketing Team knows more about the ins-and-outs of, “The Marketing Budget Conundrum,” than just about anybody on Earth.

Let us know what your top concerns or questions are with all of this information.