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the doctor's Marketing 101 for Small to Mid-Size Supply Management Solution Providers

Industry Average in the IT vertical, depending on the source, is between 7% and 15% of revenue, which usually includes (dedicated) marketing or PR staff (if you have any), and usually excludes sales staff and C level executives. I generally recommend that you start with a budget that is at least 10% or revenue, quickly scale up to a budget that is 15% of revenue within a year as you build into the full breadth of your first full-on marketing efforts, and then, as you become more visible in the space, scale back down to 10% of revenue after a couple of years.

Thus, if you were a 2M company, you'd start with 200K as you wouldn't do much in the early (planning) stages, but ramp up to 300K in the next budget. At this size, you probably wouldn't have a full time marketing exec (or if you did, she'd have other duties w.r.t. pre-sales and sales as well), just some (part time) support resources (that don't eat up too much of the budget, as you need six figures for activities).

So how would you allocate the budget, which should be mostly reserved for external activities?

I typically recommend a mix of:

  • brand presence -- for long term brand building,
  • thought-leadership (white papers, etc.)) -- for mid-term traction, and
  • events (online and offline) -- for short term (one-time) (qualified) lead generation.

Budget-wise, this means you want a bucket for events and webinars, a bucket for thought leadership (white-papers, website, etc.), a bucket for advertising (maybe some print, but mostly web), and a slush fund to augment each bucket when the right opportunity presents itself or you're doing a major promotion of a new product.

You can split it evenly, 25/25/25/25, or tip it towards what appears to work best in your targeted verticals. I always recommend at least 20% for continued brand presence (as constant visibility is the foundation of brand awareness), as most companies underemphasize the importance of this, and at least 20% for thought leadership, as most companies underemphasize the importance of this as well, but the specific split will ultimately be tailored to what works best in your target verticals.

Generally, I start a recommendation with:

  • continued brand awareness on a well trafficked niche site (i.e. blog)
    with occasional direct print marketing campaigns
  • (at least) one webinar in alternating quarters
    advertised through a different channel each time (to gauge true audience) (magazine e-mail list, society list, etc.)
  • one thought leadership piece / white-paper in alternating quarters
    which should come before the webinars and at least two external or sponsored per year
  • at least one event in each geographic zone you do business in each year;
    i.e. one event in Europe, NA, and/or Australasia each year that reaches a significant portion of your target audience; if no event fits, hold your own; for a few thousand in room rentals and food costs at a local hotel, and speaker expenses, you can gather all of your potential customers in the area, put on a great show, and get all the qualified, hungry, leads for yourself
  • campaign specific promotions
    extra brochures, PR support, thought leadership, event expenses, etc. tailored to specific verticals

That's it in a nutshell.


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