When should I make marketing investments?
Spending money in your business can be a complex topic, but I wanted to break down my thinking into how I make this decision to help others who are having the same struggles. Especially when you are your business, it can be difficult to prioritize where to spend or really know if you should be spending.
When it comes to marketing and goals, I like to ask myself these questions before investing:
Does it help me move toward my goals?
I have a list of things I want to accomplish in my business. Number one is growing my client base. Number two is creating a subscriber list. I look at whatever opportunity it is and ask if it's moving me away or toward my goals.
If it's moving me toward a non-ideal client then I don't invest. If it's moving me further from creating a subscriber list, then I don't invest. Under this umbrella, I include personal development as well. If I can learn a new skill or go to a networking opportunity that can help me reach my goals, then it's something I pursue.
How much commitment does it require?
Some investments can be no-brainers because they are minimal monetary investments and don't require a lot of time to maintain. For little money, time, and commitment, you can get started with basic business tools. It might be hard to remember these since they were easy decisions to make. They were tools like Gmail, Google Calendar, etc.
Commitment is made up of financial and time investment. Consider:
- Does it require an upfront payment?
- Is it a variable or a fixed cost? Is it scalable or will it grow with your business?
For this reason, Canva was one of the first purchases I made in my business. It was great and fast for social media posting, along with relatively minimal spend at $10 per month. It required very little up front capital also I could unsubscribe in the future if I wanted.
How much potential does it drive?
By looking at the potential return, it can immediately help you make a decision. If you spend $50 now, to potentially gain $500 later, wouldn't you? It does get more complicated when you're not sure of its potential.
When you're unsure of the return:
- Ballpark it. Is there a range that you can expect?
- Ask around. See what other people have experienced after investing in this particular software, tool, or training. Was it worth it to them?
- Do a calculation. If you think you can gain three new clients or sell 50 new products, how much revenue is that? Is it worth your time and money?
Do you need this now?
If you can afford to not invest while you're working to get to market, then save your money for something more worth your capital. It can be tempting to rent that office, spend money on fancy software, and try to upscale your business as quickly as possible. Consider if you need this product NOW.
If you need it now, then get started. Once you're past the minimum viable product then you can decide if it's a need or a want.
To decide if something is a need or a want, answer:
- Are your customers interested? If they are actively asking you for a new product or capability, weigh it against where you see your company heading.
- Will it significantly save time or labor? If you gain enough efficiency to justify the cost, think about investing.
- Can you do your work without it? If you can't proceed until your invest, then see how quickly it can be implemented.
- Code Academy - One of my main objections to myself for my online proficiency was minimal coding knowledge. Even when trying to sell myself, that was a niggling self-objection. So I registered for their course to learn to build sites from scratch. It was something that customers wanted, I had time to learn, and wasn't going to break the budget.
- Braid Method E-Course - Branding is very important for any company, but I really wanted to identify what I offer in a concise way. I also wanted to offer an e-course of my own at some point. For the dual reason of honing my messaging and seeing how others deliver, I registered for this course and loved it. It would help me work to define myself, didn't break the bank and helped me see what I could do in my own business.
- MailChimp - I invested in this because it's only $10 per month and would let me grow my email list. I am also testing Convert Kit now, but it has been a great tool to design newsletter emails. It helped me to continuously build my presence.
- Canva - For all the reasons above.
What have you invested in?