Earning the attention your business deserves

How big of a role does marketing play when you’re looking to make the most of your budget and gain the attention your business deserves? In our 18th episode of the Sharing Knowledge Series, host Kevin Vonderau, chief lending officer at Westfield Bank, is joined by Hallie Bram Kogelschatz, CEO & president of shark&minnow, and Mark Priebe, president of Proximity Marketing. Together they discuss in detail the importance of aligning sales and marketing, prioritizing marketing budgets, and the role that marketing plays in helping your business succeed in reaching its goals.

Below are some of the top highlights from the conversation about marketing with Kevin, Hallie, and Mark. Watch or listen to the full episode here to learn more.

The relationship between sales and marketing

The discussion starts by establishing a foundation for how sales and marketing fit together. Marketing, according to Mark, is about building awareness and helping prospective and existing customers gain interest in a product, service, or company. When it’s aligned with sales it can support company awareness, product or service adoption, and building a customer relationship.

It’s also agreed that this alignment between sales and marketing can only be accomplished when the two areas are at the table together. Hallie adds that in recent years, there’s been an increase in the marriage between sales and marketing. Both aspects of a business perform better when the two are in sync.

“Sometimes salespeople think that marketing is going to displace them, and that’s the furthest thing from the truth,” Mark says. “Marketing is meant to help them.” They stress that sales teams should embrace the marketing tools, technology, and strategies that can add to their efforts and support moving customers through the sales funnel.

Hallie notes that the benefit of marketing depends on where your business is at in its lifecycle. If you’re a mature business, you may be asking how you can level up or increase your market share. Reinforcing brand loyalty and reminding those who are familiar with your business why it’s worth supporting your products or services. “Marketing, put simply, is a way to communicate consistently and clearly what you’re about as an organization,” says Hallie.

Working with an agency

Not all companies and organizations have the capacity to hire internal marketing teams to support their mission. That’s where working with a dedicated, outside agency comes into play.

“Creative friction” is a concept that Hallie says agencies like shark&minnow bring to the table. By bringing in outside ideas and skills from an agency, your organization can benefit in ways that can’t be matched internally. Even if your company does have an internal marketing structure, it can sometimes be beneficial to hear outside perspectives to challenge or break up your echo chamber.

Transparency and understanding an agency’s core competencies are something your organization ought to consider before agreeing to work with an agency. Being upfront with potential agencies about project delivery expectations, and speaking with their previous clients are good ways to make sure a given agency will align with your business’s mission and goals.

Regular communication between you and your chosen agency regarding project progress and staying within budget are paramount to a good working relationship. Mark adds that it’s common for an agency to tout the cost per acquisition of a client. But if an agency can also tell you the lifetime value of your customers and how much return on investment they generate year over year, they can better convey the value they add to your business by working with them.

Prioritizing your marketing budget

If you’re looking to expand your business’s marketing efforts, you may not be sure how to craft a budget. “What are your goals, and much is it worth to realize those goals?” is what Hallie says businesses should ask themselves when deciding how much to spend on marketing. Mark points out that your company can also assess who your customers currently are and who your prospects are and use that to determine the most cost-effective measures for better reaching them.

Activity versus results should also be kept in mind – it’s one thing to post on social media or send out newsletters, but are these activities generating results? Constantly asking that question and distinguishing between activity and results will ensure you’re making the most of your investment in marketing.

Impact of the pandemic on marketing spend

When times get tough, as with the COVID-19 pandemic for many businesses, marketing can be one of the first areas to be cut as a cost-saving measure. While this might seem sensible in the short-term, businesses that fail to invest in marketing don’t typically meet their goals over time. The pandemic was unique in the way it created a hyper-virtual world, which Mark points out gave further rise to the importance of digital marketing efforts. Hallie also found that the uncertain economic conditions prompted many businesses to reassess their strategy and devise innovative methods to stay relevant and reach their customers.

The bottom line is that when the economy takes a turn, the need for meaningful investments in marketing efforts is likely more critical than ever.

About our contributors

Hallie is the co-founder and CEO of shark&minnow and brings 20 years of marketing expertise and insight. A Cleveland-based strategy and design consultancy founded in 2013, the shark&minnow team focuses on helping businesses of all sizes and non-profit organizations with marketing, advertising, public relations, and audio & video production.

Mark brings close to 30 years of experience helping customers grow their businesses through internet marketing and lead generation. Founded in 1994, Proximity Marketing is a Cleveland-based digital marketing firm specializing in content, email, search engine, and social media marketing, website design & user experience, and search engine optimization.

Watch or listen to the full 18th episode of the Sharing Knowledge Series