Amongst all the words written about measuring the ROI from marketing, the question rarely asked is: How do you decide upon, justify, or prioritise further investment in marketing? It’s a question that often comes up, although often framed as: How much should I spend on X?

Here’s my answer:

  • From a strategic perspective, it’s all about optimising the match of your assets/capabilities to the needs of the market.
    For example, if you have a solution which can be sold into another territory, it might be cost-effective to enter the market by investing in partner development, specifically for that territory.  If you have partners, but no customer pull, invest in partner enablement and local communications, such as seminars, road shows, improved sales materials etc.
  • A more tactical perspective would be to just identify barriers to sales, and fix them. These might not be immediately obvious, but may include: an unproductive partner, a website lacking clarity, or an unattractive deal structure. You can identify these by talking with your customers and partners. It might not be as exciting as a new marketing campaign, but the results can be more impressive and immediate.

The suggestions above are based on experience; there isn’t an analytical solution. It’s about looking at alternatives and testing. The best source of information should be your partners, customers and prospects! Ask them about the priorities to help them sell/buy. Take every opportunity to do this, at customer meetings, user conferences and other events; encourage the members of your salesforce to do the same.

There are a lot of levers to pull. The most common error is to increase communications spend when it’s difficult for the customer to buy the product i.e. before you’ve fixed the commercial offer, support and route to market.