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Your big marketing budget is not as big an advantage anymore

It used to be that marketing was about money. Marketing was usually a nicer word for advertising, which needed money–lots of it. In the two decades since the web was birthed, money has become less important than it was in the past. Your big marketing budget used to buy world domination–now it just assures that you will get a look-see.

One of my kids, when he was two years old, uttered a classic assessment of how the world works: “The gooder it is, the spendier it is.” (He is about to go off to college as a marketing major, so he apparently had that business brain from birth.) And in general, he was right. Things that cost more tend to be better than things that cost less.

But not in digital marketing.

It’s not that marketing tactics that cost less are worthless–far from it. But it just isn’t true that cost-effective techniques such as SEO and email marketing are somehow less valuable than pricey paid search and Facebook ads. I am not saying to stop doing Facebook ads. But I am saying that companies that can’t afford them can still be very effective against you.

What’s true is that more money is starting to go into creating the message than distributing it. Increased spending is more likely to be focused on analytics than on advertising. Companies that don’t spend a lot on either one can take down the big budgets with a message that resonates better with their target market. Once you are faced with a competitor with a better message, your bigger budget might not win the day for you.

Understand, all things being equal, a bigger budget is better. It makes it easier to know what the market wants. More money helps create better content. And helps get that content in front of more people. And, maybe most importantly, bigger budgets give your more chances to make mistakes without being sunk by them.

But bigger budgets no longer guarantee victory, which used to be true in marketing. If you were willing to spend your competitor into oblivion, you once had a huge advantage. Now, you still have an advantage, but it is not nearly as great as before.

If you are resting on your budget as your advantage, you need to wake up. Times are changing, and knowing how to set up your market research, your feedback loop, and your content process is becoming more important than carpet-bombing with advertising. It’s not too late for you to catch the wave, but you should be grabbing your surfboard now.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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