Use it or lose it—that’s what practically everyone with remaining marketing budget faces when it comes to end-of-year accounting. If you’re lucky enough to have a little something left over, you certainly want it to go to good use, especially with 2018 around the corner. Since you can’t spend it on a Cancun getaway (unless your next marketing conference is there), you need some smart ways to use those funds to finish the year strong—or make investments for the year ahead.
How to Spend Your Extra Marketing Budget
If you need a little inspiration, here are some useful ways to spend your cash by the end of the year.
1) Holiday Content to Cover You
We’re about to head into the holidays, which means things will be super hectic from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. If you want to enjoy your holidays without the headache of queuing up content, throwing your funds toward some extra stuff to tide you over might be helpful. A few “2017: Year in Review’ or “2018 Predictions” pieces are always a good way to create timely seasonal content.
Keep in mind, however, that when it comes to seasonal content, the adage “if you’re on time, you’re late” holds true. You need enough runway in your production timeline to publish at least 2-3 weeks ahead of the holidays so you have enough time to promote to publications and allow readers to share your content.
2) Your 2018 Strategy
The new year will be here before you know it, which means it will be time to reassess your goals and tactics. Consider investing in your 2018 strategy now by undergoing a complete review of your 2017 strategy, uncovering key learnings and opportunities to tweak and evolve your activities.
A good question to ask: What have you been wanting to focus your content practice on more? Lead nurturing? Lead gen? Social strategy? Engaging current customers? You can get a jumpstart on strategy for your next quarter, half year, or even full year starting now. It’s also smart to loop in your content agency of record to keep them current on all relevant information—and leverage their ideation skills.
3) Sprint Projects
There are lots of formats that can give you a good return for a decent cash investment: think live-action video (especially documentary style or product explainer videos), an interesting series of infographics, interactives, or more. (You might be inspired to create some 2017 year-in-review content in these formats too.) These project types spend at scale, allowing you to squeeze some additional marketing budget out of the term’s final days.
4) New Tools to Make Life Easier
There’s a ton of useful tech out there to help you do your job better. Sometimes it’s a matter of putting up the cash or researching the best ones to invest in. You might test out some new tools and services or upgrade what you currently have. Consider things like marketing automation subscriptions, software upgrades, social listening tools, etc.
Because many marketing tools require upfront subscription payments for the year rather than recurring monthly payments, they’re convenient places to stash your end-of-year marketing budget surpluses.
(Some of our favorite lifesaving tools this year were Hubspot for marketing automation, Wonder and CubeYou for market insights, and Meltwater and Cision for media promotions.)
5) Helpful Research
Data storytelling is one of the best ways to create fresh content, but it relies on a fair amount of groundwork. If you don’t have the bandwidth or knowhow, commissioning a report, data analysis of your contact database, or data onboarding service to uncover interesting insights is an easy way to do it. Not only can these reports give you useful business intelligence to shape your strategies but they also make for valuable content to package up for your target customers.
6) Boost Distribution on Your Best Content
Sometimes the value of great content isn’t seen for some time after publication. More and more, we’re seeing clients prioritize producing evergreen content with long-tail distribution plans to keep leads, traffic, and impressions flowing for months and even years.
You should view your content production as a one-time, long-term investment; its distribution offers direct return on your dollar. Review the content you’ve produced this year, and select a few all-stars to amplify distribution with your remaining marketing budget. A little extra firepower in the form of social promo, native placements, experimental targeting, event partnerships, influencer engagement, or your other favorite channels can give those pieces the visibility they need and add last-minute results to your year-end tally. This is especially smart for cornerstone content, such as e-books or videos.
You may be able to swing that Cancun trip after all if you can convince a higher-up that it’s a valid networking opportunity. We’re all stuck behind our computers too often, and conferences can be a great way to get some much-needed education and face-to-face time with potential contacts. Check out a conference you haven’t visited before, or head to something in another region to make the most of it.
8) Online Courses
You might not be able to duck out for a weeklong conference, but online courses are available anytime, anywhere. If there are subjects you want to know more about or ways you need your team to expand their skills (maybe Google Adwords), offering some education funds might be a great incentive.
Fun fact: We give each of our employees a $500 education budget to learn about anything—so long as they can give a solid presentation on why it’s relevant. We’ve often seen our teams’ education initiatives directly result in new business wins, fuller brainstorm sessions, smarter strategies, or more polished creative projects.
A ton of companies offer great courses, including LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Hubspot Academy, etc. Take a look to see what might spark your interest.
9) Spin-Off Assets
New content doesn’t always have to start from a wholly original concept. In addition to boosting existing assets, you can also get more mileage by spinning them into new content pieces for next year. You might turn an e-book into a series of infographics, or create several mini e-books based on each chapter. Highlight reels, a visual year in review, microcontent—there are lots of ways to generate more from what you have.
We hope these suggestions help you figure out where to spend. If you have any questions or want to brainstorm some more ideas, we’re happy to chat. And if you’re on the hunt for a partner to help you create fresh content, here are 12 things to look for in a content agency, plus a few tips to help you work better together.
Until next year!