Use it or lose it—that’s what you’re facing when it comes to end-of-year accounting. If you’re lucky enough to have a little something left over in your marketing budget, you certainly want it to go to good use, especially with the new year around the corner. Since you can’t spend it on a Cancun getaway, you need some smart ways to use those funds to finish the year strong. Luckily, we have some ideas for you.
How to Spend Your Extra Marketing Budget
From education to content, here are some useful ways to spend your budget, help your team, and set yourself up for success next year. We hope they help.
1) Holiday Content
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, throw your funds toward some extra stuff to tide you over. End-of-year roundups or predictions for the new year can be especially popular. (Fact: Our roundup of the best infographics of 2017 is still one of our more popular posts.)
Keep in mind, however, that you need some runway in your production timeline. You’ll want to publish at least 2-3 weeks ahead of the holidays to give yourself enough time to promote to publications and allow readers to share your content.
Tip: If your brain is fried and you need some content idea inspiration, here are 9 ideas to spark your creativity.
2) Next Year’s Content Strategy
The new year will be here before you know it, which means it will be time to reassess your goals and tactics. You can get a jumpstart on your content strategy for your next quarter, half year, or even full year starting now. (We’re assuming you have one documented. If not, here are the 12 things you need to include, as well as tips to get your content strategy on paper.)
Think about what you want to focus on going forward. Lead nurturing? Lead gen? Social strategy? Engaging current customers? Based on the insights you’ve gained from this year, consider how you might tweak your tactics to achieve your goals.
Tip: To make sure your content is as effective as possible, this is also a good time to map your buyer’s journey and ensure you’re sending the right message at the right time.
3) Sprint Projects
There are a lot 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. Again, you might be inspired to create some 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. This is a great time to test out some new tools and services or upgrade what you currently have for things like marketing automation, 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.
5) Helpful Research
Data storytelling is one of the best ways to create fresh content, but it requires a fair amount of groundwork. If you don’t have the bandwidth or knowhow, consider commissioning a report, investing in data analysis of your contact database, or using a data onboarding service to uncover interesting insights.
That data can help inform your business, strategy, and decision making—and it can help you uncover unique, original stories to turn into compelling content.
Tip: If you’re going to invest in data storytelling, find out how to design data visualizations that tell your story.
6) Content Distribution
Great content can provide value long after it’s been published. More and more, we’re seeing clients produce evergreen content with long-tail distribution plans to keep leads, traffic, and impressions flowing for months and even years.
Look for ways to boost what you already have. 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, etc. 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.
Just because we’re stuck behind screens doesn’t mean you can’t still get some facetime and networking in. Tons of organizations have switched to virtual conferences. And in many cases, these can be more advantageous. Since everyone can tune in from wherever they are, you actually have a wider net of people to interact with.
Tip: To get the green light for a conference, offer to create content based on what you learned there, or provide a relevant presentation when you get back.
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 (e.g., Google Adwords), offering some education funds might be a great incentive.
For example, we give each of our employees an annual budget to learn about anything. (We call it our Careosity Fund.) We’ve often seen our teams’ education initiatives directly result in new business wins, fuller brainstorm sessions, smarter strategies, and more polished creative projects.
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.
Tip: Find out how a divisible content strategy can help you do this easily.
10) A Creative Agency
A creative agency is a team of pros who are experts at helping you get the most mileage out of your investment. Whether you need high-level strategy work, content creation support, or someone to help you revamp your marketing head to toe, they can help you do it. If you need to spend your budget ASAP, they’ll have even more ideas than what you’ve read here.
(Of course, we’d love to be in the running. Holler at us if you need extra support.)
Keep Learning, Keep Growing in the New Year
No matter your budget, we know content marketing isn’t always easy, but the more you do it, the better you get. To succeed, you need to stay educated, keep up with best practices, push your team to grow, and experiment more (even if it feels scary).
We want you to work smarter, not harder, so we’ll keep sending tips your way, providing the helpful resources you need, and sharing what we’ve learned. (You can keep in touch by signing up for our newsletter below.)
In the meantime, we hope the next year brings you more creative ideas, greater ROI, and even more wins. Cheers.