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  • Pete Steege

How Marketing Is Like Personal Finance

Marketing and Finance are two professions that you might think are at opposite ends of a spectrum.

Actually, they have a lot in common. One way in particular that marketers can learn from the personal finance world is the concept of portfolios and having a balanced portfolio to be successful.

As in finance, there are different purposes for different kinds of investments in marketing.

Expenses: Paying the bills

One of those ways to spend marketing assets is on your expenses - things that you're doing to kind of "pay the bills" every day, week or month.

Examples are creating content, updating your website, social media posts, keeping the word out there in your market and digital advertising.

These things are most effective when there's a steady cadence. I like to call them the "marketing engine." You need to continually refresh your message and your content, how the world is seeing you.

Like in the Finance world, these expenses are recurring payments that you really need to keep up, like paying your utility bill at home.

Investments: Delayed gratification

Another kind of marketing expense is an investment.

Think of this like in personal finance as these longer-term places to put your marketing spending that will pay off in the long term; you're doing it today so that in the future you reap even more benefits.

Some examples in the marketing world are the SEO work you do on your website, your branding efforts and lead generation (which often takes a long time to get up to speed and really deliver ROI). Marketing technology platforms are another example.

As in Finance, these investments require patience. They do not deliver a quick return; you're not going to see the value of them returned to you within just a few months.

Fun money: OK, but not too much

Finally, there is your fun money.

Just like in Personal Finance, there are things you're going to do just because you want to. You might think, "It's a business," and in Marketing, you shouldn't do anything like that.

The reality is - especially in marketing - there are special projects that may be purely tactical - a response to a local event, an exciting conference that you want to be a part of for intangible reasons.

These opportunities often happen on a hunch; there's not a lot of data backing them. Some of them are on a whim.

The key rule about these activities is don't do too much. Just like in Personal Finance, having a small number of funds set aside for these "fun money" projects can keep things exciting and positive for you and your team, as long as you've thought ahead about how much you're spending on that kind of activity.

In summary, allocate your marketing budget just like you would your personal budget. Think about what each of your programs is for and measure it appropriately. Measure the results and be conscious of the timeframe for success. Just as in Finance, a balanced portfolio gets the best returns.

And don't forget to rebalance!

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