Too Many Options? Make Better Choices.

By: Holly Brochmann

If there’s one thing today’s decision makers have in abundance, it’s options. The nature of the decision that has to be made rarely matters – chances are, there will be options galore. Paint colors, features on a new device, dog food brands, investment plans, the list goes on and on. The same is true in the business world, and where HBI is concerned, creative services.

In the “old” days, there were essentially two different ways brands could spend their marketing dollars – public relations or advertising. There were subcategories of course, such as direct mail, sponsorships or events, but all activities essentially rolled up into one of these two areas. Then the internet happened, and a wave of continually evolving technological innovations revolutionized how brands can reach their consumers.

Now, when companies are determining how to spend their marketing dollars, they must consider not only traditional options including advertising and PR, but also digital options such as social media engagement, influencer programs, SEO strategies, web development, mobile app creation, and cloud applications (to name a few). Then within each option there are more options, and still more options beyond that. It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. A few fortunate brands have giant budgets and can afford the full gamut of services offered, but most have to sift through all those options and hope the choices they made are the right ones.

So how do you know what to do? On one hand, you want to implement a comprehensive, fully integrated campaign. But on the other, you don’t want to stretch yourself too thin. You might want to experiment and try different things, but sometimes it can take months to see results. If it doesn’t work, potentially thousands of dollars have gone down the drain.

The purpose of this blog isn’t to tell you what to spend your marketing or communications budget on (as a PR firm, we would certainly and self-servingly recommend PR!), rather how to make better choices among the overwhelmingly large number of options available to you.

First, know your audience and what they respond to. Industry-specific organizations might be paying attention to their industry trade publications or association newsletters. Executives are reading the business press while millennials are looking at social media or conducting a simple Google search. While this may seem like obvious advice, it may be trickier than it seems given the, once again, options audiences have for getting their information.

Second, know your budget, accept it for what it is, and be flexible. If your agency is telling you that you need to spend a certain minimum to achieve desired results, trust them because they are most likely telling the truth, and not trying to upsell. If you don’t have that minimum, it’s best not to try and stretch those dollars to create something out of too little. Instead, discuss other areas with your agency or inhouse communications team that might produce more impact. Although the strategy you end up taking might look different than what you initially had in mind, it might work a lot better for your unique needs.

Finally, don’t be afraid to borrow strategies from your peers. Look at brands of similar sizes with similar audiences that are doing a good job of engaging those audiences. What is working for them can work for you too, at least as far as services are concerned. As for the creative, well that’s another blog post all on its own.

All in all, finding a communications partner that you trust and that is knowledgeable on all the options is your best bet. While making the decision is ultimately yours, you can make it more comfortably and confidently with the right guidance.