3 Effective Ways to Spend Your Leftover Marketing Budget Right Now

I’m a strategic grocery shopper. I never leave home without a list, and I rarely buy anything without a plan to use it because I hate waste.

Unfortunately, things don’t always go according to plan.

Sometimes my husband and I work late and opt for takeout instead of cooking the meal we’d planned. Those are the weeks I end up tossing a pound of rotting vegetables into the compost bin and, you guys, it hurts my soul.

The truth is, even with careful planning, waste happens. And the same holds true for your marketing budget.

As marketers, we kick off the year with an aggressive calendar and calculate every campaign spend down to the cent to avoid depleting our coffers before the end of Q4.

Yet all too often, just a few weeks before the year’s end, marketers find themselves with a surplus of “use-it-or-lose-it” budget (funds you can’t roll over to the next quarter) and seemingly no good way to spend it.

After all, it’s nearly impossible to plan, build and launch an effective campaign last-minute amidst the holiday craziness. (I’ve been there.) And throwing that money at digital advertising efforts during a time when most industries are experiencing a lull seems, well, pointless.

So is this leftover budget doomed to become waste?

Of course not. If that were the case, I wouldn’t have written this post and wasted your time with a story about my rotten produce and obsessive grocery shopping tendencies.

If you’re looking to spend your remaining marketing budget on something that will drive conversions, can be completed in a few weeks and requires little-to-no heavy lifting from you or your team, then check out these three suggestions.

High quality, targeted content is the fuel your marketing engine needs to keep chugging towards your goals. But it takes a lot of time to create the kind of content your audience expects.

When I worked as a marketing communications manager, I thought of blog post ideas all the time. On the treadmill, in the shower, throughout my commute — the inspiration felt endless. I’d jot the ideas down in a notebook or toss them into a spreadsheet. But with so many other duties on my plate, I didn’t have the time to write those blog posts, and neither did anyone else on my team. So in the spreadsheet they’d remain, forever unwritten.

My guess is you have more than a few plans for content that has yet to materialize because you and your team are consumed with a zillion other things.

Instead of letting those ideas die, use your leftover marketing budget to outsource several blog posts to an experienced freelance writer.

Whether it’s timely content to support your Q1 initiatives or evergreen topics you can publish anytime, round up a list of articles you’d like written and delegate them to a writer you trust. Then simply queue them up and prepare to start the new year with an arsenal of fresh content your audience will love.

The end of the year is a great time to celebrate all the things you and your team have done well and the many successes you’ve achieved. Pop bottles. Go crazy.

But it’s also a time to recognize those efforts that haven’t yielded the results you’d hoped and recalibrate your plan for the year ahead. That’s why I always suggest marketers perform a content marketing audit as part of their end-of-year review. (And, luckily, this is something you can outsource to a content marketing strategist.)

Whether your content marketing is falling flat, or it’s driving traffic and conversions but you’d like to see your results improve, an audit will help you uncover things like:

  • Which pieces of content are driving the most engagement
  • Opportunities for improved SEO
  • Gaps within your content strategy

Once you’ve identified what’s working and what needs fixing, you’ll have a comprehensive content marketing gameplan to drive your strategy over the next twelve months.

Remember when I said blog post ideas came to me all day long? I’ve discovered that’s not a skill every marketer possesses. (We all have our strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you asked me to create a pivot table in Excel, I’d probably cry or throw up. Maybe both.) For some, the biggest obstacle to their content marketing success is feeling like they’ve run out of ideas.

A content calendar is one of those things marketers know they should have but, unless they have a dedicated content strategist on their team, probably aren’t very diligent about managing.

But, it’s also something you can outsource. (Noticing a theme?)

Applying your leftover budget to build a well-organized content calendar full of ideas for the year ahead is like hiring a housekeeping service to clean your house before you host family for the holidays. It gets the job done (well), it makes you look good and it’s one less pain in your ass during the craziest time of the year.

As the end of the year looms closer and your remaining marketing budget sits unused, it becomes harder and harder to find rational ways to spend it that won’t set off alarm bells in your accounting department. (Do you really need 5,000 Sharpies?) And even if you’re able to roll over your leftover budget to the next year, it may be re-allocated to another department who spends their annual budget faster.

However, by spending your leftovers on content creation and strategy, you’ll position your organization for a fruitful first quarter and a promising new year.

Ready to get started? Let’s chat about your needs.

Originally published at carriedagenhard.com on December 5, 2018.

Freelance writer, content marketer, mental health advocate, and relentlessly curious human. “I know words. I have the best words.”