What is the value of marketing?

The latest headlines coming out of Scotland show that Marketing Edinburgh is being faced with a critical withdrawal of funds from its local authority. The destination marketing company has seen councillors vote to cut £300k from its £890k budget with the proviso that it become financially independent by 2020. I can see the benefit of place marketing organisations being independent. But not in forcing that independence without planning or strategy.

If they cannot find a way to sustain themselves it will leave Edinburgh as the only major city in the UK without this kind of marketing support to attract inward investment into the city. It cannot be assumed that Edinburgh’s offer is strong enough to cope without.

We all know that marketing is an ongoing process, not a one off event. It is difficult (thought not impossible) to demonstrate tangible value. This example in particular cannot be accused of failure! An open letter to the City of Edinburgh Council cites that Marketing Edinburgh contribute £99 to the local economy for every pound spent with them. An amazing return.

They are not financially sustainable as an organisation at the moment because they are working with £74m business tourism, £16m film promotion and all of the private sector investment they receive is completely reinvested into Edinburgh campaigns – not used against Marketing Edinburgh’s revenue.

So the question arises, what is the value of marketing?

A clear return on investment is evidenced. Put £1 in, get £99 out. Evidently this is not deemed value enough. What level of return would make you happy?

There are also plenty of intangible values, knock on effects on neighbouring businesses, value in creating a community of local stakeholders, resources for local people. Again, the people holding the purse strings do not see these as worth investment.

What do you value?

Marketing is the first ‘optional extra’ to get cut when belts tighten. Perhaps this is a mistake. In tough financial times, it is the area where investment will see greater returns. It is also an area that needs continual work. There is no way of ‘doing’ the marketing to get it out of the way. However, a mantra to consider: when times are hard, make your business more visible – not less!

The City of Edinburgh Council could benefit from taking a broader perspective on their marketing practices. They could be looking at the potential markets for inward investment. It’s clear there is potential for attracting new clients (film tourism). How do they invest in encouraging them to Edinburgh and not A N Other City?

Are you taking the time to look at the broader landscape for your business?

Are you investing on standing out to new markets when your competition is bunkering down and seeking shelter?

Talk to Thirst Media about taking a moment out of the day to day and reconsidering your business strategy. Find out how to assess your business landscape. Talk to us about how to achieve your business goals.

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