Safann Mac Carthy: How not to waste €20k on marketing

Got a marketing budget? Don’t want to blow it on the wrong things? Marketing expert Safann Mac Carthy from Intonate outlines the basics to getting value out of your marketing budget, however limited.

No matter the industry you’re working in, one truth stands firm across every sector; You’ll never waste money faster than by doing the wrong kind of advertising. However, another inescapable fact is that you won’t grow your business without the right kind of advertising and marketing.

Here are a few hints and tips to ensure the next time you get €20K together for a marketing spend, that you don’t waste it in five days and fall victim to the almighty “boost” button on your favourite social media platform.

In the battle for a sale there are five key obstacles to overcome – no need, no money, no desire, no urgency and no trust

Know your audience

I don’t mean knowing just who the end user is. I mean understand everything that is going on in their world. What is their decision-making process and what are the influencing factors? Who is involved in every stage of a purchase? If you are a B2B seller, then who is else is involved?

Does a Financial controller need to sign off on a PO, does an IT person need to agree an integration process? If you’re more consumer led, then is the spend high enough so that one person will not make the decision alone?

Essentially every single person involved in a decision-making process becomes your customer. You need to speak in a tone and language that they ALL understand.

Internal speak

It’s great when a company understands their product and processes so well that a shorthand or internal language develops. It certainly keeps emails short and sweet. However, when you use these terms externally, you may as well be using an abstract Chinese dialect.

No matter how intelligent you think it makes the message sound, or how you assume that it conveys your unique identity – it doesn’t. If your target market hears something they don’t understand, they’re not going to take the time to research and figure it all out. They’re going to scroll to the next ad quicker than you can say “flick of a thumb!”.

Wrong channels

It’s great to see your company’s name up in lights, isn’t it? Nothing more satisfying that a backlit billboard on the same road where you know your competition travels every day, or where your golf buddies will pass on the way to pat your back before the first nine of the weekend, Right? Only if every target customer you have also travels this road, otherwise, not so much.

Regardless of the channel you use, online, offline, social and yes, even print, the only thing that matters is that it’s located where your customer consumes information, media and advertising.


The rule books will tell you between 8pc to 10pc of revenue should be spent on marketing. Depending on your market position, the awareness of your brand and the competitive nature of your industry, you can expect to slide slightly in either direction. This is when having a practical strategy starts to pay dividends.

Having a clear plan around what it is you’re trying to achieve and how much every sale is worth to you, will help you decide whether you need to take a scattergun or sniper approach. If you need to attract a small number of customers that have a high order value or who could be the advocate you need to reach others in the market, then perhaps they’re worth splurging on with a more personalised plan.

If your revenue growth strategy is more low cost and high volume, you need to choose channels with as wide a reach as possible and the best bang for buck. Whatever the direction, don’t fall into the trap of paying for costly activity that will make the spend hard to live with at the end of the financial year.

Depending on social

Social media is amazing – let me just start with this. It’s surely got the biggest reach of any message delivering system that’s in existence. But it’s also flooded with every product and service on the planet. It provides easy distractions to every user, no matter how engaging they thought your ad or boosted post was and before you know it, they’ve gone down a rabbit hole of videos on footy players, dogs or kids and you’ve lost your chance to gain a new customer.

Social media should absolutely be part of your marketing mix but relying on it solely because you feel a level of comfort around it based on your own personal use, is the path to a high bill, mediocre vanity metrics, few qualified leads and zero sales.

Reputation and brand awareness

This doesn’t need to come at a high cost. No matter the size of the wallet any customer has, few are willing to take a blind leap of faith and throw cash at you. Knowing who is behind a product or service, who else is engaged with your brand, and what successes you have been part of, will give them the piece of mind that they are making the right decision.

In the battle for a sale there are five key obstacles to overcome – no need, no money, no desire, no urgency and no trust. Doing the right research, arming your sales teams with the right material and engaging in the right marketing activities is the only way to win the war.

For more on any of these topics, or to book a strategy session with Intonate, contact Safann at

 Published: 23 October 2019