Think twice before cutting your marketing budget in a tough economic environment

Although no surprise – we do not agree, and as strategic marketing partners urge business owners to rethink this strategy. Instead of asking how much to cut your marketing budget by, ask yourself how much should your business allocate to marketing?

Well-known American entrepreneur and marketing thought leader, Seth Godin, explains: “If you are marketing from a fairly static annual budget, you’re viewing marketing as an expense. Good marketers realise that it is an investment.”

At a time when more than half the South African population is actively looking for information online, it’s never been more important for your brand to stand out from the crowd in the digital space.

It’s tricky to find relevant local statistics, so we’ve taken a look at the suggested spend guidelines from Chicago based marketing specialists Nuphoriq, to suggest how much we believe small to medium sized South African business should be allocating to their marketing needs.

So how much should you be spending?

According to Nuphoriq, your marketing budget – which includes marketing, advertising, public relations, promotions and any ‘marketing’ related events – should be about 5% of your sales revenue. (Keep in mind that the 5% is not a static percentage and will have to change from year to year, depending on your business needs.)

This is relatively conservative considering that U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending up 7 – 8% of your gross revenue for marketing and advertising, if your revenue is less than US$5 million and your net profit margin is in the 10 – 12% range.

It’s also important to note that start-ups and new businesses will need to allocate 12 – 20% to launch their brand in the public sphere.

So the bottom line is that the sweet spot is somewhere between 5 – 20% of revenue – depending on the stage of your business journey, your profit margin, and how aggressive your growth targets are.

The basic marketing foundation for any business includes:

  • Branding
  • Marketing strategy
  • Website design and development

Each of these elements is a core focus of our service offering here at Yellow Door – so check out our portfolio section to see examp­­­les of our recent work.

With your website being the first touch point for your brand, it is essential your site is up to date and correctly reflects your brands objective – this is in terms of best design practices, technical maintenance and software updates, as well as general web trends. With online trends continuously evolving, your website should be updated every 2 to 3 years – and these years will require more than the suggested 5% in order to execute effectively. We also try to practice what we preach, so have recently revamped our own WordPress website – check it out and let us know what you think:

So, this begs the next question…

How should you allocate your marketing budget?

Step 1: Set marketing goals

In order to allocate your budget effectively, you will need to identify your goals. We suggest selecting two or three key goals with predefined success measures so that you can evaluate your marketing efforts performance post implementation.

Common ones include:

  • Increase targeted leads to the website – measured by success of digital marketing and Google Ads campaigns
  • Increased conversions – measured by number of enquiries/ subscriptions
  • Increase online sales – measured by sales revenue

Step 2: Check your marketing foundation

In order to reach your goals your need to have a solid marketing foundation.

Check your brand, website, communication pieces and reporting systems to ensure:

  • You have a clear, up-to-date brand that properly represents your company and consistently generates the same brand image for consumers
  • Your brand has a consistent look and feel across all marketing platforms
  • Your website is a cut above competitors in your area
  • You have the correct tools and systems in place to measure the success of your marketing investment
  • You have a solid strategy for business development and marketing related to it.

Note: any weaknesses identified in this step need to be addressed before allocating spend – as it is more than likely that extra funding will be required to address these weaknesses.

Step 3: Spend

With a sound marketing foundation, goals set and success measures in place, you can then begin to allocate your marketing budget.

A brand’s needs will differ from month to month, and depending on their objectives, but here is a rough idea to use as a starting point to allocate your budget:

If you’re in need of a website upgrade, a revised marketing strategy or just need advice on how to launch your brand online then pop us a mail on and let’s chat.

5 ways to measure PR success

A key trick in the magic box of marketing is public relations, more commonly referred to as PR. And in our holistic approach at Yellow Door, PR is often integrated into our digital marketing strategy. We love coming up with newsworthy angles and pitch them to relevant publications on behalf of our clients.

The measurement method, and often the KPI for PR service providers, is Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE). Quintessentially this metric advises clients what they would’ve paid in advertising value to feature in a certain publication, online or broadcast channel.

The argument of whether or not the metric is an effective way to measure PR success started around five years ago (at least locally), however the evolvement to find a new solution for tracking success has been relatively slow as industry experts sit divided on the matter.

This past month, a couple of our clients were featured in respected online publications and broadcast channels. Thinking it would be impressive to include an AVE figure of the coverage received off the back of our efforts in our month end reports, I consulted the publications to enquire what the estimated AVE would be. To my surprise, three out of the four media houses responded with a similar retort: “Excuse my ignorance but what is AVE?”

This got me thinking. Sure, including a large number on paper can make you look impressive to clients when you can boast you’ve saved them over R100k in ad spend; however, is AVE an effective, and better yet, a fair way of measuring PR success? In my opinion, no.

So how do we track the success of this marketing tool?

Here are five ways that we can measure, without AVE, the effectiveness of a PR campaign:

1. Media impressions:

Asking an online publication for the number of media impressions received is a good start. How many people read your story?

2. Press clippings:

Another way to assess your PR efforts is to keep track of the number of publications (online or print) that mention your brand. Although be warned to not get caught up in quantity over quality. It is vital that your name is appearing in titles relevant to your target audience.

3. Website traffic:

Measuring the amount of traffic your website receives before and after pitching a press statement to media is a good indicator of reaching a desired market. Analysing spikes in website traffic should give you a good idea if the results were off the back of your PR efforts.

4. Lead generation:

If your brand is being spoken about in relevant media titles, it should directly result in leads. To find out how new customers heard of your company and service offering, simply ask them.

5. Social media:

Following a pitch, keep an eye on your social media following to track whether or not there in an increase in followers. Social media measurements should also focus on conversations about your brand, as well as social communities in your industry.

So next time you want to measure the success of a media pitch or PR campaign keep these measurements in mind. It certainly removes the pressure of having to present a big fat Rand figure to bean counting business owners and, in my opinion at least, is a more effective way of evaluating your success.

If you’d like to find out more about our PR offering at Yellow Door, please pop me an email at

EQ vs IQ in the workplace

EQ vs IQ in the workplace

By Sarah Brownlee

Posted on 22nd May 2019

“At the end of the day, we are humans dealing with humans!” I have no idea who uttered this ingenious sentence but never were truer words spoken.

I’ve been lucky to work in a variety of different companies with a mix of different people and management styles. The one thing that has always struck me in my personal experiences, especially in the more corporate spaces, is how the value of EQ or emotional quotient is undermined. 

No doubt EQ’s ugly sister, IQ, makes us look good on paper. The endless list of our skills, capabilities, strengths and accomplishments – but that’s pretty much where it ends.

With businesses increasingly dependent on collaboration, compromise and negotiation, the importance of emotional intelligence cannot be undermined. EQ can make or break our work environment, client relationships and our ability to successfully communicate with our colleagues.

A study conducted by TalentSmart found that 90% of top performers have a high emotional intelligence, with EQ responsible for 58% of your job performance.

Behind the Yellow Door both intelligences are highly regarded. In fact, every second Friday we put aside 30 minutes as a team to take an online PQ (Positive Intelligence Quotient) Assessment. This particular test measures the percentage of time that your mind serves you as opposed to sabotages you.

The test is useful, as it is a launchpad into managing your own emotions and building on what has been identified as the 6 pillars to building a stronger emotional intelligence.

1. Self-awareness

Recognising and managing your own emotions is a key pillar in emotional intelligence. Managing and being able to adjust your emotional behaviour to a situation enables you to influence the emotions of others.

2. Empathy

Empathy is ranked second. When you’re able to decipher and recognise the feeling of others, you’re able to show that you understand where they’re coming from and in turn, gain their respect.  

3. Self-regulation

By learning to control and manage your emotions, especially your impulses, you are able to prepare yourself for emotional self-management.

4. Motivation

Emotionally intelligent people are motivated to look at a problem and find a resolution in a calm and rational way.

5. Social skills

Being able to easily talk and connect with others is a key ingredient to achieve a higher EQ. Being socially aware and engaging demonstrates that you really care about others and not just about your own personal gain.

6. Happiness

Happy people accomplish more tasks than those who are sad or depressed. It is also important to note that emotionally intelligent people have the ability to control their mood to serve their purpose, motivating them to find more solutions to problems.

As we continue the quest to a higher EQ, let us remember the wise words of Maya Angelou: “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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Q&A with Sarah Brownlee

Q&A with Sarah Brownlee

By Sarah Brownlee

Posted on 3rd April 2019

Reading time: 4 minutes

I’m Sarah Brownlee. Hailing from a small town in the Eastern Cape, I’ve been a resident in the beautiful Mother City for the past five years. A lover of fine wine, engaging conversation and interpretive dance – I love to spend hours soaking up the sun and sea on the exquisite beaches of the Cape. When not beaching, you can spot me running on the promenade, cycling Suikerbossie, exploring the mountains or sipping on a fine Chenin with friends.

What is your position in the YDC team?

Marketing strategist and account manager

How would you describe your role?

Strategic thinker, brand builder and compelling content creator.

When did you start working at YDC?

Monday 1st April #ThreeDaysNew 😊

What part of your job do you enjoy most?

It’s still early days, but strategising enticing ways to initiate audience engagement with a brand excites me a lot.

What part of your role do you find the most challenging?

At the moment, it would be getting acquainted with the different systems and procedures followed in day to day account management.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the YDC team?

Its super exciting to be a part of an energetic, talented and passionate team of creatives. It’s great to see the different dynamic each member brings to the team.

What do you do when you’re stuck for inspiration?

Go for a run to clear my head – I tend to conjure up my best ideas/ campaigns whilst pounding it out on the pavement.   

What is your pre-work routine?

A run on the promenade or spinning class. Starting the day with a fresh sea breeze restores the soul. One of the fore mentioned followed by a cuppa Mastersons (Eastern Cape’s finest) coffee 😉

If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why?

I’m not that well acquainted with superheros but if Game of Thrones characters can be considered I’d want to be Khaleesi, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons. Who wouldn’t want to leap onto a wild animals back and fly around saving lives and conquering land.

What’s your favourite way to spend a weekend?

A combo of a long run/ cycle with my husband, walking our pup in the forest followed by fine wine and catching up with good friends. With one evening dedicated to Netflix and chillin’ 😉

What music do you like to listen to while working?

It’s very dependent on what I’m doing… if I need to concentrate I put on some chilled house or instrumental music. If I’m doing a mundane task that requires less focus, I pump up the Tomorrow Land remixes.

Introvert or extrovert?

Extrovert – I love getting to know people, hearing about their journey and finding out their stories (and sharing my own of course 😉)

Cats or dogs?

Definitely dogs. I’m even mother to a fur-baby boxer fondly known as Mumford.

Shoes or barefoot?

Barefoot all the way.

What’s your favourite spot on Kloof Street?

Bombay Bicycle Club. I went there for the first time at the end of last year and it was love at first site/ bite. Swings around a bar and chocolate chilli steak… what more could you want from life?

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