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    What I Learned From Spending $5.9 Million on Marketing Last Year


    Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

    Have you ever said the two little words, “good enough” or “I’m good?” The word “good” has become a common cop-out for moving beyond the status quo. But saying to ourselves, “Business is good enough” can be the lock on the door leading to greatness.

    In a way, good is really not good at all. It’s a false sense of achievement that is wrapped up in complacency. When I realized that being okay with “good” was not going to help me achieve my dreams, I changed my mindset and my business’s plan of attack.

    Last year, I decided nothing would get in the way of our expansion and hitting the next level.

    I increased my marketing budget by 5% from 2022 to 2023, and as a result, our revenue increased by 8%, adding over $7 million that year. And that decision is still paying off — revenue is up about 20% so far this year.

    Here are some key moves I’ve made that helped us reach our highest annual revenue ever last year — $104.6 million.

    Related: How to Turn Marketing into a Sales and Revenue Engine

    Direct mail leads generate 600% more revenue per lead than digital sources

    I’ve mailed postcards to advertise my business, PostcardMania, every single week since I started in 1998, and I’ve only ever increased my mailing quantity — with one exception. The only time I cut back was in 2008, and it was a total disaster. Our revenues plunged about 15% the following year.

    Direct mail takes up a large portion of my marketing budget. It isn’t the cheapest way to generate leads, but it’s absolutely irreplaceable in my marketing mix. Postcards generate the highest quality leads among all other lead sources, from organic search to pay-per-click to social media.

    Here’s the proof: In 2023, we generated $229.41 in revenue for every postcard lead while we only generated $37.09 in revenue per lead from pay-per-click. That’s a massive difference of 519% — and six times more revenue! And that’s only taking new orders into consideration, not repeat orders from customers who know and love us.

    And that’s just the revenue we can track directly back to postcards. There are so many more leads that come in from an “organic search” or another source that has been getting our postcards in the mail for years. It’s my belief that there’s a lot more revenue from postcards that’s incorrectly attributed to other sources, but we can save that for another time.

    If you want to take your revenue to the next level, I encourage you to bump up your marketing spend — a 5% spend increase resulted in a 7% revenue increase for me — and consider adding direct mail to your arsenal to 6x your revenue per lead.

    Adding and continually improving live chat increased sales conversations by 16%

    Fewer and fewer people are willing to reach for the telephone these days when they need something. In fact, studies show that most consumers (63%) prefer to use live chat to interact with a business.

    We added live chat to our website in 2016, and it improved our sales conversations (people willing to talk directly to a sales rep) by 16%. However, I don’t advise that you throw up a chatbot and call it a day.

    The success of our live chat system is rooted in the fact that we have real human beings on the other side of the screen. If you’re using bots — even fancy, AI-trained bots — you’re going to run the risk of upsetting prospects and customers who want answers and not a rote regurgitation of the FAQs they can find on your website.

    Last live chat tip: Don’t set it and forget it. Play around with colors, messages and placements, and see which combinations elicit the best response from your website visitors. We replaced a generic message on our thank you pages with a live chat prompt, and it had a great impact on reducing the lag time between when a prospect is on your website and when they’re on the phone with a sales rep.

    Related: 4 Marketing Budget Hacks That Will Boost Your Business in 2024

    Include video in your Meta ads to increase social media leads by 105%

    If you’re a social media user, you’ve probably noticed more and more videos making their way to your main feed. In fact, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed during a recent earnings call that 50% of all people’s time on Meta platforms is now spent consuming video.

    Catching on to this, we decided to put our 139 video case studies — real business owners talking about their successful campaigns — to work for us on Facebook and Instagram. We uploaded lists of our current clients and prospects and generated lookalike audiences similar to our own lists to target with our video ads.

    As a result, our social media leads doubled. In 2022, our average number of social media leads per week was 174, and then in 2023, the average lead count increased to 356 a week! That’s a 105% increase.

    The research is conclusive — video returns are outpacing static images. One recent report found that videos drove almost 30% more clicks than simple static image assets. Another study found that video ads drive 48% higher sales rates than static ads.

    Studies prove it, I’ve tested it myself, but you may be wondering if you have the budget to execute it. There are opportunities for you to incorporate more video advertisements in your marketing strategy at a low cost. We just began offering video ads on both social media and Connected TV channels like Netflix at small business prices.

    By working with the right marketing agency, it is possible to execute a video advertising plan that won’t overwhelm your marketing spend. Plus, the amount of revenue that these video ads are going to be bringing in for you will be well worth the upfront investment.

    Related: 3 Marketing Blind Spots That Are Holding You Back (and How to Fix Them)

    So, are you going to take the blue pill of staying good this year or take the red pill and journey down the more challenging path to greatness? I challenge you to take a closer look at the hard reality of where you can improve for better results and a better business.



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