News & Views

Fast ways to maximize your leftover marketing budget

Photo collage of hourglass surrounded by marketing messages printed on a laptop, mobile phone, whitepaper, and brand guidelines brochure.

As the year winds to a close, marketing departments are assessing their budgets and realizing they have some money left to spend. Don’t assume it’s too late to work with an agency or other outside resource. Here are ideas for quick projects that can be started and finished with some outside help in just a matter of weeks.

Optimize your strategy

1. SEO and digital strategy
Digital best practices are always changing. To keep up, organizations need to regularly refresh their web content and social media strategy. But many lack the in-house resources or skill set required to conduct a thorough audit and implement changes. Consider using an outsider to help determine:

  • If your website is optimized for search engines, and if not, what the low-hanging fruit is that can be tweaked quickly for a big impact. This could mean selecting just a handful of pages to optimize near term, or adding ALT text to all your images.
  • If you’re using the latest platform best practices for your social media. For example, posting thought leadership articles as native to LinkedIn and having a comprehensive hashtag strategy.
  • How your digital marketing strategy performed this year, and what are the best ideas for getting more out of it next year.

2. Brand guidelines
Ensure that everyone at your organization is entering the new year on the same page when it comes to the tone, look, and feel of your brand with a revised brand style guide. That can take many forms: Updating existing brand guidelines to reflect changes that were made but not documented. Expanding them because the current set lacks depth or specificity. Or compiling various rules (spoken and unspoken) into a central resource.

It might surprise you to know that you can hire a firm just to create your brand style guide; they don’t have to be the same one that originally developed your branding. For example, Thinkso created a 130-page brand guide for renowned educational and cultural icon, Sesame Street Workshop. It includes an articulation of brand attributes and other foundational treatments, as well as technical specifications for domestic and global additions. As a result, their partners, vendors, affiliates, and internal team are able to produce cohesive materials.

3. Core values
Core values are, well, core to your organization. As your company grows and changes, it’s natural for your core values to grow and change with it. Refreshing your core values might seem like a big undertaking, but with guidance from an experienced agency the process can be efficient and meaningful.

Thinkso has a structured, off-the-shelf process for updating core values to help organizations ensure that their stated tenets genuinely reflect their internal and external culture, priorities, and vision. Using Thinkso’s process, you can enter the new year with evolved values that reflect the current state of your organization — and a brand that reflects those core values.

Take the long view

4. Editorial and social media calendars
Right now is a great time to create a calendar for your editorial content or social media posts for the upcoming year. Of course, any good calendar will have flexibility to shift and change in accordance with industry trends and current events, but starting the year with a well thought out calendar is key to ensuring a cohesive communications strategy. Maximize the effectiveness of your editorial and social calendars by first identifying what worked and didn’t work this year. Strapped for time? Outsource it. This is a project that an agency can quickly help you with.

5. Thought leadership content
Producing high-quality thought leadership — and posting it consistently — is crucial to brand visibility and establishing your organization as an industry leader. However, it can be difficult to find time throughout the year to consistently create content.

Take advantage of your remaining budget to hire a resource to ghostwrite a stockpile of thought leadership — and the social assets to promote it. Focus on evergreen content that is not tied to timely events such as market trends or news items. Package your organization’s institutional knowledge and best practices — the stuff that comes up over and over for you with your clients and customers.

With the right partner, the process can be easy and efficient. Thinkso helps social sector recruiting firm On-Ramps with their thought leadership on a regular basis. We interview their subject matter experts and then craft compelling, succinct, search-optimized articles and promotional social assets. For most organizations, the issue is never what to say, but rather having the resources to get it done. By outsourcing it, On-Ramps is able to consistently share their industry insights so that they’re demonstrating their experience and expertise, rather than just claiming it.

In addition to having a treasure trove of content to post throughout this year, outsourcing thought leadership creation frees up your team to focus on time-sensitive needs and long-term strategy.

Create bespoke assets

6. Infographics
Now is the perfect time to invest in the creation of an infographic that gives your brand visibility while educating your audiences.

Infographics are a quick and compelling way to tell a complex story in an engaging, memorable, and digestible format. Take for example, Singing Pastures, a network of small family farms that sustainably and humanely raises pork, while minimizing their climate impact. To explain regenerative farming, their core methodology, to potential customers, Thinkso created an infographic that compares regenerative farming to conventional farming. Using a comparison was a more effective way to show the benefits of regenerative farming than just explaining it on its own. Illustrating the content made it more relatable for a broader audience.

Infographics can be used on social media, your website, in brochures, as part of a report, or even for in-person (or Zoom) presentations and at any time over the course of the year. You’ll get a lot of mileage out of this single asset.

7. New Years ecard
If you’re reading this in November, it’s likely too late to use your remaining budget to create a company holiday ecard. Our animated cards take a good three months from start to finish. However, there’s still time to create a New Year’s ecard. And by sending it the first week of January, you’ll stand apart from the chaos of the holidays and reach your audiences when they are fresh and focused.

Want to stand out even more? Get the ball rolling on a Valentine’s Day ecard or get ready to highlight green initiatives with an Earth Day greeting. Sending a card for a non-December holiday will be memorable and signal creativity.

Kickoff a project for next year early

If you can’t squeeze in a project that will start and finish before the year’s out, you always have the option of pre-paying an agency for a project that will be worked on mostly in the new year.

8. ESG reports
Even if you don’t yet have all the data, you can still start planning out your ESG report with help from a creative agency. ESG reports have become increasingly crucial to businesses across sectors, but they are often lengthy and hard to fully comprehend. A well-thought out, engaging ESG report can really help your organization stand out from its competitors.

9. Conferences, galas, and big events
If your organization plans on hosting a big event, chances are you know it’s happening months in advance. Use your leftover budget to work with a creative agency like Thinkso to craft a theme or concept and start laying the groundwork for a deeply memorable event that goes beyond the typical conference or gala, such as KCG’s annual conference, Unconvention.

Interested in working on one of these projects or have other end of year plans we can help with? Contact us at to get started.