It’s that time of the year again, when the fun of the holidays meets the end-of-year rush.   And this finds many marketing professionals wondering how to spend every penny of their marketing budget, or fear losing it for the next term.  So what will be an intelligent investment, that will help set you up for success in 2013?  Don’t waste your dollars on the traditional imprinted gifts or stocking up on paper.   Here are four marketing investments that will help you maximize the impact on your sales pipeline.

Refresh your Branding

It may the perfect time to invest in your look and feel.  You can use your extra dollars to pay a good graphic designer to freshen up one of your logos or provide a touch-up to your website.  Or perhaps you can create more professional templates for your emails or newsletters.  According to the Direct Marketing Association, about 85% of prospective customers go to your website to learn about your company before a buying decision is made.  So make sure to look your best to begin the New Year with a bang!

Lock in Low Prices

The end of the year also means many vendors are aching to reach their sales targets, so they will provide very attractive savings in order to win your business.  For example, if your next year marketing strategies include meetings, events or trade shows, you should look for great deals on such popular portable display staples as pop-up displays.  These can be easily integrated into your marketing initiatives, even if you are not sure exactly what your plans are for next year.  You can even just purchase the items and have them printed later in the year, so you can take advantage of great prices.

Motivate your Sales Team

Sales road warriors are always in need of great visual marketing materials to make a lasting impression during their meetings.  Surprise them with new retractable banner stands – these are inexpensive, pack compactly and you can update graphics easily.  They can provide a great boost to help your sales team reach their targets.  Plus, they will have a lasting impact on your future lead generation results.

Get Social

If you have not yet started working on your social media strategy, it’s a good time to start.  The centerpiece of your strategy should be your blog, and its also one of the simplest ways to start. A good structured blog helps generate new sales leads, informs prospective customers beyond product descriptions, and more importantly contributes significantly to search traffic.  So go ahead and splurge on a customized template and hire a professional writer to get some intelligent industry related content that will make your presentation more relevant with your audience.

Test the Waters

Wondering if lower prices may help you convert more leads?  Or perhaps you need to communicate your services differently?  You can invest your left-over budget in marketing testing, which now a days can be done without fancy research consultants and a high price tag.  Online advertising, AKA Google Adwords, is a great way to do targeted promotions to specific audiences, with a pre-defined limited budget.  You can do test campaigns to figure out the answers to your product, price and promotional questions.

The key take away here is that wise marketing investments at the end of the year can provide a boost in sales and  anticipate your marketing programs for the next year, setting you up for a great start in 2013.