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What Marketing Would You Do with $1.5 Billion?

What Would You Do with 1.5 Billion

Tonight’s Powerball drawing is sitting at $1.5 billion. With so much money up for grabs, over half a billion tickets have been sold. Everyone dreams of winning the lottery, even if it’s not a record-setting jackpot. You could pay off your loans, buy a house and live in the lap of luxury.

It’s not just individuals who dream of suddenly having that much money. Just ask any entrepreneur: Every business owner wonders what they would do if their company’s budget was just boosted by a few extra zeroes. So our CEO, Chris, got to thinking: What would he do if he won the lottery and put it towards a marketing budget?

Laying Down the Groundwork

Let’s first lay some ground rules for this fantasy. First of all, this is assuming we take the jackpot lump sum and pay off all of the taxes and fees that come with it. Including our local, county and state taxes, that leaves us with, say, $506 million (that’s right, the government gets a bigger cut than you do). Even so, that is a larger marketing budget than most companies’ annual revenue. Not too shabby.

Next, let’s discuss what marketing means. For many, it simply means buying ads, revving up the SEO engine and getting your company’s name out there. While that is certainly important, it’s so much more than that. Marketing is anything you do to further the cause of any business or individual.

With those rules in mind, this is what Chris would do, from his point of view:

Hitting the Books

First, I’d take a full year to study global trends. I want to know where populations are merging over the next 20 to 50 years. For instance, the US, Asia and Europe are all shrinking in size, whereas Africa is expected to come close to doubling by 2050. When you have almost half a billion dollars, this becomes rather important.

In that same year, I would begin to study and probably hire two or three experts in emerging technologies. Getting these people on my payroll to forecast past, present and future technologies and run sustainability studies is critical. In the same light, I’d go hang out in incubators down at Georgia Tech and see who’s doing what and why. Numbers can only tell you so much; I’m also interested in the people behind technology.  

Total cost: $1 million
Remaining balance: $505 million

Make It Rain

Next, I’d take 50 percent of the remaining money, $252.5 million, and invest it in a myriad of emerging technology companies that were set to grow into the expanding population markets. I’d assign another 25 percent of it to invest in the marketing of these companies, leaving me with $126.25 million just in case everything goes to hell. I’m also assuming that these tech companies will start with strong sales in existing markets like the US and Europe, so it’s not all just about the future markets.

Right about here it becomes a little murky, as we have no way of knowing if these companies are public or private, what the stock prices and performance would be, etc. — so let’s not go there. Instead, the question is what would I do with the $126.25 million in the marketing of these companies. Here I’m looking for a minimum 20 percent return on my investment, year over year. I want to spend $125 million in marketing and get back $150 million for year one, $180 million for year two and so on. While it will be a pleasant surprise for one to explode from the pack, 20 percent is a good, conservative estimate.

I’d also buy up as many industry-related domains as I could get my hands on. Then I would turn my attention to GTLDs (Generic Top Level Domains) and see what blocks of them I could scoop up with my fortune. Next would be pairing up my company investments with my new domains, careful to choose only one as the new URL for each of my new companies and keep the others as investments (or perhaps as side projects).

Total cost: $379.75 million
Remaining balance: $126.25 million

Rising to the Top

Moving forward, I’d spend 3 to 4 months with my planning team working on “The Why” of each company and put in place a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that would consist of almost obscene amount of content. This includes:

  • PR outreach strategy
  • Pay Per Click
  • Funnel development
  • Conversion analytics
  • Advanced link building and content outreach
  • Video creation
  • Email marketing
  • E-commerce
  • Very possibly building an Affiliate Marketplace for each brand and split test for about 4 straight months. The idea is that I want to come out with very clear marketing metrics.

At the same time, I’d spend a few million dollars with a branding agency who can work with us on our messaging and brand. At this level more than any other, your image and message has to be in lock step with your content and cause.

Total cost: $384.25 million
Remaining balance: $121.75 million

Let It Grow

Based on the results, together with my team I’d hire more talent (including top notch developers) who can grow from a strong base and keep a close eye on all things SEO/Digital. With this kind of budget, we should have the best content, supported by the best PR producing the best links that should make it rain with organic traffic and a PPC campaign that crushes with conversion all flowing into a brilliantly managed sales funnel.

While the Digital/SEO is doing its thing, I’d also have a separate team developing the apps. I think of apps as the future, and while this team would be included in the marketing meetings, I’d want them working as a separate group — I see it as a discipline unto itself.

Perhaps now or maybe in the earlier stages I would look at a few company acquisitions that could expedite market penetration for each of my brands.

Finally, once the online presence has been established and is giving me at least 20 percent return, and only then, would I turn my attention to TV advertising. Perhaps I’m just used to B2B, but until a brand can be established online, I won’t spend a dime on TV advertising.

Total cost: $320 million
Remaining balance: $100 million to reinvest


Of course, we don’t have a half billion dollar budget, but a CEO can dream, and so can you! Tell us in the comments below what you would do with a $420 million marketing budget!