The great debate in business is whether Marketing is an investment or expense. Unfortunately without solid measurement and results, marketing is determined to be just an expense that ultimately is expendable. This is due in part to marketers focusing more on the art of marketing and not the science behind it.
As a small business owner, you don’t have time to test this hypothesis. You need tangible results, and in most cases, quickly. Here’s a simple formula that can help you focus on the science behind your marketing investment.
Henry Ford proved that having solid processes can lead to efficiency and mass production. Evaluate and document each step of your business activities from general operational procedures to how you follow up on leads and onboard new customers. Look for ways to increase efficiency along the way. This might require an initial or ongoing investment in software or technology. When deciding whether or not to make this investment, make sure you consider the decrease in labor required and the increased production and profit you’ll gain short term and long term.
Marketing or should I say Promotion, one of the 4 P’s of the Marketing Mix, is not just about Advertising, Public Relations and Sponsorships. You have to incorporate Personal Selling. Once you have identified your ideal customer, look for lead sources like infoUSA or Sales Genie so that you can specifically target that individual. You want names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses that will allow you to contact them on an ongoing basis. Here’s a tip: Don’t bombard them with sales literature. Educate them on changes in your industry, give them useful information beyond the scope of your business, and most importantly, celebrate the holidays with them. You will be able to track your results as these contacts convert to customers by matching your lead and customer databases. Please make sure that you scrub your contact list against the National Do Not Call Registry and follow the laws around telemarketing to avoid any costly fines.
Business owners understand the need to generate awareness of their business and products/services. The challenge is determining the best methods and appropriate investment levels. The general rule is to invest 2 – 4% of your gross annual revenue in marketing activities. However, if that only equates to $1,500 for the year, you should not look to spend it all on a few radio spots on your favorite station. With advances in online, social and digital media, you can specifically geo-target markets and types of consumers that you want to reach. I recommend hiring a marketing company like Integraphix that specializes in search engine optimization (SEO) to develop your website and improve your search results in Google. They can also assist you in leveraging social media to improve search and connect with your customers and prospects.
We all attend networking functions and join organizations, but most of us do not know how to truly network in these settings. After joining BNI, the World’s largest business networking organization, I now understand the principles behind networking and how to ask for the referrals that I need to grow my business. Look for local BNI chapters to visit. Keep in mind this is a time commitment and only works if you completely get engaged for the long term, but just as investing in technology for efficiencies, you must invest in yourself to grow your business as well.
To borrow an often used cliché, if you fail to plan you plan to fail, so what is your PLAN?
I would like to offer you a complimentary consultation to discuss your PLAN. For $500, I can develop a customized and measurable marketing strategy with a step-by-step plan to drive the results that your business needs. Additionally, I can connect you with my business partners like Integraphix to develop the consistent branding and internet presence your business needs to compete.