-the business owner’s personal experience
-the research and time spent on examining potential marketing strategies
-trial and error
If the business owner has had previous experience running a business or marketing one, they will have a much higher chance of success and probably get a better ROI on their marketing than inexperienced business owners. This article serves to address such marketing insights as well as to further explore areas which are often neglected by smaller business.
Many people don’t actually set out to become business owners but fall into it due to necessity such as a job loss and prolonged unemployment. Such situations aren’t exactly the perfect situation to start a business largely because of lack of planning, a financial pressure that may force the decision making process, and most likely smaller financial resources.
As businesses are forced into tough situations due to the economy, they tend to rely more on luck and feel by trial and error rather than make smarter data driven decisions.
However, these times require an even greater examination into what is feasible and necessary and not fall into certain marketing traps.
Here are common business marketing traps:
-investing into marketing without doing the proper research
-investing a marketing budget with a company that promises a lot for very little
-thinking that if you build it they will come
-investing into many marketing activities without a strategy hoping something will stick
Business often lose sight of who they really are because they never actually sat to think about what they wanted to accomplish to begin with. Goals that are very general leave too much room for uncertainty. For example:
“I want my business to make enough money to pay for itself and be a great source of income”
Writing this down is actually a step ahead of most people that don’t ever have these goals except in their minds. This goal statement is too general, and it does not narrow down the steps you need to take to accomplish it.
A better goal would be:
“I want to increase sales to $25,000/month and have 100 active clients/month in the next 6 months.”
This is a much more concise goal and it sets a time limit. This will take us down the path of finding out where to invest our marketing budget and what metrics define it as a success.
Next, let’s try to avoid the first trap of investing into marketing without the proper research. Every business has their traditional sources of income or generating new prospects. The first step in putting together a marketing plan is determining where the current business is coming from and gather the data around those metrics:
-What percentage of business comes from what segment (word of mouth, networking, mailer, etc.). If you get a lot of business from your website, dissect that even more through your analytics and determine where you website business is coming from (Search Engines, Directory Listings, CPC, etc.)
Put the information into an excel sheet and draw up a pie chart if you wish to better visualize your current income sources. This is a fantastic step and it will help us move on to the next which will be:
-Determine your ROI for each of these channels. If you are currently spending money on different forms of advertising, determine how much revenue you are getting from those sources compared to your investment.
-Look for marketing vendors for each marketing segment. Look at your pie chart from above and start with your largest slice of the pie. Next look at your ROI for those segments and determine whether you are actually spending enough money or too much money in those areas.
-Next, contact some of the vendors for those marketing channels and get data from them. The last thing you want to do is take a cookie cutter package from companies that tell you that you need a package you don’t feel will bring the proper return. Ideally by contacting vendors from each of these marketing channels you will actually get data for your own purposes:
-Find out where your target market is going. In online search, it is fairly easy to quickly gage the online demand for your product or services. If you already have website traffic, look at where your traffic is coming from currently. If you do not have any traffic and your research suggests that a high percentage of search demand is online, make sure you make it a high priority to target that segment with a campaign.
-Finally, take all the data you currently have and position your goals around something that is realistic. Determine what size of investment it will take to reach a certain position. Create a small test campaign and then base your larger investments based on that test result.
If you take a disciplined approach to tackling the marketing challenge you will not only save yourself a lot of money, but your professionalism will show through your marketing ROI as it will be higher. Always make decisions based on available information. If you are facing an investment that will represent your entire budget, make sure you have that information at hand and at least some data to go by as it will save you a lot of stress and take some of the guess work out.
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