Small business owners often struggle just to keep the lights on and the bills paid. Their marketing budget is often nonexistent or very minimal. Sales usually are done through friends, family, and personal friendships. However, there does come a time when that no longer drives enough sales and the business needs to expand. At this point, the business owner may try to market the business themselves in order to save money. They buy a few advertisements, spend some money on buying radio spots or television time or perhaps a few newspaper ads. They may even try creating a pay-per-click advertisement on Facebook or Google. Then they sit back and wait for the phone to ring, only to find that it doesn’t. The disappointment and frustration they feel is matched only by the level of concern they have because they’ve spent money that could have been used to purchase inventory or upgrade other items on something that didn’t increase revenue at all or didn’t increase it by much. This is why many business owners begin to develop the idea that marketing isn’t worth the investment.
However, all that they’ve really proven is that bad marketing doesn’t work. Shooting from the hip, failing to do the research, or having someone who knows nothing about marketing in general driving your marketing campaign is a recipe for failure. Here is some advice for getting the most out of your marketing dollars:
1. Before beginning a campaign, decide on a goal
Answer the question, “If this campaign works, my _____ will increase.” Sales is just one way to measure success. Success can be measured by increases in visitors, in contacts, in readership, or in leads. Once a goal has been set for the marketing campaign, the entire campaign should be planned around achieving that goal.
2. Assign a campaign code
When advertising on multiple mediums, such as running an online ad, a print ad, a direct mail campaign, and a radio spot at the same time it can be difficult to figure out which piece of the puzzle is the most successful. Eliminate the problem of trying to figure out which is working best by requiring people to give the code prior to taking advantage of the offer. For example, if it’s a direct mail campaign, require them to bring the postcard in to take advantage of a discount. If it’s a radio spot, have them give the name of the station they were listening to when they heard the ad to get the discount.
3. Check ROI
The ROI is the return on investment. It’s a comparison that allows a business owner to see exactly how much money was spent to achieve the intended goal. If the goal is increased sales, and the company increased sales by 500% but the ROI was so high that money was lost for each sale made, that’s not a sustainable marketing model unless those small sales can be upgraded into larger sales. For instance, some cell phone companies are willing to take a sales loss of $250 for each phone because the ongoing profit margins of cell phone service users is high enough to make it worth the losses.