How to Avoid Wasted Effort and Make the Most of Your Marketing Dollars
We’ve talked with a lot of clients recently who are coming to us fresh off a series of marketing failures. These business owners are understandably frustrated and ready for something new. As we talk over their previous efforts, a familiar pattern emerges. The failed campaigns were almost universally underfunded, given too little time to succeed or were too limited in scope.
In the end, they were a waste of money.
Marketing needs a fighting chance. You can avoid wasting time and money by understanding the basics of what makes a successful campaign.
We all love stories about marketing campaigns that were wildly successful right out of the gate, and it’s great when it happens, but the hard truth is those campaigns are just plain lucky.
Your business needs a marketing strategy, not a lottery ticket.
Think of marketing like a snowball rolling downhill. It takes time and effort at the start but gains speed as those early efforts build momentum and an energy of their own.
Real return on investment comes with time, testing, an adequate budget and flexibility. Bells and whistles, wizardry and luck can be tempting– and some marketing companies capitalize on that to the detriment of their clients. But you don’t have to be one of them.
So, how can you give your marketing the best chance to succeed?
1) Develop clear and achievable goals
While a goal to “raise awareness around our brand” sounds good, it is too generic to be actionable. Set goals that are numeric and time limited. Know what metrics you are interested in achieving and what time frame you hope to achieve them in. Be realistic, but ambitious. A 20% increase in lead volume over the next 6 months? Averaging over 1000 visits to your website in 3 months with a 3-5% conversion rate?
Well-thought-out goals enable your marketing team to allocate resources strategically and get you the most bang for your marketing buck.
2) Set the right expectations
Remember that marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Success takes time. A successful marketing strategy includes time to learn your message to market, time to pinpoint the effective techniques and the freedom to iterate quickly.
Be wary of marketing that advertises as a quick fix. Rule of thumb is to plan on testing your marketing for 6-12 months before you expect to see return on your marketing efforts. Sure, it can feel like a lot of effort to get the ball rolling, but once it’s in motion the benefits multiply quickly.
3) Include marketing and sales in your yearly budget
Sales and marketing are critical to any business’s long-term success– arguably as important as product quality and solid customer service. Don’t base your marketing budget on what’s left over after covering other expenses. This is a common error and one that will virtually ensure there will be little left over to work with.
Of course, we’re not saying everyone needs a million-dollar marketing budget. Successful campaigns come in all shapes and sizes. But it’s important to be realistic in your expectations and not make the mistake of funding a campaign so constrained in budget or scope that it’s set up for failure from the word go.
For planning purposes, note that marketing expenses are not typically flat over time. New businesses (less than 5 years old) should expect to allocate 12-20% of revenue toward marketing. As your business gains a following and has established a presence in your market, costs typically drop to 6-12% of revenue. These marketing dollars go toward everything from websites and ad campaigns to brand development and events. Ultimately, it’s money spent on ensuring the people who want to buy your product can find your business– and keep coming back for more.
4) Plan to adapt
Continually learning from, and adapting, your marketing strategies is the key to long-term success.
Regular testing allows you to see what is working and what is not. You might be spending money on ads that are not pulling their weight, while the advertising from your blog presence is actually what’s driving customer engagement. Testing allows you to see the whole picture and capitalize on the successes. Without a granular view of how campaigns are performing you are left in the dark—and possibly wasting money. That said, if a particular marketing effort isn’t performing like you’d hoped, look for ways to improve on the tactic before ditching it completely. Small changes often make a big difference. Clarify your messaging, brainstorm new tactics and try again.
A marketing campaign that includes regular testing, adequate time and budget and a willingness to be flexible will always provide the best return on investment.
Want to get some fresh eyes on your marketing efforts?
We’re here to help. Since 2011, devEdge Internet Marketing has been helping small businesses find a marketing tactic that works for their business and their budget. We’d be happy to start putting together strategies for your fresh start.
No high-pressure sales. No confusing tech speak. No iffy tactics. We don’t count on luck and we don’t think your business should count on luck.
Give us a call today and let’s talk.