How much do you spend on your marketing activities each month? For many small businesses, this is an unfamiliar number, although your financial statements might reveal that you are in fact spending some money on marketing. Marketing, the act of gaining attention, interest and desire for your business offerings with a view to get customers to take the action of purchasing your products/services, is a costly exercises, especially for small businesses. For this reason, it is important that you know what results your activities are yielding and turn your marketing spend into an investment rather than an expense.
In essence, if you do not know that whether or not your marketing is working for you, you are probably wasting money, money you cannot afford to waste. So how do you stop this practice and make sure that each cent spent on your marketing activities counts?
Have a plan!
The first and best thing you can do for yourself is to have a plan that answers what you want to achieve (objectives), who you will be marketing to (your customers), what you will be doing (marketing activities e.g. online or offline) and how you will measure your activities to ensure they lead to you achieving your objectives (key performance indicators).
This plan need not be long, but it needs to be there. First, to hold you accountable and secondly to ensure that you are intentional about your actions. To quote our May 2017 Expert in Residence, Zanele Modiba, ‘If you cannot put an income amount to what you are doing, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it’.
Have a budget!
Making a plan is easy, backing your plan with some dollar amounts is the hard part, but then how do you expect to increase your sales or gain customer loyalty if you do not invest in this relationship with your customers? Your budget should include market research (customer surveys), printed material (business cards, brochures, photography etc.), online activities (website costs, Facebook posts etc.) and Customer Care (promotions, give-aways, client meals etc.).
Your budget should be linked to your plan, such that each activity has a number attached to it explaining how much it will cost to execute. Do not make the mistake of underestimating the cost of your activities, and if your overall budget is more than your business can currently afford, consider adapting your plan to include the many inexpensive or free ways that you can market your business.
Measure your progress!
The only way you will know if something is working is if you measure it. Although not everything that counts can be measured, you need to find a way to include the measurement into your plan and use that to track your progress.
To do this, you can follow the following steps:
- Have a spreadsheet that lists your marketing objectives, marketing activities, and key performance indicators (these indicate how you will know you have succeeded).
- Decide on the frequency of your measurement activities. Will you be tracking weekly? Bi-weekly? Monthly? Make sure that the timelines you select are reasonable and allow your marketing activities enough time to gain traction.
- Set aside a time in your calendar as per your measurement timeline and prioritise the measurement process. Use this time, preferably with your team, to decide on which strategies are working and be ready to change the ones that are not working. You do not need to wait until the end of the year to change something that is not working, make changes as needed according to how well your plans are working out.
When you are intentional about where, how and why you spend your money, you are able to turn that spend into an investment – creating an asset that will bring in future income.
Share with us some ways you have managed to get results through your marketing and how you are tracking those results.