Many SMEs don’t have a dedicated marketing department therefore the development of a marketing strategy often fails to even be considered let alone put into practice. It’s a shame as for many businesses it can play a defining role in turning around their fortunes.
Knowing when you need a marketing strategy is crucial to ensure you don’t leave it too late. We’ve looked at 5 signs you should remain aware of.
#1 Lack of new enquiries into the business
One of the most obvious signs that you need a marketing strategy is if you aren’t generating many new enquiries. If you are working at full capacity and have intentionally not looked for new business then that’s fine, but those with capacity and a stagnant or falling level of income should be looking at their marketing efforts to turn things around.
Through developing a marketing strategy you’ll be able to identify why you aren’t generating enough leads. Is it as a result of using the wrong marketing channels? Is it due to having a poorly constructed website? Are you targeting the wrong clientele? These kinds of queries will most likely be cleared up allowing you to distinguish and overcome the root cause.
#2 When you get busy, your marketing activity stops
A time when many owners fail to recognise the need for a marketing strategy is when their business is doing well. However within many SMEs the success and increased trade of a business is likely to take up more time for the individuals working within it, and often one of the first few areas which suffers is the marketing with other operations taking precedent.
While this might not cause an issue in the short term, chances are that eventually demand will tail off without the necessary marketing taking place. A marketing strategy can help you sustain your growth and clearly outline how and where to spend your marketing budget, ensuring you give yourself the best chance of realising your full potential.
If you find yourself too busy to develop your own marketing strategy you can get support externally. At Opportunity Marketing we work regularly alongside SMEs to not only develop but also help them implement their marketing strategies, with our primary concern around delivering visible results.
#3 Spending a lot with little return
Marketing can come at a major cost IF it isn’t done correctly. If you find yourself spending money on your marketing but failing to see the necessary returns from it in terms of revenue then you should stop what you’re doing. Continuously doing something that doesn’t work won’t suddenly change your fortunes, you need to reassess where things are going wrong.
A marketing strategy will not only help to identify which channels to focus on but also how much you should be spending on your marketing to acquire new customers. This is done by looking at figures such as the average lifetime value of your customers and the conversion rate of leads through various marketing channels. Your marketing strategy should then allow you to establish roughly how much you should be spending on average to acquire each new customer, ensuring you aren’t spending more than what they’re likely to be worth and granting a positive return on investment in the process.
#4 Failing to hit financial targets
If you’re failing to hit your financial targets then it’s clear that you’re marketing isn’t working hard enough for you. In these cases you should be looking to identify where the problem is occurring within the sales funnel. It could be a matter of not generating enough enquiries or simply failing to convert enquiries into sales.
A solid marketing strategy will allow you to better monitor your current performance and make it easier to distinguish where the problem area lies. This is because you’ll have forecasted targets for the number of enquiries you require along with the conversion rate which you should be hitting – and thus will be able to measure this against your current performance.
Having a marketing strategy and measurable targets will in turn encourage smarter spending on your marketing as knowing what results you need to achieve will help you understand which marketing activities you should be spending on. Additionally it will also allow you to closely monitor the success of your marketing. This proactive approach of staying on top of the performance of your business on a monthly and even weekly basis should ultimately lead to an increase in return on investment from your marketing.
#5 Struggle to define your business offering succinctly
If you’re struggling to define your business then chances are you aren’t hitting anywhere near the kind of potential you could be. Do you have a clearly defined offering and target demographic? If not then there’s a strong possibility that you’re not only using the wrong marketing channels to target your customers but you could well be targeting the wrong market all together.
By assessing both internal and external factors relevant to your business, a marketing strategy will give you more direction and purpose to help you understand which target market your product is best suited to. Developing a better understanding of your market environment along with your competitors should allow you to better gauge if there are gaps or potential opportunities to capitalise on certain target audiences.
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