November 2011’s Top 5 Marketing Tips

Below are this month’s top 5 marketing tips for November 2011 – simple tips to help you improve the effectiveness of your marketing.

1. Value your time – I am more commonly hearing business owners say that they are not investing in more traditional methods of marketing because new media such as Social Media is “free”.

In terms of capital outlay, indeed social media as a channel is appealing as there are no up-front costs.  However social media is by no means “free”.

As with any marketing activity you must test and measure your return from it.  Try this exercise over the next month and then decide how well social media as a marketing channel fits with your business goals.  For the next four weeks keep a daily note of how many minutes per day you are spending on social media – creating content, building connections, commenting on status etc across all the main sites such as Twitter, Linked In and Facebook.

At the end of each week add up how many minutes you have spent and divide this by 60 to give you an hourly figure (you may be in for a shock).

Then multiply your hourly rate by this figure to provide you with an “opportunity cost” of how much that time is worth to the business.  If you do not work on a basic hourly rate simply take your average monthly profit figure from the last 6 months and divide this by 168 (based on 21 working days and 8 hours a day).

Then take a look at the sales (and more importantly the profit) that this channel has brought into the business over the same period.  Has that activity generated a positive return on investment?

Don’t get sucked into the mindset that because there is no physical outlay of cash that it is not costing you anything.  In addition, you will find that you will end up spending more time on these channels because they are enjoyable.  Discipline yourself and remember that hourly rate!

2. Reflect before dismissing – As mentioned within Tip 1 it is critical to test and measure all marketing activity that you undertake to evaluate whether the investment has been worthwhile.

Have you had a positive return from it?  If the answer is no – don’t dismiss that marketing channel straight away.  First of all spend some time working out why it did not work.

Was the communication targeted at a specific audience?  Was this the audience that the communication reached?  Did the communication look good and have impact or was it very wordy?  Was there a clear message, did it convey client benefits?

Was there a clear and strong call to action?  Was there a follow up process? If not, should there have been?  You see it is all so very easy to dismiss a channel such as e-mail marketing, social media, online, leaflet door drops, direct mail, events and advertising as not working – but unless you work out why the channel did not work you are likely to make the same mistakes again.

Before dismissing it, ask yourself those questions and if you answered no to any of them, then go back and try and refine it.  It may need redesigning, rewording, or perhaps the data set you are sending it to needs filtering down.  It may be that the channel is wrong for you – but make sure before you write it off.  Also remember, what  works for other businesses may not necessarily work for you!

3. Make it obvious – It is estimated that the average consumer (whatever that is) is exposed to around 3500-5000 marketing messages per day.

This is a phenomenal amount of information we absorb on a daily basis, quite often subconsciously.  This means that in order for your brand or product to stand out, irrespective of whether you are in a business to business or consumer environment, your message needs to hit home what you are trying to say.

I lose count of how many logo’s, company names and identities who I see on a daily basis who fail to do this.  To give yourself any chance in the marketplace the key is to make it obvious what you do as a business.  If your company name itself does not clearly convey what the business does then make sure that it is always displayed with a clear strapline that does.

The signage on your building, the livery on your vehicles, your stationery, and your email footer all provide you with a marketing opportunity to project your brand.  Make sure you don’t miss a massive trick by trying to be too clever.  Keep it obvious and make it simple.  Only when your brand is widely known and recognised can you consider dropping the descriptive.

4. Work backwards – Quite often when companies approach me to help them with their marketing they haven’t yet established what they are trying to do – they have not set any goals for the business.

I struggle with this because if there are no measurable goals to be compared against how do you know whether what you are doing is effective.  Start with the end goal and work backwards – whether this is selling or floating the business, getting the business trading without your daily input, or a 5/10 year turnover target.

If you know what you need to achieve in order to reach your ultimate goal, including how your business would need to look and be structured, you can then work backwards in yearly targets and start to formulate a long term plan which will ultimately provide you with short term targets – which could be quarterly, monthly, weekly or even daily.  Once you know this you can calculate what returns you need your marketing to generate to hit your targets – whether this is turnover, profit, number of clients, average transaction values etc.

This will ensure that your marketing is focussed on improving the key elements of your business in the short term to ensure you reach your desired destination.  It also enables you to quickly highlight where marketing activity is underperforming which can then be promptly addressed.

5. Ensure there is a market – This seems blindingly obvious but before you invest time and money into your new business venture make sure that there is large enough sustainable market for your products or services.  Don’t launch into a new venture with a pure gut instinct or on a whim.

Make sure that your concept is clearly thought out and that there is a gap in the market for you.  It may be that your product or service is highly innovative and creates a completely new market – which is great.  But if a market doesn’t exist, why not?

Do the research into your prospective customer base and make sure that there will be a demand for what you are trying to do.

Most importantly take note of the feedback that comes back from the research – don’t just plough on regardless.  Get opinions of business experts and leaders in similar fields as well as your target market.

70% of new businesses fail within the first three years – there are a number of factors that lead to this worrying statistic but give yourself the best platform possible my exploring the basics.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.