Marketing is often considered a cost rather than an investment, and it’s a tough mindset to change, according to Sydney advertising stalwart, Ash Farr.
“Success in business isn’t what you do today or tomorrow, it’s what you do the year after that, and keeping a constant eye on what you’re spending. And I don’t think any style of marketing should be at the exclusion of all else,” the chief executive of creative advertising agency McCann Australia says.
In particular, many businesses continue to feel overwhelmed by marketing in the digital domain, Farr says.
“Digital marketing isn’t hard, but it does take some time to master. I’d suggest small business owners persevere with it, because the results I’ve seen prove that it’s a medium that’s well worth it.”
Here are four steps to help you overhaul your marketing approach:
Start by conducting a stocktake of the marketing activities you’ve done to date. Analyse what has worked and what hasn’t, and if possible – why. Use these learnings to guide future strategy. “I’d always recommend a quick review of competitors at this point, as it’s a great way to identify opportunities in your market,” marketing specialist of Sydney’s Wise Up Marketing, Mary-Anne Amies says.
A fresh set of eyes goes a long way, she says.
“It’s easy to constrain the plan to what you’ve always done, or what works, or what we’re good at. Sometimes, the help of a consultant can help broaden the perspective and identify new opportunities or new ways of doing traditional things. It can save time and money and accelerate results.”
2. Map out business objectives
Business owners should set their marketing budgets based on their business objectives, though this doesn’t always happen, according to Craig Hunter, managing director of Blacksheep Strategic Group.
“A business owner needs to decide whether they want to achieve 100% growth in the next 12 months, or 3% growth over the next five years.”
Next, map out your primary target market and any secondary markets. It’s critical for SMEs to really focus on their target, and to put themselves in their shoes. This helps identify how best to reach them, Amies adds.
“Then, work on a calendar grid with key activities. Start to map out monthly focuses then what activities can complement them,” she says.
Many business owners are drowning in the amount of digital marketing possibilities open to them. And often, business owners feel that throwing money at digital marketing removes the need for them to map out a marketing strategy.
But this isn’t the case, says Hunter.
“Strategy is the most fundamental part of marketing. Despite what we see in businesses, spending on digital marketing isn’t an excuse to forgo any strategy or planning in your marketing. Businesses still need a marketing strategy in place at all times,” Hunter says.
3. Track return on investment
Marketing activity needs to be accountable, Farr says.
To offer a discount on your product or service, you could ask customers to bring in your voucher to receive the discount, which each has an independent tracking number on it. That way you can track how the voucher was distributed to ascertain which method works best.
“Having some sort of unique identifier on vouchers isn’t anything new, but it’s a method that still works well to measure the effectiveness of your marketing.”
Hunter admits that it can be difficult to apportion to return on investment (ROI) for digital marketing, but not to give up.
There’s no magic tool out there, but a variety of tools to measure your ROI. Google Analytics is the most powerful tool we have.
“Also, don’t get attracted to shiny new marketing tools that come to market. You need to think about what channels you require to achieve your business goals.”
4. Think long term
Every five years, draw up a full marketing plan with target market profiling, SWOT analysis, brand strategy and then analysing the five Ps and how they work for your business – product, place, promotion, price and profit, Amies says.
Annually, businesses need to conduct some competitive analysis, target market analysis and a communication strategy are important. Strategic plans for online, social media, PR, advertising, promotions and CRM/advocacy are also important, she says.
Also, don’t be pressured to commit funds to various styles of marketing activity, adds Hunter.
“I’d urge business owners to focus on a few core marketing techniques, rather than throwing money at lots of channels and hoping for the best. We often find business owners are doing too much and not doing anything well. Just stick to the basics and achieving that well.”