When you’ve been investing every cent of your livelihood into building your small business for years, it can seems frivolous to put dollars into marketing channels – not even knowing if there will be any return. If you want to up the ante and compete with larger businesses, you’re going to have to get your name out there. So, it’s time to market. Every salesperson from every marketing channel will tell you how crucial there tools are, so how can you know who to trust? Ask yourself these 10 questions before giving your money to any marketing campaign, and you’ll weed out a lot of waste in advance.
- Can this campaign possibly ROI?
Any marketing campaign is a risk, and nothing is guaranteed. There’s a big difference though, between creating a strategy, and just shooting blindly in the dark. If you’re getting sold on a marketing campaign, there should be a workable equation that literally shows how the money spent on this channel will return at a higher rate. Even if the variables in the equation aren’t guaranteed, they should still be thought out. If you or someone selling you a marketing campaigns can’t present these numbers, don’t invest in the channel.
- How will the campaign be tracked?
Along with having an ROI plan in place, you need to make sure you can actually track the efforts of the marketing campaign you’re investing in. Do your digital campaigns have the proper tracking URLs setup to gauge traffic and orders driven by your email, social, or display messages? Do your print, television and radio ads have unique tracking phone numbers and coupon codes? You can’t expect to know if the campaign you’ve invested in is bring your business money if you can’t even track where the orders are coming from.
- Has this campaign worked for other businesses in the past?
Most relevant for investing in third party marketing tools, you need to ask the company if they can refer you to some case studies or testimonials for how their tool has worked for other companies in your industry. Look at similarities like the size of the business, as well as the products. If a similar marketing campaign has worked well for businesses like yours in the past, it might be a good fit for you. If you don’t see any testimonials from businesses like yours – seek another channel.
- Is the campaign targeting the right people?
You can have the right medium and a great message, but if you’re targeting the wrong group – all of your investment can be a waste. Make sure you’re hitting the right list – whether it’s your own customers, or a purchased group of new contacts, you need to respect the demographic in your messaging. For example, Generation Y is more likely to follow the existing prestige of brands and industry themes they already know – where Generation X requires more proof of a product’s unique value before considering making a purchase. Ignoring facts like these in targeting your customers is a fatal mistake.
- Will your message actually get seen?
It sounds crazy, but all too many marketing campaigns get sent out – and barely even get seen by consumers. Think about email campaigns lost in spam filters, social posts in the middle of the night, and display ads on pages that get no traffic. With the right oversight, these digital marketing mediums can work great. To ensure your message gets seen, consider direct mail marketing as a first approach. Consumers look forward to reading their mail, and your message is many times more likely to get seen in direct marketing campaigns than most digital marketing channels. You might have the ideal message and the ideal target audience, but if your message doesn’t get seen – what’s the point?
6. Are you sending consumers to the best landing page?
For digital marketing efforts, there’s always a push to click through to a given landing page of your website. In terms of the overall campaign, this landing page is equally as important as every other factor leading to it. Think about what’s going to create conversions, and what’s going to cause the traffic you’ve invested so heavily in, to simply bounce from your landing pages instantly. People expect information faster, and with less effort than ever before. Videos have been proven to increase conversion of landing pages by 86%! Take the time to architect the best landing page along with the best digital marketing message.
7. Is there a clear call to action?
In crafting a great marketing message, you have to ask yourself if there’s a clear call to action. As you comb over the value of your products time and again, and meticulously craft a message showing that value, you might feel like the viewer’s next step should be obvious – make a purchase! You can’t implicitly expect that kind of action from consumers. They might say “hmm, sounds great – I’ll check that out sometime”, which turns out to be never. Make sure to actually tell people what they should do next after reading your message; whether it’s making a purchase, or just signing up for a monthly newsletter, if you don’t have a clear call to action, you shouldn’t expect results.
8. Are you targeting the right part of the sales cycle?
If you’re marketing to contacts you’ve gained through your own business activities (as opposed to buying a contact list), chances are they represent different parts of the sales cycle. Some of the addresses you have are going to be from people who you’ve only communicated with once. Others be customers who’ve already purchased from you, while others still will have had 3 or 4 communications with you, and never purchased. All of these people represent different parts of the sales cycle, and you need to respect this in terms of the messaging you use to market to them. Emails that nurture existing leads have been proven to have 5% higher click through rates than messages that continue to market a generic brand message. Wherever your contacts come from, respect their place in the sales cycle – and you’ll see more action from them toward your end goal.
9. Do you have a follow up action plan?
If your campaign is a failure, or a great success – what is your next step? You need to always be thinking one step ahead with your campaigns, and how you’re going to leverage the last campaign to your advantage. If you created a lot of sales, how will you market to these existing customers again? If you pushed a certain product, and it didn’t work – what product will you market next? Marketing is a constant hustle, and you can’t ever expect a job to be “complete”, neatly accomplished, and isolated. Every action should come from analysis of past data – and should have an action plan to follow it, depending on the result.
10. Who’s in charge of managing the campaign?
All of the above listed steps can help you succeed in launching a marketing plan for your small business – but not unless someone is managing the campaign closely! Quality marketing campaigns can get dreamed up in meetings, and even launched successfully without anyone assigned to actually see them through. Make sure that there’s no ambiguity in who’s actually accountable for tracking, tweaking, and following through on the marketing campaign you’re invested in – or it could be nothing more than a large waste of resources.