How many of you hope next year ushers in the entrepreneurial dream of working less and making more? In a recent poll, I asked small business owners to identify their biggest marketing challenges. The number one answers? TIME and MONEY.
With no clear, visible line between marketing and revenue, it is easy to put marketing on the back burner. When it does occur, marketing often means spontaneously promoting and advertising your business with no clear plan or focus.
Here are 7 tips to help you stretch your marketing dollars and use them more efficiently:
- Determine your annual marketing budget. The rule of thumb is that about 10% of your gross revenue should be earmarked for marketing your business. An article I read on entrepreneur.com broke it down by the age of your business:
- Newer companies, one to five years old, need to focus on becoming recognizable and building customers. Between 12 to 20 percent of gross revenue is a good goal for marketing.
- Established companies, more than five years old, already have branding and a place in the market. Between six and 12 percent is sufficient for marketing to keep the business on track.
- Don’t throw all your eggs in one basket. Your funds are limited so you want to put them where they count. Determining who your ideal clients are is a crucial first step. From there you can better understand their social, personal, and professional behaviors, which can point you toward the best media outlets for advertising. Here are some to consider: Social media, website, search engine optimization, paid digital ads, newsletters, blogging, newspapers, publications, sponsorships, Radio/TV, Billboards, referrals, Direct Mail Marketing, Networking, sponsorships, special events, workshops, signage, and more.
- Discern your ideal clients. Think about who you enjoy working with the most–who has made you feel passionate about what your business? By zeroing in on the type of client that you want most, you can create your niche, helping you focus and make more of an impact. Don’t worry, creating a niche doesn’t mean you’re neglecting clients outside of that niche. You are just focusing on quality versus quantity.
- Understand your sales funnel. It’s easier to take leads, referrals, and clients to the next level when you recognize your services and price points. Take some time to build out your own sales funnel. You will be able to process leads much easier and move them down the funnel to your higher price points.
- Take the time to track. How will you know your marketing is working if you aren’t measuring? One of the easiest ways to evaluate your marketing efforts is to watch your website traffic. Google Analytics can be overwhelming, so for independent and small business owners I suggest focusing on only a few parameters: Total traffic per month, Unique traffic per month, Most visited pages, and Popular blog posts. You can also keep track of phone calls you receive and walk-in clients. Make sure to ask every new person, ‘How did you hear about us?’ Most likely they will recall either the most recent interaction with your brand or the most impactful. By tracking these responses and relaying them back to your marketing team, you can evaluate and adjust as necessary. Not to mention it will help you in determining your marketing budget each year.
- Keep a marketing calendar. Having a focus each month empowers you to make stronger decisions, especially when vendors try to entice you with those “special discounts.” Your advertising will have an overall focus, saturating the message you want to convey and gaining more traction.
- Grease your gears. Warning: Strategic marketing and creative branding targeted to specific personas will generate results, especially when you use a professional to guide you through. That’s the point of marketing after all. You and your team must be prepared to make the best impression and convert leads into sales when the funnel starts to fill.
In my workshops, I define branding and how intentional marketing “sets the stage” for your prospects to have clear expectations of what it means to work with you. As your chief branding officer, my job is to get people excited to work with you. It’s your job to deliver the best experience – every-single-time. Making solid impressions is a sure way to generate repeat customers and get more referrals. You will waste your precious marketing dollars if you don’t answer emails, don’t return calls, have a grumpy front desk attitude, and are not prepared to deliver your stellar services.
Marketing is no easy task especially when you’re an independent business owner juggling all the aspects of business operations. Following these easy steps will enable you to make solid decisions and drive results. Make sure to block out time each week to work on marketing your business. The consistency of time and dedication will pay off in the end.
If marketing on your own is overwhelming and just adds a new pile of stress to your business ownership life – consider hiring a contractor. Partnering with a contractor is less intimidating than hiring an employee to take on these daunting tasks. That’s why we’re here, to help you grow efficiently and effectively. Schedule a complimentary Meet & Greet today