Where Should Your Small Business Spend Its Marketing Dollars?
You're ready to spend money to grow your business, but you aren't sure where your marketing dollars will have the greatest impact. Intuit asked a few experts what small-business owners should invest in to get the most bang for their bucks.
1. Website architecture — Yes, an aesthetically pleasing website design is important to your brand's image. But your site's architecture (the way every page of your website links to every other page) will help dictate how far-reaching your digital presence is, regardless of how much money you pour into online marketing. Jill Whalen, CEO of High Rankings, explains that "poor site architecture can completely kill off rankings, traffic, and even conversions." Whalen suggests that small-business owners consider their main categories of products or services and how to organize them within their site's hierarchy in a logical, search engine-friendly manner. Consider hiring an information architect who specializes in search engine optimization if that's not a skill you possess.
2. Digital marketing — Skyler Malley, founder of Firestarter SEO, advises small-business owners to invest some of their marketing dollars in search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising, because both offer a significantly higher return on investment than traditional marketing tactics. "Because [SEO and PPC] are highly targeted in terms of geographic location, demographics, and service areas; give answers to people when they are looking for information; and suggest that they use your business at a time when they need it, customers come to you."
3. Customer relationships — Greg Verdino, founder of Greg Verdino Consulting, says one of the best marketing investments that small-business owners can make is understanding how to better serve and leverage the pressing needs of their best customers by conducting surveys or focus groups, inviting customer feedback, testing offers, and experimenting with new service and product offerings. "This can help you define new products or services, create logical paths for upselling and cross-selling, sustain prices, and earn more of their business," Verdino notes. He also recommends providing incentives, such as discounts or special perks, to customers who are likely to recommend your business to their friends and colleagues.
4. Press exposure — Kari DePhillips, owner of the Content Factory, says that media coverage is traditionally valued three times higher than paid advertising, because the public views it differently (and more reliably). Thus, it has the potential to deliver greater ROI than traditional marketing and even social media. DePhillips recommends that small-business owners learn how to pitch stories directly and effectively to reporters by using free tools like HARO, Publiseek, and SourceBottle. "We've gotten clients media coverage at outlets like the Huffington Post and CNN using these tools, and they're available to anyone who wants to sign up for them," she notes. DePhillips adds that small-business owners should ensure that they have adequate resources for monitoring and responding to media opportunities.
Stephanie Taylor Christensen is a former financial services marketer who brings more than a decade of experience in marketing and writing to her career as a full-time freelance writer and small business owner.