Having a great product or service isn’t going to matter unless consumers are aware that you exist. With so many different access points to consumers today, including digital, mobile and traditional media, creating a targeted marketing campaign has never been easier—or more confusing.
To ease the confusion, we’ll examine different marketing tactics that can keep your media budget small, and we’ll help you determine the best strategies for landing new customers for your business.
- Determine Where Your Customers Are
The leading way that businesses overspend on media and marketing is by not truly understanding where their consumers have the best chance of seeing their communications. As a result, many businesses look to diversify their media plan, spreading a fixed amount of money over a wide variety of channels and, therefore, not making much of an impact.
How to find your customers: Ask around.
Directly ask or survey both your customers and your employees. Where was the first place they heard about the business or your product/service? Try to get as specific as possible. If someone says radio, ask what station; if they say online, ask what site.
- Determine How You Make a Sale
For many small businesses, having a robust e-commerce solution just isn’t feasible. If this is true for your business, advertising online and directing people to your website may not be your best option.
How to determine your sales process: Think about your sales cycle. Is it long or short? Do customers come in and walk out with a purchase on the same day? Or is it something they might spend time deliberating over? What helps them make their purchasing decisions? More information? A demonstration? Meeting with a sales rep?
If your website can’t handle a sale, then it’s not a good idea to direct people there. However, if it’s full of useful information that could help them make a purchasing decision, it’s a perfectly acceptable call to action. Just make sure you clearly outline what their next steps should be after they’ve gathered all of the necessary information.
- Don’t Go Crazy With Online Options
The amount of online advertising options seems to grow exponentially every year. While in many ways this is a positive for small business, it can also be overwhelming. Here are the top five online options small businesses should consider:
- Search Engine Optimization: This includes optimizing your website with metadata and keywords to make it rank higher on search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.
- Business Listing Update:If you search for your business on Google, a listing that is generated by the site will be returned. Make sure the information in this listing is correct and up-to-date. Check out this article for how to update this information.
- Review Sites:If your product or services are aided by word-of-mouth or referrals from previous customers, you need to have a strong and positive presence on social review sites like Yelp or OpenRice. This means reminding customers to write them, as well as checking the site and responding to reviews.
- Social Media: This falls under the umbrella of “important but time-consuming.” If you’re not on social media, you’re missing out on a way of reaching 66% of Hong Kong’s population. Note though, that you don’t have to be on every single site. The best advice is to pick one or two sites that lend themselves well to your brand, and then optimize those profiles the best you can. Post often, make sure the content is relevant and timely, and use it as a tool to engage with your customers.
- Website Development:If you want to have any type of online presence at all, spend time developing and designing your website. If you’re going to spend any money upfront, spend the money on your site.
How to find the best channels: Start with your customers.
When deciding what channels to leverage, take into account your average customer, but also consider factors such as your location and the type of product or service you sell. For example, a presence on consumer review sites like OpenRice is critical for restaurants, but a complete and optimized Google Business account may be more useful for a local service business, such as a marketing agency.
- Build Your Budget From Back to Front
The most important aspect of any marketing budget is the overall goal. While your initial response might be “to make sales,” your marketing goals should be more varied. Check out this Entrepreneur article about how to determine marketing goals and objectives.
How to create goals: Start at the end.
When the campaign is done, what do you want to see as a result? If it’s raised awareness, than spending more time on free marketing options like social media might be enough. If it’s increased revenue, then combining social media with paid search and other targeted advertising options might be more effective.
- Be Realistic With What You Can Afford
A successful marketing campaign should last for at least three months to show real results (ideally, it should last for six months). A continuous, ongoing marketing effort will give you a much better idea of how effective the campaign is and what tactics really work.
How to be realistic: Analyze your revenue.
Take a look at your revenue, and determine what percentage you feel comfortable devoting to marketing. One of the great things about online advertising is that you don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars for it to work. By making smart choices, you can spend as little as $1,000 a month and still get results.
The most important factor when planning your budget is to set a realistic monthly commitment. You don’t want to be able to consistently keep your marketing efforts going, and not have to ditch your campaign because you’re in a revenue crunch.
When determining your marketing budget, these five factors are really the most important:
- Focus on your customers.
- Determine how you make a sale.
- Use online advertising in moderation.
- Build your budget, keeping your end goals in mind.
- Set a realistic monthly amount.
Marketing is necessary to keep your business at the top of the consumer’s mind and generate revenue. But a successful campaign doesn’t have to break your budget.