3 Tips for Building a Smarter Marketing Plan
By Maria Ross
Some marketing outlets may strong arm you, claiming you have to advertise with them or your business will be ruined. I won’t mention names, but I’ve heard some pretty ugly stories from many business owners about a very popular online search and review site that has done this.
Avoid getting strong-armed and resist peer pressure by following these 3 simple tips for building a smarter marketing plan for your blossoming small business. Follow these tips and you’ll be sure to make smart marketing choices:
1 | Know your audience
Sounds obvious, but be crystal clear on your target ideal customers. Not just “women” but what age, income? Where are they and what do they do for a living? What do they care about? What are their hobbies and interests? Build this character profile and you stand a much better chance of asking the right questions of advertisers to ensure you’re not wasting your money.
For example, if your business appeals more to high-income working moms in urban areas, you can avoid spending money on advertising to stay-at-home moms or young teen women, let’s say.
2 | Ask about the ROI
Ask for references, proof points or statistics. If they say their website traffic is “really good” ask to see a breakdown of unique visitors and where they are coming from. If they say their other advertisers are seeing great results, ask for case studies or if they will let you speak to at least 3 of them as a reference check.
Ask if there is any guarantee on performance or credit given if things under perform – do they provide performance statistics for you? Don’t be afraid to ask an advertiser to prove their claims. And make sure if you invest that you do so for a test period and track your sales and visits accordingly. Once placed an ad on a popular daily email for my target market and the site would not respond to requests to provide click through data on the ad. Lesson learned: I should have done a better job of tracking that myself!
3 | Talk to others
Don’t be afraid to reach out to other local small businesses or others in your field and ask about what they are hearing regarding the outlet. Collaborate with others and don’t pretend you know all the answers. This will save your butt and avoid mistakes. For example, if you are part of the local SBA, merchants association or a networking group (even one online), ask others if they’ve invested in what you are considering and what their success has been.
One small business owner I talked to shared that a business which could have been perceived as competitive shared his negative Yelp advertising experience with other similar businesses in the area, just to help them avoid the same mistakes. There’s enough to go around, and we’re all in this together so ask about and share these lessons.
Maria Ross is a brand strategist, speaker and author who believes cash flow and creativity are not mutually exclusive. She is the creator of Red Slice, a brand consultancy for startups and small businesses and author of Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget, (2nd Edition) and a mini-eBook series, The Juicy Guides for Entrepreneurs, as well as her powerful personal memoir, Rebooting My Brain. Maria is a sought-after keynote speaker on both business and inspirational topics and has shared her wit and wisdom in numerous media outlets, including MSNBC, ABC News, The Huffington Post, Forbes.com, NPR and Entrepreneur Magazine. She lives with her husband, adorable son and frisky Black Lab in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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