Spring is here—whether it feels like it in your part of the country or not—and it’s time to refresh and renew. That applies to your marketing plan, too. Are you ready to shake it up and sweep out the cobwebs?
Pull out your marketing plan and take a good look. What’s working, and what isn’t? You should be tracking the results of all your marketing efforts, whether you’re using online analytics, codes in print ads or simply asking visitors to your store or restaurant how they heard about you. Based on the information you’ve gathered, assess which marketing methods are getting the best results, and which are not doing so well (or are tapering off in effectiveness).
Next, think about why. Marketing methods can become ineffective for many reasons:
• You’re not promoting your message often enough. The old saying when it comes to marketing and advertising is “it’s the frequency, not the size.” In other words, a smaller ad or shorter radio spot that runs more often will stick in viewers’ or listeners’ heads more—and get better results—than a bigger ad that runs infrequently. Try spending the same amount of money on more frequent, smaller ads.
• You’re not promoting your message in the right places. If you notice you’re not getting the response you used to from one marketing avenue (or you’re not getting any response at all) it may be time to cut back or stop using that channel altogether.
• You’re not promoting your message to the right people. Audiences change, move away or grow up. The target audience for your regular advertising outlets may be different than when you started advertising there. Regularly check with representatives at your advertising outlets to learn the makeup of their audience. If the outlet no longer fits your needs, move on.
• Your message is poorly designed or doesn’t convey what you want it to. Do your ads, radio spots or marketing collateral pieces look outdated? Is your unique selling proposition or offer clear? Styles change quickly, both in terms of design and copywriting. Ask friends and colleagues to give you honest feedback about whether it’s time to update your marketing messages.
One smart way to make sure your marketing plan is fresh is simply to take a look at what your competitors are doing. I’m not advocating copying their marketing tactics, but if they’re advertising in a certain place, or using a certain method, maybe you should be, too. They could be getting great results from a tactic you’re not even trying.
It’s also crucial to stay up-to-date on marketing trends in your industry. Read your industry’s trade publications and blogs, and attend its conferences and seminars, to keep up with the marketing methods that are working the best for other entrepreneurs in your field.
Stay in touch with your customer base, too. Get regular feedback on how you’re doing, what they want from your business and what their biggest concerns are. Knowing this information will make it easier to tailor your marketing messages and choose the right outlets and tactics.
Finally, assess your marketing budget to see if it’s in need of an upgrade. Many small businesses make the mistake of skimping on marketing, then wonder why they aren’t seeing sales. See if there are other areas where you can squeeze out some extra funds from your business. Investing in your marketing, as long as it’s done with research and thought to back it up, is almost always a smart move.