3 Keys for Unlocking Marketing—and Business—Success

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On December 16, 2013

If you’re like a lot of small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) one of your biggest challenges is finding new customers. As a matter of fact, that tops the list of concerns for SMBs according to Yodle’s First Annual Small Business Sentiment Survey. At the same time, 23 percent of the businesses surveyed spend no money on marketing. And 56 percent spend less than $500 a month.

Some small businesses look at marketing as a luxury they can’t afford. Others simply don’t like spending money on something that they’re not convinced gives them a good return on investment. But good marketing isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity. And good marketing also gives you a solid return on investment. But good marketing doesn’t just happen. It requires planning. And now is the time to plan how to market your business for the coming year. Here are three keys that will help you plan successfully and give your business a boost this year.

Key 1: Be Clear About Your Objectives. Too often, when small businesses think about marketing, they focus on pretty pictures and clever copy. Those may be nice touches, but those things don’t result in more customers or better sales. What do you really want your marketing to do for you? Write out clear, measureable (more about this later) business objectives that include things such as:

  • How much web traffic do you want to generate?
  • How many leads do you need to generate each month?
  • How many leads can you successfully convert to customers?

Key 2: Have a Plan for Measuring Progress. That same Yodle survey that I referred to above revealed that 56 percent of small business owners don’t measure the results of their marketing efforts. The problem with that is that if you’re not measuring results, how in the world will you know what’s working—and what’s not? One of the fundamentals of successful marketing is figuring out what works and repeating it. And if something isn’t working, you need to stop doing it. Why waste time and money on something that doesn’t bring you results? That’s something you need to build into your marketing planning: What metrics will you use to determine if your marketing is succeeding or not? It’s not enough to look at your revenue numbers. You need to know the specific actions that brought about specific results.

Key 3: Bite the Bullet and Budget. There is simply no way around it: marketing costs money. It’s a business fact of life. But if you plan properly (with good objectives) and have a means for measuring results, marketing is an investment. If you were confident that every dollar you spend on marketing would generate two dollars in revenue, you’d probably spend that money gladly. But if you don’t budget for it, you can’t do it.  Setting a realistic marketing budget is essential. You don’t want to hamstring your business by budgeting too much. But you also don’t want to undermine your marketing efforts by budgeting too little.  Consult with some marketing experts and start with a small (but realistic) budget. Then, as you track your results, you can adjust your budget.

Of course there is a lot more to successful marketing than these three simple keys. But if you’re not doing these things, the rest of it really doesn’t matter. Start small and make your marketing efforts prove their worth. These three keys will help you do that.  And if you need help with some of the specifics—I’d be delighted to help you formulate a plan for your business!