Small business owners who are looking to invest in marketing are constantly seeking ways to better manage marketing for small business.  The challenge is that most small business owners are spending their energy on running their business, trying to finish client work, and handle the day to day business operations, leaving precious little time to actually manage their marketing efforts.  However, as most business people know, marketing is a critical part of the business equation, and efforts need to be managed effectively if the company hopes to grow and expand. How can small business owners succeed in small business marketing management?

Create a Marketing Strategy

While it sounds cumbersome to create a marketing strategy before beginning any marketing efforts, it’s an absolutely crucial component in order to do marketing well. Marketing plans don’t have to be comprehensive in nature; as a matter of fact, these should be considered living, breathing documents, plans to be revisited and revised at least once a year to insure you’re on track.  There are many great resources on how to create a marketing plan or you can work with a marketing professional who can work with you on your marketing strategy creation. Whichever way you choose to go is up to you as a business owner, but start with a plan, follow the plan, measure the results, and adjust the strategy as needed based on results.

Determine Your Marketing Budget

Just as you’d create a financial budget for your business overall, it’s important to create a marketing budget. Based on the marketing plan you created, you now should have a fair idea of who your target market is, how your competitors are getting clients, where your target market is, and the best tactics to use to reach this market.  Now it’s time to put dollars to those efforts.  The mistake many small businesses make is spending a lot of money on a lot of different marketing tactics with no idea what the return on investment (ROI) should be, or even how to measure it. As a matter of fact, most small businesses don’t even know how to determine a marketing budget.  You want to set a marketing budget that fits your business goals and provide a high return on investment. A few things to consider when determining a marketing budget:

  • What industry are you in?
  • What’s the size of your business?
  • What stage of growth are you in?

As a general guideline, small businesses should invest between 8 -10% of your gross revenue on marketing.  Obviously, if that amount is simply not sustainable for you at the moment, consider lowering it, but understand the importance of the investment of marketing to your business and your brand.

Choose How You Market and Start Slow

Where should your marketing dollars go?  Print?  TV? Email marketing? Trade shows?  Social media? All the above?  Your marketing strategy should have illustrated for you where your target audience likely resides, but even if you decide to put most of your efforts to digital marketing, there are a plethora of options just in that realm. Which one should you choose?  First, understand that whatever marketing efforts you undertake should be measurable.  If you can’t measure it, don’t invest the time and money.  You must understand the ROI for your efforts, especially if you time and money are limited. Second, invest in marketing activities that either you can execute and measure, you have a staff that can do the work, or hire an experienced small business marketing professional to do the work for you. Start with no more than two or three marketing activities to start; anything more than that is too difficult to manage or measure.

Measure Your Marketing Activity

Assuming you’re engaging in marketing activities you can measure (and you should be!) take the time to measure those activities and determine the results.  Look at Google Analytics:  are your efforts driving traffic to your website? Are they becoming leads?  How many of those leads became customers?  Look at your social media channels:  how many fans, followers and likes to you have?  More importantly, how many clicks from your social channels went through to your website? Understand your cost per lead and cost per acquisition.  Do you know what a lead is worth so you’re not overspending?  If you spend $500 a month on marketing and get 100 leads, that’s $5 a lead.  If 10% of those leads become clients, your cost per acquisition is $50.  If your product or service is worth more than $50, then you’re doing OK; if you sell a $2 product, change tactics, as spending $50 for a $2 sale is not good business practice.

Revisit and Revise Your Marketing Efforts as Needed

Small business marketing is dynamic and ever-changing.  Create a strategy.  Follow the strategy.  Follow your budget.  Measure your results. Change your tactics based on results. It’s a process, but one well worth the investment. Managing your small business marketing efforts will ensure your company’s growth and success for years to come.

Patty Hughes
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