Most small business owners have to make every dollar in their marketing budget count. Easier said than done in a world that offers such a variety of high-tech and traditional marketing tools. Maximizing the value you get from your investment often depends on your willingness to plan ahead, learn from past mistakes, and to develop and implement a consistent strategy to fully leverage all elements of your program. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- You must have a clear, consistent image in the marketplace. In terms of visual materials, this means there should be a consistent look to all your customer communications. Use the same logo (or company signature) the same typeface(s), and the same design style for ads, print materials, trade show literature, billboards, websites and online communications. This increases cumulative recognition – increasingly important in today’s world where consumers are bombarded with information. For this to work – and for you to get the maximum bang for your buck – it’s important that everyone who develops marketing or sales materials understands the importance of consistency. Having a pre-production sign-off procedure for all marketing materials will ensure that everything is consistent and meets your firm’s guidelines.
- If you are promoting the same product or service to many different customers and need print materials, think modular. Develop a basic print layout with sections for the overall information that is useful to all your customers; then reserve a section or two that will have information specific to certain industries or customer segments. The tailored copy can be stripped into the basic layout – as required – in the print production phase. This approach can save significant time and money; and it works online, allowing customers to select tabs with the sections that are relevant to their specific industry or business needs.
- Be realistic about what type of marketing material you need and in what quantity. Assess where your business leads are generated and measure the results of past programs. If your audience is tech-savvy and web-focused, your need for traditional print materials might be reduced. However, you might need product data sheets (as well as an e-catalog) accessible online that provide specific product features and benefits. Is your website easy to access and use on a handheld device (smartphone or tablet)? If possible, avoid registration or check-in procedures on your mobile website. They are fiddly and difficult to complete using a smartphone keypad. Make it as easy as possible for website visitors (mobile or not) to request more information by phone, online chat or mail.
- If you are a small company and agencies are not within your budget, look for good creative talent in the freelance and self-employed pool. Check online, in professional directories and local Chamber of Commerce publications to identify freelance or self-employed marketing professionals. Review client references and work samples carefully, and make sure that you understand whether you are paying on a project or hourly basis.
Lastly, remember that critics are your best friends. If negative comments don’t reach you early enough, the dissatisfaction might show up in your P&L eventually. Solicit feedback and listen to it – the good and the bad. Find out which marketing tools worked and which ones didn’t, and use feedback surveys on your website to get opinions from your clients or customers.