As summer slips away and fall shuffles forth, business owners and their leadership teams might want to take a look at the overall marketing strategy they’ve pursued this year. How’s yours doing? It may not be entirely too late to make some adjustments to ensure your sales numbers wind up where you want them.
What success looks like
The simple question you might ask regarding your marketing strategy is, “What are we trying to accomplish, and can we still get there?” (Okay, maybe that’s two questions.) Determine as specifically as possible what marketing success should look like this year.
If the goal is indeed to increase sales, what metrics are you using to calculate whether you’ve achieved adequate growth? You should be able to lay out these metrics in a report or chart to help you determine whether your money has been well spent so far.
Many companies divide their marketing efforts between recurring activities and “one off” or ad-hoc initiatives. For example, they invest in advertising on certain websites, social media platforms, or in a magazine or newspaper. Then they look for special opportunities, such as a local festival or annual trade show. You should have data indicating whether these initiatives are paying off, too.
Fine tune your efforts going forward by comparing inflows to outflows from various types of marketing. Will you be able to create a revenue inflow from sales that at least matches, if not exceeds, the outflow of marketing dollars?
It’s imperative to track sources of new business, as well as leads and customers. Be sure your staff is asking new customers how they heard about your company. This one simple question can provide invaluable information about which aspects of your marketing strategy are generating the most leads.
Further, once you’ve discovered a lead or new customer, ensure that you maintain contact with the person or business. Letting leads and customers fall through the cracks will undermine your marketing efforts. If you haven’t already, explore (or upgrade) customer relationship management software to help you better track and analyze key data points.
In addition to generating leads, marketing can help improve brand awareness. Although an increase in brand awareness may not immediately translate to increased sales, it tends to do so over time. Identify ways to measure the impact of marketing efforts on your business’s brand. Possibilities include customer surveys, website traffic data and social media interaction metrics.
It can pay off
Sometimes business owners look at marketing as a sunk cost. You know you’ve got to allocate dollars to it, but the results may seem random and unpredictable. By refining your approach and tracking the right metrics, however, you can help ensure that your marketing strategy pays off.
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