It pains me when I hear about small businesses spending hard earned cash on marketing initiatives and then not knowing if they got a return on their investment.
Big advertisers and their agencies spend time and (even more) money finding out if they have got more money back than they put in. But how do small businesses keep track of their spending and see if it’s value for money and avoid waste?
Evaluation is a complex thing - for example, as buyers, if we hear that “Elizabeth King is the most amazing food-shop in the borough” we rarely go there straight away to try out the produce. We might only remember a month or so later as we drive by and yet it could be the same advert that did the trick and got us through the door - just with a considerable lag in the time period over which it worked.
Some media channels are really hard to keep track of by their nature – press and radio for example have lots of wasted coverage and low impact so people rarely know if it worked for them.
I’m only banging on about this because so many small businesses have a go with some communication or campaign and then feel that it didn’t give them anything in return and then walk away from marketing altogether for a while – and who can blame them?
But I repeated a remark of J.F.Kennedy recently in a blog, that ‘the best time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining’ and if only some of the current predictions about the Autumn Spending Review come true we could all be in for a difficult time – so now is the time to think about how you measure what you do.
1. It might sound daft but first of all make sure you know how much you do spend – over half of the firms I meet have lost track of where they spend and how much they spend – keep a spread sheet that says what you spent, where it was spent, note any evidence of it working and make a note of when the next opportunity comes so that you’ve thought about renewal before the salesman calls.
2. Don’t just react to the next opportunity - a call to sponsor a charity brochure or a ‘bargain’ half page in the local press – have a plan. Ask yourself, where should you advertise, what kind of media best suits your business? Should you advertise where the competition advertises or where they don’t? How much should you pay? What are the new tricks to make you look and feel ‘bigger’?
3. Before you spend anything – and I mean anything – have you asked how success will be measured? More than that, do you have any guarantees or undertakings about what will happen and what you can expect in return? (Did you ask for a guarantee or did you assume they didn’t exist?)
4. Ask exactly how responses are tracked and satisfy yourself that it will give you the information you need to make a decision.
5. Be honest. If something you’ve invested in is doing well, keep track of why you think that and then consider spending more or building on it.
You’ll probably guess that I wouldn’t say any of this if we weren’t in a strong position ourselves – but that’s not why I bring it up. For now at least, we’re a very small proportion of the money local businesses are spending on marketing and it pains me to think how little of that spend is carefully done and properly accounted for and if it isn’t, that’s a waste of hard earned cash.
Please. If you’re thinking of Marketing, don’t waste your money, give us a call. 07877 568 250
Member since: 10th July 2012
I'm the owner of thebestof hammersmith and fulham so I get the chance to write about the borough and all the good things I find as I go around talking to businesses. Join in and tell people about...