I’ve worked in a few different industries, big and small, for-profit and not-for profit, and all of them take marketing spending seriously. I’m also confident that you are no different in this case, no matter the size of your company.
Fear makes more decisions for us than we likely care to admit. If we are considering something that we have not tried, it’s scary when there are dollars attached to that decision. More so if you don’t have lots of dollars to gamble. With that in mind, I wanted to approach this from a place where you can feel comfortable in moving forward, using those dollars appropriately and setting expectations on return of that spend.
When making marketing decisions, use the following questions to get you to a place where you can determine your next move.
What is the ultimate goal to be reached? Are you looking to build recognition with a new brand? Are you looking to build an online community? Are you trying to boost online sales? Understanding the needed approach and outcomes for each goal is key and will keep you from wasting resources.
Look at your sales funnel to see where your program is deficient. This is a simplified version, but yours probably looks something like this if you are fairly active:
You will notice that some of these tactics repeat. Social media covers a lot of ground from initial brand introduction to flash sale announcements.
Is this tactic measurable? How will you measure it? Find out what the actual benchmarks are for this tactic/channel in your industry. Most tactics are measurable now compared with a few years ago. For things like sponsorships and other more tricky to track options, don’t immediately discount them. Wide visibility and the ability to get more eyes on your brand, may be what you need, depending on the goal you need to reach right now.
You will need to weight your tactics. Social media has the potential to reach a wide audience, but a positive in-person introduction goes a long way to answer specific questions, get a feel for the company (What kind of people do they hire? Are they knowledgable?).
Sort it out in bite sizes. Maybe all you need is a consult to get started and have them weigh in on your results, which is a smaller spend up front. If you are using a system that requires a fair bit of babysitting, such as social media or AdWords, it’s worth understanding and having a good strategy for a fair review and getting the most out of your test dollars.
Can you run it in house, or do you need to find outside support? If you have some admin support to run or keep an eye on it while it runs, is that all that’s required? For things like AdWords, you need to keep a daily watch on your ad performance, keywords and make adjustments as needed.
New marketing tactics are often tests. Approach this like a scientific study, track your activity, not just dollars. Put a toe in the water, see what you get and tweak. Wash, rinse, repeat. Set a small dollar amount and a short (but not unreasonable) test time to allow it to work. Give it time. A month is usually a solid place to test and gather enough data.
In a very competitive market, don’t expect a massive return off the bat. Goals should be reasonable. I had an e-commerce group that gained 14% for the year in online sales in a very saturated market, using only limited channel social media and regularly released product launches (See my product launch worksheet to make this easier for any equine product manufacturer). We were thrilled.
Talk to others in your industry and find out what is working for them. Sponsorships, sponsored riders, or social media. This is your “marketing mix,” the combination of where you are seen that gives you the results you want.
Keep your message consistent across your activities. This is key for your brand, no matter your service or product, or marketing channel.
Gather your answers as best you can, allocate your resources, test for a reasonable time, tweak and stay visible!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi, I’m Amanda! As a life-long equestrian, I understand the importance of keeping our horses healthy, happy and well-appointed. And with over 15 years of experience in marketing, I can help you to translate that shared goal into a brand that drives sales. I’ve mastered marketing strategy, branding, website production and digital media marketing, and led successful teams to bring it all together. So it’s a pleasure to offer my services and knowledge to those who make my life more enjoyable, and to bring new products and services to others to keep our horses happy and healthy. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn!