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No business can afford to waste their limited marketing resources on campaigns that are hit or miss. Instead, you need to plan and track marketing efforts so you can learn what really works and what doesn’t. That way, you can concentrate all of your efforts on marketing that generates real results. Here are five easy steps to follow when you want to get the maximum return on your marketing dollars.

1. Identify your target market

Evaluate your market to define the target customers you will benefit from reaching. Remember that target markets are not your core market. Targets shift depending on strategy and goals while the core customer typically remains stable. Make sure that instead of one-size-fits-all marketing to every user of your product, you consider targeting heavy, light and occasional users. This allows you to customise messages so that they are more likely to hit nerves and drive response.

2. Know your customers

There’s little point starting any marketing until you know the characteristics of your target customers. Find out what they think about your product, why they buy it, and how and when they use it. You can gain insights in several ways. When talking to customers, ask them questions. You can also create simple surveys, questionnaires, and customer satisfaction queries with return mail postcards or online forms. Offer a gift or benefit for their participation, like a coupon for discounted services or a gift that participants can claim. You can also do phone research. You may be surprised by the results.

3. Quantify success

Make sure you define the results you want and set expectations that are appropriate for the marketing you choose. To help set goals, you can get advice from a wide variety of sources including industry groups, small business mentors, or marketing agencies. You might set the mark at certain sales revenue or a specified number of generated leads per month.

Your goal could be a total number of acquired customers within a year or one new investor by the end of your financial year. Success could mean a shift in consumer perceptions or deeper customer satisfaction. Whatever the case you need to set the desired set of outcomes beforehand or you won’t know whether or not the marketing worked.

4. Calculate your ROI

Take the time to compare the cost of proposed marketing against the profit you expect from it — not sales, actual profit. Monitor the range of customer response throughout the sales process so you clearly understand what brought customers through your door or to your Website.

Once you acquired the lead, how much did it cost in time and money to nail the sale? Can you make that process more cost-effective? Did customers return to buy additional products or services, or did they move on? With this information, you can figure out how much it costs to get a customer’s attention. You can also put a price tag on what it takes to drive a response and close the deal.

5. Track results and adjust efforts

By capturing data, updating results, and tracking your progress, you create increasingly integrated sales reports, financial analysis, and customer databases. That will tell you what’s working — and what isn’t. With that knowledge, you can customize the key marketing templates.

Don’t test once and stop. Keep refining your tactics and messages. Build up to larger, more expensive and more proven marketing with low-cost, low-effort experiments. Besides the fine-tuning of research and analysis there’s a very simple rule about whether or not your marketing is effective. If you’re spending more on marketing than the business it generates, stop doing it and create a new campaign.

To help plan and track where you need to spend your time and focus – download our free guide 7 Habits of Highly Effective Small Business Owners – and work smarter, not harder on your business.


Author Anna

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