Every year, there are thousands if not tens of thousands of new businesses started in the United States. At the same time, there are also countless companies halting operations, both new ones and established names. So what makes a business boom or bust? There are a lot of moving parts that contribute to your success, but very few of them will be the make-or-break factor if your marketing plan isn’t working. There’s a possibility a company with a great approach to marketing will still have trouble building a sustainable operation, but without a solid marketing strategy, it’s almost certain. That’s why the right approach to reaching your audience may just be the secret ingredient that lets your company grow faster and more stable than ever before.
Identify Your Customer Base
Before you can plan to reach people, you need to figure out who it is that you want to reach, because finding a way to talk to your prospective customers is not a one-size-fits-all job. It might seem that way because so much of the advertising we think of as such is in mass media, but not everyone responds to the same media outreach in the same way. One great illustration of this is television advertising. You can get onto local TV for a relatively low cost in most markets if you are picking daytime or late night spots when more syndicated or local programming takes place. Not everyone is watching during those times, though. If your product appeals to professionals who are likely to be at work or asleep during those times, you might not want a TV spot until you can afford something in prime time.
Similarly, if you are doing digital marketing, you need to understand which components are going to be the ones that appeal to your core audience the most:
- Content with information they can use
- Social media posting and interaction
- Incentives like coupons
- Email outreach and mailing lists
- Web sites and search engine placement
Every part of the plan is important, but some industries and niches within them will appeal more to one marketing style than to others. For example, the ROI on email programs in the hospitality industry is quite good, but those numbers are not necessarily predictive of the way an email marketing campaign would work for, say, a video game developer.
Work With Your Budget
The second component to a good plan is finding the balance of resources that fits your budget, while also making a plan for what you’re going to do as your company’s finances improve and you have more money to allocate to ongoing programs like advertising and marketing. Growing your customer base is a matter of reinvesting dividends, so it helps to have a plan that outlines how much the marketing budget grows when the company grows. Even if it isn’t formalized as a protocol, having a rule of thumb the leadership team can agree on means knowing you will continue to reinforce your best efforts.
Incorporate Metrics and Assessment
Growing your marketing efforts as your budget increases will mean expanding your most successful tactics, but it’s also an opportunity to try new things without abandoning what you already do. To understand which of your tactics are working best, which have peaked and won’t benefit from more investment, and which simply need to be changed out, you need to assess how each one correlates to increases in your business in one way or another. Depending on the goals of the campaign, you might compare advertising reach to total sales, new mailing list sign-ups, or even to specific conversions, like clicking through to your web site. In the end, the audience’s interaction with your marketing needs to fuel more business, but sometimes individual tactics aren’t just about sales. By investing more heavily in the areas that seem to be gaining you the most ground and pulling back from tactics that have lost their edge, you can use data to drive your marketing behavior, making it more and more effective.
Get the Right Help
Marketing is a demanding field with its own research and analysis methods, and finding your way to an effective, long-term plan to reach more customers means knowing when you should go to an expert. For many companies, that means outsourcing to firms run by heavy hitters like Mark Crumpacker, whose track record sets them apart and makes their attention very valuable to their clients. Others choose to invest in an in-house team, recruiting their own heavy hitter from the marketing department in another firm to act as the marketing visionary who leads their growth.
For most companies just starting out, hiring a full-time marketing strategist might be a bit pricey when compared to outsourcing. As with many infrastructure investments, though, that balance tends to shift as a company gets larger and has more reserve resources to bring to bear on their efforts to dominate the marketplace. Keep that in mind as you decide just where you want your business to be five years from today.