4 essential questions you need to ask yourself when marketing your business

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“Why aren’t my marketing and advertising efforts yielding any leads or sales?” It’s a question we often get asked when talking to entrepreneurs.

If you’re struggling with the same question, here are four important questions that can help you figure out why your marketing and sales efforts aren’t set up for success – and how to turn them around.

1. Who’s managing your marketing?

Nine times out of ten, it’s either the owner of the company, or someone within the company who helps in other areas, and does marketing on the side. If this is the case, you need to make a change.

Hire people who are smarter about marketing then you are. Without someone trained and experienced in marketing who dedicates their time executing marketing efforts for your company, you’re likely never going to get the level of growth you’re looking for.

  • Hire a qualified marketing person full-time. Make sure they have graduated from a post-secondary marketing program recently and have a few years of experience…or, if they’re like me and graduated a while back they’ve been working in the industry and have been increasing their knowledge of current trends and channels in marketing through experience and took additional classes along the way. Look for both traditional and digital experience and also for someone who is hands on and passionate about marketing. Can they update your website? Do they know what SEO is and can share examples of what they did at their last job to increase organic traffic? Have they worked with a marketing plan or better yet, created one? Have they worked with a content calendar on social media and managed social media posts? Are they certified in Google Analytics and Google AdWords?

    Once you have a qualified marketing person in place, work with them to audit your current state and lead putting a marketing plan in place. Now you are moving in the right direction to evolve your marketing and grow your business.
  • Hire a marketing person part-time on contract for a set number of hours per week. Some companies may not have enough work or budget initially for a full-time person so this option of hiring someone for 15-20 hours can be a stop gap measure to begin giving marketing more focus. Can this person be your receptionist as well or office admin person? No. This is a qualified marketing person whose goal is to build your business through marketing. See the definition of “qualified” above.
  • Work with an agency that is hungry to help you and will give your company the attention and priority it needs. We find smaller agencies tend to like finding companies that are underserved by larger agency models. Typically these agencies work on an hourly rate for marketing support and in the case of managing digital advertising they generally have a commission of 20% of the ad spend. Agencies can offer some varied skill sets that can be scoped out to support your business, in some cases this works well if you want to keep headcount down and want to be able to scale up and down on costs. This options still requires someone to manage the agency so it isn’t a “set it and forget it” method of marketing. You’ll also need to be a good client, this means have your business objectives at hand and work with your agency to plan out the year based on your business goals.

2. Do you have a marketing plan?

Is there a marketing plan in place that is aligned with current company goals? All teams and agency partners should be working toward a plan that supports your business goals. Without this, the teams are floating in an ocean without direction.

Setting marketing up for success doesn’t always come naturally to entrepreneurs. In many cases it hasn’t been the first priority of the business, but as the company grows it quickly becomes very important. Start with the Who, What, Where and How Much basics shared with you here and evolve your marketing so it supports the growth you want to see in your company.

Also, make sure your marketing plan includes key performance indicators (KPI’s) to measure results and accountability for those managing the plan, as well as important foundational elements like optimizing your website’s user experience, mobile responsiveness and analytics configuration to measure the results of your marketing efforts?

3. How much are you willing to budget towards marketing?

Commit to supporting the marketing plan with the budget needed for success. Dabbling in marketing with a few hundred dollars a month won’t get the results you’re looking for. Opt instead for a strong and well-considered marketing budget that supports your business goals and marketing strategy.

Have you assessed the amount of effort it takes to manage these channels in order to do a few things well versus many things not well? Less is more when you’re evolving your marketing so focus on a 70-20-10 approach where 70 percent of your time goes to things you know work and that bring you revenue, 20 percent is the next best thing, something that potential to bring in revenue and then leave 10 percent for testing new areas. This approach can focus the team and reduce the shiny ball syndrome where it seems like all new things should be tried out to be successful in marketing. This kind of thinking can lead to reactive, unfocused effort.

Once you start doling out the dollars, be sure to pay close attention to the following:

  • Are you underspending? If you’ve given little thought to what budget is required, you’re likely unaware of the right amount needed to see results.
  • Are you overspending? Are you spending a lot and only getting some return? If you’re feeling that you should be doing better for the money you’re spending, you’re probably right.
  • Are you working in a black hole, where you have no idea where your money is going, and worse, not seeing any benefit?

4. How are you reaching your customers?

Have you thought through your customers’ journey and their path of purchase for your product or service? Not all marketing channels produce the same results, and your customers may not be on all channels equally. Make sure you’re choosing the channels that work best for your product or service, and keep it manageable to the capacity you have within the people on your team. Also, auditing your competitor’s channels can help you see how you measure up in the competitive landscape.

Have you followed this path to success? Are you struggling to figure it out? We want to hear about your experiences and would love to answer your questions.

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