Determining Your Marketing Methods
Jackie Jarvis is the Director of Marketingco, a marketing consultancy which she created to make it easier for small businesses to get results from their marketing efforts. Her aim is to facilitate the 'thinking businesses need to do' before taking their products to market, as well as the thinking they need to do when they do. Jackie regularly speaks at networking events, runs a series of workshops, and writes articles for local business publications. She is based in Wallingford, Oxon.
- 30 Knowing the three ways to grow a business
- 31 How to test and measure the return you get from marketing
- 32 Choosing the best methods to market your business
- 33 Being creative with your ideas
your small business
30 Knowing the three ways to grow a business
To grow any business you will need to either attract new customers or increase transaction value and frequency of purchase of the customers you have already got. Or even better you can do all three.
If you were the owner of a baker’s shop one way to sell more would be to attract more customers. You could do this by offering a free loaf to every new customer. Another way would be to sell more to the customers you have got. You could offer a special meal deal that consists of a baguette, a cake, a packet of crisps and a drink at a special package price. A third way would be to encourage the customers you have got to come in and shop more frequently. You could do that by creating a loyalty card and giving discounts for frequent visits.
Why is this information important?
Many people focus on getting new customers as if this was the only way to build business. This is in fact the most costly and time-consuming route to more business. Building business with existing customers by creating ways for them to buy more and more often is a far cheaper and quicker way to increase revenues and ultimately profits.
Your challenge is to know your figures and to open your mind to ways to develop each of the three ways to grow any business.
The dimensions of business growth
Your total business revenue will be made up out of the number of customers you have, multiplied by the amount they spend, multiplied by how often they spend it.
CHECK YOUR OWN DIMENSIONS OF BUSINESS GROWTH – SPECIAL RESPONSE QUESTIONS
- How many customers do you have right now?
- How much do they spend in an average transaction with you?
- How many times a year do they spend this with you?
- What would happen if you increased these figures by 5%, 10%, 20% or 50%?
- What ideas do you have that could increase transaction value?
- What ideas do you have that could increase frequency of purchase?
How to use this information
Evaluate some of the tactics for boosting business with existing customers and attracting new customers. Choose the best to integrate into your business and you can expect to see a measurable impact on your bottom line.
31 How to test and measure the return you get from marketing
What is testing and measuring?
Testing and measuring means finding out what specific results you are getting from the marketing activities you engage in. It is about generating some tangible facts and figures to support your future marketing plans. It will enable you to go beyond gut feel or ‘suck it and see’. By testing and measuring you will create the figures, the sales results and the numbers to support your marketing proposals.
Why is it important?
Do you know for sure which of your current marketing methods work the best? Can you tell where the majority of your new enquiries come from? Do you know how much of your product or service you sold as a direct result of a particular advertising campaign? If you do not have this information you have no way of learning about your business or your customers’ responses to your marketing activities. How can you fine tune your delivery to improve results if you don’t know what they are in the first place? How can you make decisions about where to spend your budget year on year? How can you decide what to drop and what to repeat? Testing and measuring the specific results you get from marketing is absolutely necessary if you want to evaluate your return on any investment you make.
Your challenge will be setting up a system to test and measure each of your marketing activities. You will need the discipline to work your system until you have gathered enough information to come to meaningful conclusions. Don’t give up before you have had a chance to test and measure thoroughly. It will be worth it in the long run. You will save time, money and effort by ultimately focusing on what works and stop wasting money on what doesn’t.
Some marketing methods will be harder to test than others. Direct response marketing like advertising, direct mail, email campaigns and telesales campaigns are easier to test and measure than general brand awareness marketing like poster campaigns, transport advertising and billboards. To come to a buying decision customers may have come into contact with a number of your marketing messages over a period of time before a positive response is triggered.
What makes testing and measuring successful?
Testing and measuring needs to be systematic. You need to decide how each method will be tested and measured prior to starting. You will also need a system of recording the information. A simple spreadsheet can be an easy way to do this.
Test on a smaller scale first
If you are planning a direct mail campaign, test a smaller number on a targeted group and count up the responses you get before you send out the larger batch. If it doesn’t work well enough you will have a chance to fine tune the approach, then try a different headline or a different offer.
Get team understanding and support
If you have a team of people working in your business it is likely that they will be involved in gathering customer response information. The more they understand about the importance of finding out what is working and what isn’t the more likely they will be to follow through with the system necessary to get it right.
Choose the right measure for the right method
Make your measures creative and different. You may make a specific offer in one advert. You might have a particular response process that applies to a sales campaign that enables you to track the results. You could propose an outrageous freebie in a local directory listing. You may set up different codes or reply references on email campaigns. You may have signed up to a website traffic report. The measure will need to be appropriate to the marketing method used and easy to monitor.
Ask people where they heard about you
Asking people where they heard about your business is probably the easiest and most instant way to get answers. Get everybody in your organisation to gather this information. It can be done on the telephone when you get an enquiry. It can be asked in conversation or at the end of a customer transaction. This information needs to be recorded, collated and evaluated.
YOUR TEST AND MEASURE – SPECIAL RESPONSE CHECKLIST
- What marketing methods are you using at the moment?
- How are you testing and measuring the return you get?
- Do you know what is working best?
- If not, what could you do to introduce relevant measures?
- How could you systemise your testing and measuring process?
- Decide on what you can test and measure.
- How you are going to do it?
- How and who is going to record the information?
- Review results and make decisions.
How to use this information
The information must be used to optimise the return you get from your marketing. Cut out those methods that do not work after thoroughly testing and fine tuning. Use more of the methods that work by doing everything you can to maximise impact.
For example if your window display is one of the most popular customer magnets, then make the most of it. Change the display, promote special offers, use it to introduce new products. Keep it clean and clear. Use testing and measuring to support continuous learning about your marketing and your customers’ responses.
32 Choosing the best methods to market your business
What are the best methods?
The best methods to market your business are those that enable you to target the right people with the right message and gain the greatest return on your investment.
Why is it important to analyse the right methods for your business?
There are so many methods out there in the marketplace to choose from that you could be overwhelmed with information and possibilities. There is a lot to learn about how each method works and what is involved in getting it set up. It is important to understand and appreciate how each method could form a vital part of your marketing strategy before you make big decisions about how you spend your marketing budget. Poor decisions can result in a lot of wasted time and effort.
Your challenge will be to avoid getting overloaded with information and allowing that to stop you taking action. Paralysis by analysis can be a problem for many. Find quick and easy ways of exploring the potential of the marketing methods that could be ideal for your business. This book is designed to give you the essentials, enabling you to move forward swiftly to create a strategy that has the best chance of working for you.
YOUR BEST METHOD SELECTION CRITERIA – SPECIAL RESPONSE CHECKLIST
When evaluating any potential marketing method you can check out its viability by running it through this checklist.
- What is the method?
- What do you know about it?
- What marketing goals do you expect this method will help you to achieve?
- What other business similar to yours has used this method and got results?
- Can you find this out?
- What kind of result is it possible to achieve?
- What are the potential benefits for a business like yours?
- Is there any guarantee of success?
- What are the risks involved?
- What resources, investment and time are required to get it set up?
- Have you got the resources and time to set up and run this marketing method?
- What will it cost you in terms of time and money to do this?
- How will you measure your success?
How to use this information
Read this book and take note of any of the methods that you think could work for your business. Run each you choose through this checklist before you add it to your marketing plan.
33 Being creative with your ideas
What does being creative mean?
Being creative is all about your ability to come up with ways of doing things differently. It is about thinking outside of normal boundaries and rules, thinking outside of the box that the majority stay within. Creative thinkers use more of their right brain which is that part of your brain that accesses ideas and concepts, as opposed to their left brain which controls logic and order. We can all be creative if we allow ourselves to be and being good at marketing your business will need you to develop ways to capture the spirit of your business and stand out from the crowd.
Why is it important?
With the persistent competition for market share and the ever increasing pressure to do things better, cheaper and quicker in order to stand a chance of success, creative thinking is a must. If you can, come up with innovative ways of promoting yourself you will be remembered when others are forgotten. It is often easier to follow the crowd in any industry, to do something because it is expected or because it has always been done that way. It takes courage to break free and be different. Good creative ideas can propel you forward and help you to stimulate the mind of your customer.
Some business owners would not describe themselves as being creative. This is probably because they have never really allowed themselves to be. By creating the right circumstances and allowing your mind to run free we all have the potential for bright ideas. Being creative is all about opening your mind to possibilities and letting go of the reins of control. Most of us come up with our best ideas when we are relaxed, enjoying ourselves or being stimulated by a new environment. It is hardest to be creative when you are walking the treadmill of familiar daily tasks. Your greatest challenge will be to create opportunities to let your mind relax giving it a chance to get stimulated outside of a normal routine environment.
HOW TO BE CREATIVE – SPECIAL RESPONSE CHECKLIST
- Where are you when you find you come up with your best ideas? Go there more often.
- Have you tried a creative marketing ideas brainstorming session with your team?
- Take your team out of the office and just let your minds run free: all ideas are accepted no matter how crazy. If you create an environment that is free from criticism and analysisyou will be amazed at what comes up.
- Some of the reality business programmes on television like Risking It All, The Apprentice, Dragons’ Den are great for stimulating ideas. If you see something you like, think about how you could apply it to your business in a different way.
- What kind of fun creative activity do you think would get your business some attention?
- What kind of competition could you run?
- What could you do that would attract some positive press coverage?
- What could you do that is different and unique?
- Get yourself a brightly coloured artist’s pad and some coloured pens. Help yourself think creatively by drawing and linking ideas together. Mind maps are a useful way of connecting your ideas and allowing one thought to branch off into another.
- Keep a record of your ideas whenever they occur to you and let them develop.
- What could you do that would really communicate the spirit of your business?
How to use this information
When you come up with a new and different approach to the marketing or advertising of your business make sure that it has the best chance of attracting the right people and giving out the right message about your business. Keep your eye on your brand image and make sure that anything you do is supportive of it. If your idea ticks all the right boxes give it a try and just like any other marketing method you use it will need to be tested and measured.