“Touch Points” and Diversification Can Raise Your Brand Awareness
Developing a marketing plan for your business is a critical first step in growing leads. It can be a daunting task these days, as there are so many different vehicles available to reach a target audience. Research indicates that your target audience will need to be “touched” approximately seven times by your marketing message in order to influence a buying decision.
To effectively reach a prospective customer this many times, the business owner must implement a comprehensive marketing strategy with multiple touch points. Expensing money on a single marketing blast simply does not make sense as it will erode your budget before yielding the desired results. The commitment to a monthly marketing budget is therefore essential to your success.
Having the proper expectations of that marketing budget is directly correlated to the type of marketing you must do. Business to business marketing builds brand awareness and lends credibility to make direct sales efforts easier. However, it does not generate immediate leads like retail or consumer marketing. Most small business owners are unaware of this fact.
Using multiple marketing channels is the most effective way to convert prospects into buyers. You can greatly improve the impact of your marketing message by using a combination of print, web, social networks, radio, TV, video, trade show, or event appearances to gain exposure to the prospective customer.
Multiple vehicles bring a level of credibility to the services or products offered, while also repeatedly getting your message in front of the customer. The expertise of a marketing professional may be necessary in order to determine the appropriate marketing channel allocation.
Here are a few high impact ideas that can stretch your budget:
- Target customers in small niche markets that are easy to identify and affordable to reach.
- Capitalize on publicity through local media.
- Get involved in civic and community initiatives to give back.
- Create strategic alliances with other business entities to increase exposure.
- Take the time to ask for referrals from satisfied customers and follow up.
Plan to diversify your efforts in the spaces where your prospects are most likely to find you, keeping in mind that the marketing strategies that work well for one business (or industry) may not necessarily be appropriate for another. For instance, a Facebook or other social network presence may work very well if the prospect is looking for a special event venue, but not so well if your prospect is a corporate buyer looking for writing and communication services. One tactic definitely does not fit all!
Establishing a marketing budget
Unfortunately, many small business owners look at marketing as an expense, not an investment. This is their first big mistake. Good marketing builds sales and a future for any business. Therefore, marketing dollars should always be an integral part of monthly expenditures just like rent or salaries. Without them, success is purely a crap shoot.
A rule of thumb is to budget three to five percent of sales at a minimum per year for established businesses. When coming up with an annual figure for marketing costs, related expenses like market research, function attendance, trade shows, training, and expert services must also be taken into consideration. Special projects also need to be included, like the update of website graphics and content.
Once you have established your budget and started implementing your plan, it will be critical to follow the performance of your efforts. Ask new customers how they found you and track the answers as this will reveal where your time and money are best spent. Evaluate your marketing plan on a regular basis and tweak it throughout the year. Yearly evaluations yield better comparisons than monthly monitoring.
About the small business corner
The Small Business Corner is an informative nook of the magazine to advise small business owners on a variety of topics and help increase the bottom line. It is presented by the Meadowlands Regional Chamber’s Small Business Council (SBC).
Cheryl Finger of Graphic Innovations and Jeff Kramer of Kramer Associates. Graphic Innovations provides design and communication solutions for print and web. Finger can be reached at 973.616.0309. Kramer Associates is a full-service ad agency and marketing firm, which specializes in eliminating the “pack” mentality to marketing. Kramer can be reached at 201.599.9211.