I have come across many businesses throughout my marketing profession who don’t have a concrete business or marketing plan in place. In some instances, this is due to time or financial constraints or simply because they don’t fully understand the long-term value it will create for their business when a level of spend is required. But the question is, how much is NOT having a marketing strategy costing your business?
Effective marketing is a process of discovery, fact finding and interpretation rather than just a list of activity
At Walton Marketing & Communications we see the route to achieving marketing that creates real value as a journey, starting with a process of learning and understanding about your business, customers and markets before recommendations and a consistent plan of activity can be formed.
We find that one of the biggest mistakes businesses make is to assume. By that we mean, assuming what they believe their customers value about their brand, products and services and what inspires them to purchase or not. Also making assumptions early on about what marketing activity and channels they feel are required to meet business goals or indeed what they believe their businesses strengths and weaknesses to be.
The key is to do your market research early on, review the external market, have more conversations, ask your customers and staff for their opinions and insights. Collect and use the information that is around you from sales data to competitor insights. This will help shed light on the marketplace, customer views and exactly what it is the people who buy from you value about your business but also help you understand more about the opportunities that exist for your organisation.
It’s so important that this preliminary research is undertaken first, to identify where the gaps are and set clear goals otherwise you are simply creating a list of activity that fails to align to any long-term vision, making success hard to measure.
To spend or invest?
Unfortunately implementing marketing costs money but it’s how you value its role in helping support the bigger picture that matters. Some talk about marketing “spend” whilst others refer to marketing “investment”.
You’ll probably agree that those who talk about spend will more than likely see it as one of the first things that need to go in a business when times get tough. Ironically though, it is those that invest in marketing even during downtimes who will maintain a consistency, that will help them build profitability and meet their goals over time. Marketing strategy and planning provides the structure and framework to make this happen.
How much should I spend to remain consistent?
Well this is the million-dollar question and will depend a lot on your business goals and objectives but the general rule of thumb is that marketing spend should be around 2-10% of your annual turnover. You don’t have to commit to a full year of spend though. Why not commit to a few months of activity and review outcomes after that period? The key to any successful marketing activity is to monitor and review it on an ongoing basis, assessing its impact and essentially doing more of what’s working and less of what isn’t!
It’s not working ….
It’s common to sometimes hear businesses worry about whether activity is working or going to work. The key here is to ask yourself why you feel your marketing isn’t working? Is it because you haven’t taken those preliminary first research steps? Have you jumped straight into implementing a list of activity without analysing your business, goals and customer needs first? Have you put enough resource and budget behind your activity? Are you exploring the right channels and are you implementing activity consistently?
In some cases, we see that businesses simply aren’t doing enough of a good thing and stop after a couple of months. They say it takes customers 7 times to see your brand before they consider a purchase so be consistent and stay present in their minds. Monitoring and reviewing activity on an ongoing basis, adapting and making changes will also help avoid the risk of unsuccessful activity.
When you’re mulling over the benefits of marketing and wondering whether it’s worth the investment… ask yourself how much is NOT having a plan costing your business?
Lastly, enjoy the process. It really is fascinating what you learn about your business when you dig a little deeper…