Wish you could improve marketing in your business? You’re not alone.

Most business owners don’t have unlimited budgets for marketing. In fact, most have little to no budget. But the right marketing is critical to draw in new prospects, maintain brand image, and where possible, increase market share as competitors go out of business.

To do it right, the successful owners I interviewed to write The Success Code spent a great deal of time up front – determining the strength of their target markets and re-evaluating their value propositions, making their dollars stretch by using strategic alliances and other relationships in the community, and testing and measuring every strategy for return on investment.

What does it look like when a company’s marketing ROI falls into the “unhealthy” zone?

You waste precious time and money, only to be disappointed by the lack of prospects in your pipeline. Low numbers of prospects lead business owners to commit acts of desperation – heavy discounting, promising expensive changes to products, stretching the scope of services in order to “win the sale,” taking on customers who aren’t a good fit – chasing, chasing, chasing. These desperate acts erode profitability and, worst of all, they erode your confidence in your own abilities.

Why isn’t it working?

Business owners tend to be self-sufficient do-it-yourselfers. That “git ’er done” attitude is often a boon in business, but when it comes to marketing, taking on the entire function yourself may be a bad idea for the following reasons:

  • “Unconscious incompetence,” or “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Reading a few articles in your industry trade magazine or attending a marketing workshop aren’t enough to give you the foundational principles you need to make sound decisions.
  • It’s hard to be objective – you can’t see your company, your products and services with an unbiased perspective. And that makes it tricky to market effectively.
  • The hallmark of good marketing is ROI (return on investment). That means that you have to invest, whether it’s through your own time or paying an outside professional. Consider the highest and best use of your time. Is it marketing or other business activities?

4 Ways to Get More ROI from Your Marketing

  1. Get really clear on the traits of your very best customers.  Talk to them.  Survey them. Hire someone to figure it out.  If you know exactly who loves what you offer AND you know how they buy your products and services, it will be far easier to know exactly what marketing strategies to use.
  2. Focus on your strengths. Whenever possible, our top-performing business owners hired out their marketing. Except for those few for whom marketing is an innate talent, the owners recognized that they can’t be good at all things, so they found a resource within their budget and got the job done.
  3. Continuously improve. Most of the business owners I researched were consistently tweaking their marketing strategies to improve results. What’s more, none of them stopped marketing during the recession. They may have kept a sharper eye on the budget, but they didn’t stop, so consistency is key.
  4. Measure and measure. Clear ROI requires tracking your marketing efforts and results. It’s no coincidence that the highest-performing companies were also those that tracked and measured their critical activities, including marketing. Diane, owner of a home medical supply company, said, “We’re rebranding and turning up the advertising budget, but you can be sure we’ll be measuring ROI.” 

Bottom Line 

If you’re not a marketing professional, chances are you’ll need some outside help in order to see some ROI – don’t waste more time and money than you’d spend hiring a professional trying to do it yourself. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on marketing, look into lower-cost options like hiring a local freelancer or outsource using websites like elance.com, freelance.com, guru.com, 99designs.com, or behance.com.

Marketing may require an investment, but it doesn’t have to run the well dry. When your marketing is in the “healthy” zone, you should be bringing in more than you spend. Are you in the zone?