Published July 2, 2012

Think Before You Leap - Assessing Your Marketing Strategy for Returns

Implementing a marketing strategy can be quite unnerving. As an entrepreneur or small business, it becomes very important to make sure that the strategy you plan to implement pays off. The number of options when it comes to marketing has increased tremendously over the last few years. Compared to the few options available before, you now have social media platforms, podcasts, blogs, more effective email marketing features, and other tools that allow you to communicate with your target audience.

With so many options available to them, both small and large companies may find it difficult to know which ones will generate the highest return. Many often succumb to the temptation of using a new technology without examining its suitability or the financial investment it will incur. Here are a few things that you should keep in mind before you make the leap into creating your company’s marketing strategy.

Importance of return on investment (ROI)

To put it simply, you are in the industry to make a profit. That is why it is a necessity to have an idea about the return on the marketing investments you will make. The sales process may be complicated or may involve too many parameters for you to clearly determine the ROI. In such situations, you should simplify the conditions and use uncomplicated parameters for calculating the ROI. This may not offer the most accurate results, however, a simple estimate is better than no estimate at all.

Consider the following when you are calculating the ROI.

  • There is always some cost involved when you are providing a service or a product. Even with consulting firms there are some physical costs involved that you should take into account.
  • A lot of firms tend to ignore the production costs and focus only on the media costs. You should include the production costs, as well as the time that certain employees invest in it. Overall, the marketing investment plays an important part in calculating the ROI.
  • Last but not the least is the revenue. It sometimes becomes difficult to associate the revenue with a particular marketing campaign, especially if you have multiple campaigns running.

Setting up limits

It is essential to set the threshold for your ROI before you begin your campaign. You should allocate a specific budget for every single campaign that you plan. If the estimations tell you that the campaign will not be able to hit the threshold you set as the ROI, then you should scrap it. Also, if you find that a particular campaign might go over the threshold, then you can divert some of the money into other projects.

Learning from the experience of others

More often than not, other companies in your industry have used a strategy similar to what you are planning to use. Search for other companies in your industry and identify the types of media and marketing outlets they are leveraging. Talk to your peers on LinkedIn, ask questions on Quora, and research Manta for businesses in your field. These social media platforms are great ways to get different perspectives, experiences, and expert opinions that will help you to make informed decisions. In certain cases, you may also find cases of companies who faced obstacles while executing a marketing strategy similar to yours, and from them you can learn how to prepare for company for the same obstacles.

Is the market profitable?

This is something that is often ignored by a lot of firms. When you are marketing a particular service, you should be confident that there is a real need for it in the market. If there aren't enough people in the market to allow for a consistent flow of revenue then you just end up wasting your money and time.

Conduct market research in order to identify whether that need is present. Initial research should include simply using search engines to search for your product or service. If the results are saturated with companies who would be competing with identify how your product or service will stand out. If your results turn up empty, turn to social media outlets to see if anyone is talking about a problem or issue that your product can solve. If enough people are voicing the same concerns than you likely have a strong enough case to continue your market research and drill down creating a detailed plan.

Importance of resources

You will realize that at times the difficult part is not coming up with the right plan, but it is coming up with a plan that can be implemented with the resources available to you. This becomes a very important issue especially for smaller companies. That is why before you begin, you should have a complete idea about the resources that will be required for the campaign.

Make a list of all the resources you will need to get the project started. This list will continue grow as the project comes to fruition. Determine the types of obstacles or issues you may encounter and decide what types of resources may be needed to avoid them or solve them. You will not be able to plan for everything, but creating a solid plan up front and building in some level of flexibility will help you in the long run.

Hidden costs

A lot of times firms start off with the campaign, having done all the required analysis, but as time goes on they find that the budget allocated is not sufficient. With certain projects, there may be hidden expenses that you had not considered when formulating your marketing strategy. This can affect your ROI significantly.

Marketing strategies have various aspects attached to them, and it is important that you analyze all of them before you begin work on your campaign. This will assure a good return on your valuable investment.