3 essential questions to ask yourself before you invest in marketing
For small business owners with limited funds, it is absolutely crucial that you invest your marketing budget wisely in order to achieve the best possible return on investment (ROI).
But with a wealth of different marketing tools to choose from, how do you make the smartest choice for your business? We’ve put together some key questions to help you out – three essential questions to ask yourself before investing your marketing budget*:
Question 1: Will I reach my target audience?
One of the first questions you should ask yourself when evaluating a potential marketing activity is whether you will be talking to your target audience. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? Yet many people jump into completely untargeted marketing campaigns that as a consequence, generate disappointing results (and are a waste of precious funds).
If for example, you run a creative business and are considering exhibiting at a craft fair, be sure to carefully research the event. What type of visitors will the fair attract? Do these visitors match your target customer profile? Are your products a good fit? Who else is going to be exhibiting? The event organisers should be able to provide this information easily enough or you can often find it detailed on their website. Depending on their scale, fairs can be a significant investment (especially if they involve travel and overnight accommodation), so it is very important to carefully consider the potential ROI before you allocate funds.
TOP TIP: Always keep your target market top of mind when you are evaluating any potential marketing activities.
Question 2: Will it help me achieve my broader business objectives?
Once you’ve established an online presence, you will likely find yourself regularly approached with potential marketing opportunities. Anything from website and social media support, to branded promotional items and slashed-price advertising opportunities (No thank you The Daily Mail, I do not want to pay £700+ for 1 million, untargeted banner ads!).
Lots of these ‘opportunities’ will be marketed using scarcity tactics and promotional pricing to get you on board. But before you say yes, take a step back and ask yourself whether the marketing activity in question will help you to achieve your broader business goals. (And as a side note – with these types of marketing activities, it is always preferable to work with recommended suppliers rather than anyone who has contacted you speculatively).
As an example, if you are invited to guest speak at a local small business event, whilst it may be flattering to be asked, take a moment to consider whether it is the right fit for you. Ask about the audience and other presenters, and of course the format and purpose of the event. If you feel it would be beneficial to your business (or at least a positive investment of your time in the local community), then go for it. But if you find yourself questioning the value of the opportunity (and feel that it will be taking you away from where your core focus should be), it might be better to politely turn the opportunity down.
TOP TIP: Don’t be afraid to say no to marketing opportunities that arise if you don’t feel that they will contribute to your broader business goals.
Question 3: How can I maximise my investment?
With any marketing activity that you carry out, always look for ways to get more bang for your buck. You don’t need to spend big to get results, even a small marketing budget can achieve great things if invested wisely. So what can you do to maximise your investment?
A great marketing activity for small businesses on a budget is to collaborate with other brands. Brand collaborations and cross-promotions create the perfect opportunity to get more people talking about your brand and to be exposed to a wider customer base (i.e., that of your fellow collaborator(s)). Collaborations can work well for both product and service-based businesses.
In this instance, both parties should put their heads together and brainstorm all the possible marketing and cross-promotional opportunities that will help you both achieve your goals. There are lots of ways in which you can promote your collaboration with low cost (if not free!) marketing support – your website, email marketing (super-easy to leverage each other’s lists), social media, printed promotional materials, local and national (if relevant) media if you have an enticing hook and your collaboration is something that a journalist would be keen to cover…and so on. Be sure to explore all possible avenues and promote before, during and after the collaboration (particularly on social media) – remember that it’s all about maximising your marketing investment!
TOP TIP: Collaborations can be a great way to increase brand visibility and grow your audience on a budget.
*There are of course other factors to consider such as the life-stage of your business, your longer-term plan, available budget and so on – but these three questions will help you sense check your marketing investment decisions.
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