Features

Published on January 4th, 2016 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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4 Smart Marketing Resolutions for 2016

By Rieva Lesonsky, Guest Blogger

Happy New Year! Have you resolved to take your small business to bigger and better heights in 2016? Then one of the best moves you can make is to upgrade your marketing. Here are four marketing resolutions that every small business owner should consider making for 2015.

1.) Invest more money in your marketing. I see so many small business owners who make the (sometimes fatal) mistake of playing Scrooge when it comes to their marketing. By pinching pennies, they may save a few dollars here and there, but they lose out on bigger opportunities. It’s important to look at marketing costs as investments in your business and your brand—not as expenses.

When I’m feeling stressed that a marketing tactic my company is considering is too costly, I always stop to assess how much new business could come from it. If spending $500 on ads this month stands a good chance of netting you a client that could be worth $50,000 a year, isn’t that worth the investment? Yes, you win some, you lose some, but if you make resolution #2, you’ll lose less.

2.) Assess the results of your marketing. Of course, one reason many small business owners are reluctant to spend money on marketing is that they fail to keep track of results. Therefore, they never know exactly what marketing campaigns attracted new customers or converted to sales. With only a haphazard idea of what works and what doesn’t, they begin to view spending on marketing as throwing good money after bad.

Whether you’re advertising online, marketing with social media or using traditional marketing methods such as print or cable television advertising, there is always a way to track your results. Use your website’s analytics tools to see what specific online marketing campaigns attract users, get them to click and convert them to buyers. Use codes in your print, TV or radio ads to track which specific ads bring customers in to your store or business.

If all else fails, try the easiest method: Ask customers where they heard about your business! Take time at the end of each month, each quarter and each year to review your results and plan for how you’ll modify your marketing accordingly. This can help you save money by spending less on tactics that aren’t fruitful for you.

3.) Devote more time to marketing. When you’re swamped with business, it’s hard to make time for marketing—and it may seem like you don’t need to market much if business is falling into your lap. Unfortunately, this state of affairs never lasts, and suddenly you’re twiddling your thumbs with no new business in the pipeline.

I admit I fall prey to this problem myself—it’s easy to do. Set a rule that you will devote at least 20 percent of your time to marketing your business, no matter what. If you’ve got extra time during a slow period, you can put in even more. Here are a couple of quick marketing techniques you can use when you’re slammed:

Reach out to current customers with a special offer or discount on additional services or products related to past purchases.

Contact satisfied customers to see if they’re willing to give you referrals. Then follow up with the referrals within a week or two.

4.) Always be looking ahead. It’s easy to keep your head down, nose to the grindstone and work so hard on your current business that before you know it, your marketing methods are outdated and your competitors have left you in the dust. Don’t let this happen to you! Keep your head up and pay attention to your customers, your competitors and your industry. How are your competitors marketing? What new developments are affecting the way businesses in your industry market? How are your target customers changing and what new markets might you reach out to next? Growth can come from unexpected places, so don’t discount anything you notice. One startup entrepreneur I know noticed her marketing was drawing customers from unexpectedly far away to shop in her store. By paying attention to the results of her marketing and the demographics of her customers, she was able to seize the opportunity to open a second store. Now, both locations are thriving.

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