Somerset Accountant Asks About: Marketing On A Shoestring?

Somerset Accountant Asks About: Marketing On A Shoestring?

December 12, 2011

“People will try to rain on your parade because they have no parade of their own.”
– Jeffrey Gitomer

First of all, if you have NOT contacted us about your year-end moves for your business tax situation, it’s likely that you will be leaving some savings on the table. That’s fine if you choose to do so, but if you’d prefer to explore your tax planning options while you still can, call us at 606-678-4372, and we’ll get back in touch.

Moving on … I sometimes get asked how it is that we grew this business, and how we advertised. (I’m surprised MORE people don’t ask though, as I know I’m continually seeking out smart business owners to determine how I can learn from them.) Well, when someone asks me this question and REALLY does want to know my answer, I give a form of what I’ve written about this week. It’s all about building a marketing plan that works, no matter the budget. It requires some different thinking than you might be used to.

Mark Clark’s “Real World” Business Strategy Marketing on a Shoestring

Here’s the deal: Marketing can be expensive, sure. That’s why you do NOT want to “come huge” right out of the gate with new campaigns. Instead, it’s a very good idea to “test” small, and then continue to tweak and improve what works. Even before I get into technique, I want to get that in your head right out of the gate…it’s a big mistake made by incredible amounts of my small business owner friends.

Here’s how you do it right… Start with a small list of about 300 prospects. Anything less than this isn’t a very good sample size for a test. Frankly, even this is a bit small–I usually prefer at least 1000 names on my list for a test…but it’ll do on a budget. Send out at least 2 steps before you consider it a failure. Include a true tracking mechanism. This can be a dedicated 800 number, or local number from this particular mailing. It could be a special appointment or product request form, requesting a specific Free Report, using a particular mini-website to gather information–it actually doesn’t matter a LOT.

What matters most is that you have a way to separate out any respondents from this particular mailing AWAY from other kinds of inquiries from yellow pages, referrals, etc. Measure results by ROI. You can spend a bunch of money to get high response rates, and when the economics are there … it’s not a bad idea. If your transaction size is large, you can do more creative strategies (lumpy mail, unusual items to get things opened and read, etc.)…but the main thing to track is ROI, not “response rates”, because actual ROI is the only consistent “across the board” metric. Try to beat your best. First, you need to HAVE a “best” piece.

Once you’ve established the best test results, then it’s your job to tweak small elements (NOT the entire piece) to see what works better. This is where it gets fun! You see, you get to see instant feedback about what’s really working.  Then, as you see higher numbers from different elements that you test, retain those, and keep honing and building something truly great.

Follow these steps, and you won’t blow your budget on unproven marketing.