Marketing: What to know before you spend your dough

Wikimedia, Nick Ares

Wikimedia, Nick Ares

You must answer this question before you try to promote your business.

By Roy Harryman

Principal, Roy Harryman Marketing Communications

I begin all marketing consultations with this question: “What problems could marketing solve for you or what results would you like it to achieve?”

In other words: What do you want to get out of this, specifically? What will success look like?

Several times this question has been meet with an awkward silence. It was clear the entrepreneur had been so busy working that he didn’t know the answer and might have never even contemplated it.

Once, the answer was: “Well, we don’t really have anything.”

Whether you are an army of one or are leading a large company, this question must be squarely faced before you spend a dime on marketing, advertising, public relations or social media.

Otherwise, you’re shooting at an unseen, unidentified target in the dark.

You might hit it, but you’ll certainly waste a lot of resources in the process.

Don’t get me wrong. Marketing certainly involves trial and error. But we can shrink the margin of error by at least knowing what we are trying to accomplish.

Depending on the business or organization, your marketing goal may be:

  • More retail foot traffic
  • More contributions or volunteers
  • Finding new employees
  • More sales appointments
  • Becoming known to customers in a new geographic territory

Once we know what success looks like, we can then step back and begin doing research and developing a plan. At that point, there are many variables.

  • Should we use Facebook or LinkedIn (or other networks)?
  • Do we have an email database that will reach the target?
  • How much do we want to spend?
  • Will the company run the campaign or will it be run by someone on the outside?

These are all important questions. And often there is not one right answer. But they are secondary to knowing exactly what you want and need to turn marketing dollars into profit.