Why do so many waste their marketing budget?

Small businesses generally do not have huge amounts of money to throw around, so why do so many waste their marketing budgets?

The conversation often goes like this: “I spent $1,500 on some newspaper advertising as it was a really good deal, but I got nothing out of it, so then I spent $2,500 on radio because my best friends mate got me an extra good deal. That didn’t work out so well either! I then got cold called for some online advertising; paid my money and never got a sale!”

Does that sound familiar? So where did they go wrong? Where do I start? Firstly, small business or not, you need to sit down and create a marketing plan for the next year. Pre-planning is always a good first step to achieve the best outcome no matter what you are doing, and marketing is no different! It becomes your road map to help you achieve your goals. It is not to say you cannot make some variations along the way, but that structure will become your friend as you seek out positive results.

One of the common derivatives of not having a plan, is the “knee jerk” response that we see above, trying something for a short time, then deciding its not working and lurching to the next “great deal”. You want the best results from your marketing? Then you need to take a systematic, scientific approach. Test, modify, test, modify until you find what works best for you! In the example above, any one of the options may have worked, if they had spent more time analysing their advertising results and modifying before testing again.

If you make the call to advertise on a particular platform, then make sure you give it sufficient time, analysis and money before drawing conclusions, otherwise you run the risk of learning nothing and being financially worse off.

Before you advertise, understand the platform (I do not mean you need to be an expert), so that you can be confident it is a good fit for what you are trying to achieve. Do not be fooled by “great deals”. I had a client who chose to take on a radio campaign as the deal was too good to refuse! That is not the basis on which to make a good decision! In this case, the product required visuals to understand so would not translate well on radio. That “cheap deal” turned out to be a very expensive mistake! Consider your product/service in relationship to the platform options for advertising.

In terms of online advertising, the greatest amount of “intent” is demonstrated when people are on the Google Search network, so people are more likely to buy off a Google Search ad than they are off a Google Display ad or a Facebook Ad. That is not to say people will not buy directly from one of the latter two ad options, but it is less likely. These type ads can be very effective, but generally speaking are better suited to the slower burn, building brand awareness to ultimately result in sales. These ad formats are cheaper so are good for working in conjunction with the higher intent Google Search ads.

If you understand the benefits of a particular ad platform in advance, then you are much less likely to be disappointed as you will have the right expectations!

The benefit of online advertising is the far greater targeting and metrics that can be gained over the more scatter gun approach of traditional advertising!

Whatever the platform(s) you choose, make sure to receive data each month on your campaign. Discuss this with your account manager. If you are not getting the results then then they should be systematically and progressively making changes, rather than wholesale changes unless the campaign was truly horrible! Sometimes minor tweaks can make massive differences!

The next issue is measuring success. Too often businesses say their advertising was a failure but after a few questions, it becomes apparent they really do not know. Asking the buyer where they heard about you from is generally woefully inadequate. How to measure the success of your campaign is a topic for another blog, but too often business owners jump to conclusions without all the facts and accordingly make the wrong decisions and waste money!

How long you should test a platform, how much you should spend and what you should expect, depends a lot on your business and what you are selling.

The key takeaways are this:

  • Create a marketing plan each year.
  • Be patient and test, refine, test any marketing to get the best results.
  • Understand the benefits of each platform and choose ones that align best with your
    expectations and product/service.
  • Understand the potential complexity of measuring results and ensure you draw the
    right conclusions about your marketing success (or lack thereof)!

If you adopt these four takeaways, then you are much less likely to waste your valuable marketing budget!

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