No marketing budget – no point


no marketing budgetThere are very few SME businesses who aren’t looking to grow, but let’s be honest up front: if you have no marketing budget you will commit to spending, there is no point in seeking professional help.

Let’s look at this in detail.

If you are looking for help to improve your business growth, something isn’t working right now.  This could be a number of things:

  1. Your marketing isn’t generating any leads
  2. You aren’t closing the leads you get from your marketing
  3. The business is losing clients as quickly as you add new ones, or
  4. You aren’t doing any marketing

All of these four issues need investment if they are to be fixed:

No Leads from your Marketing

The simplest issue here could be that you simply aren’t doing enough to generate the awareness you want within your target market.  That may be a simple volume thing: do more of what you are already doing.  The chances are that this is too simplistic.

You may be sending the wrong messages. This is one of the most common issues I see. The messages are usually product-related rather than about the client and what they will get out of using  your services.

You may be aiming at the wrong audience. Just because you want to sell into, for example, the financial services sector, doesn’t mean they want to buy from you.

The chances are that it is a combination of these.

Not closing your leads

There are number of potential problems here, starting with the simplest: your sales team cannot close.

Of course, the age-old argument will then rear its ugly head: Sales vs. Marketing. Both will say it is the other department’s fault. Is one or, indeed, either of them right?

Are you attracting the wrong leads?  If the top of your pipeline is full, but the bottom nearly empty, too many leads are being qualified out – by you or by them.

Losing Clients

Losing clients is a more complicated issue and could be that some people are too good at their jobs.  If Sales are excellent at closing, they may be selling something to the prospects rather than nothing.  They may be selling the wrong thing – because they don’t earn any commission if they don’t.

If we assume that your Sales team are honorable and won’t sell the wrong product, it is the delivery that is at fault.

Is it that the service simply isn’t good enough?

Is it that you aren’t helping your clients get the maximum benefit from your product or service? If they aren’t trained on how to use what you sell them, what can you expect?

No marketing at all

Surprisingly, this is the one that is least likely to be the case, but often what I hear from business owners. Every business owner and director is doing some marketing. Does this sound familiar? You may not be doing any formal marketing, but I guarantee you are networking and you are managing your clients with the aim of getting referrals and introductions.

All of the above have one thing in common: you need to work out what is not working and then develop a plan of action that will improve matters.  You have to invest in finding out what is wrong. You have to invest in providing the training to fix the skills gaps and then if you describe your issues as Nos. 1, 2 or 4, you have to invest in doing more or better.

Of course, if you are prepared to allocate a budget to your marketing, get in touch.

What is your 2018 Marketing Strategy?

what is your 2018 marketing strategy?

2018 is coming fast

January 2nd 2018 still seems a long time away. In reality, it is only 15 weeks or so.  If your financial year is the calendar year, what are you planning to do to attract new business? What does your 2018 marketing strategy look like?

With 16 weeks to go, where are you with your planning?  Have you started thinking about setting targets for your business? Your targets form the core of your marketing strategy for the new financial year; without them it is difficult to develop and implement a new marketing plan.

Our previous blog talks about the process of moving from business growth targets to marketing budget, so today we just want to get you thinking about 2018.

Let’s have a look at just how long some things really take:

Do you need a new website?

If your current website isn’t working for you, a new website is going to take 2-3 months to plan, build and fill with content.

Yes, you can “whip one up” in a few days, but is one that hasn’t been carefully thought through going to work any better than your current one?

Do you know what marketing worked for you this year?

The time you need for this depends on how much information you’ve been gathering throughout the year.  If your CRM has a lead source field and you’ve been filling it in religiously, then the anaylsis will take just a few hours. If not, you have the choice: use “gappy” data or work to gather what you need. One will take, probably, a day or two. The other is unreliable.

Are you using the right marketing messages?

If your website isn’t working, the headlines and key messages aren’t resonating with the readers. Developing a new set of messages is a process. Starting with Who you want to talk to and the issues they face.

The time element for this is relatively small – a day or so – but it needs to happen early on because it impacts on everything you do afterwards.

What marketing are you going to do?

Once you’ve confirmed who your Ideal Client is and what you want to say to them, the next question is How are you going to get your messages in front of them in a way that will encourage them to engage?  In other words, what marketing will you do?

  • Will they come to you or will you have to go to them?
  • Does what you sell carry a high perceived risk factor?
  • What marketing channels should you use?
  • How long is the sales cycle?
  • How many do you have to sell each year to hit your targets?

These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourselves as you plan your marketing for 2018.

Again, the time you need to spend on this is relatively short – a day or two.

Are you committed?

In this situation, committed means both mentally and financially.  There is often a simple formula applied to marketing budgets: it should be X%. Even if that percentage didn’t deliver on targets last year, it will have to this year somehow. Your marketing performance analysis will tell you what you need to know about your marketing spend. From there you can calculate how much you need to spend. If last year’s marketing generated half the sales you needed to hit targets, this year you have to change one of two things:

  1. The marketing you did, or
  2. The amount you spent on it

After all, the definition of madness is continuing to do what you’ve always done and expecting different results.

The time needed for this will vary. The maths is easy: where are you going to find additional marketing funding from?  Do you accept reduced profits in the short term or do you cut the spend in other areas?

The mental side will take some time. After all, you have to accept that you are spending more. You have to accept that some of the new marketing channels you try may not work first time. For example, many people still believe that a single advert in a magazine should produce leads and they get disheartened when they phone doesn’t ring. In reality, almost no ads generate sales in the first edition.  They may not in the 2nd, but they should start to after that. This is because people start to recognise the brand and then read the ad. You have to commit to the long term for something like this.  That can take some time, mentally, to accept.

As you can see, there is plenty to do before 2018 starts. You won’t do much of this in December because you have Christmas to think about – and that’s far more fun. So you need to start thinking about it at least three months in advance.

Want to talk?