I’ve had a pair of conversations with clients this week about marketing. People want to know if a specific marketing or advertising idea is a good investment or not. At Curvine, we know that you must first create an Internet Marketing budget before spending any money. How do I figure out how much money I should spend? Where should I spend it? We’ve come up with an easy, five-step process to help.
1. Determine Your Marketing Budget
One way to determine your overall marketing budget is to look at the last six months – where did you spend your money? Look at the cost of advertising in the yellow pages, newspaper, direct mailings, and even the cost of Web site maintenance. Now, are you satisfied with the amount you spent? Should you spend a little more, or stay the same? Try not to be too conservative in your final dollar amount. Instead, think in terms of a comparison ratio – if your business makes thousands of dollars in profit every month, you can afford more than just $50 a month on marketing.
If you have never spent money on advertising or marketing, another way to arrive the correct figure is to consider how much money you can safely afford to spend every month. It doesn’t matter what the number is – $50, $500 or $5,000,000 are all valid answers (though some low number might limit your options).
2. Get into the Mind of Your Audience
Who are your clients? Are they less likely, or more likely, to be Web-savvy? Keep in mind that those older than the Baby Boomer generation are less likely to search for your business over the Internet, though this getting better over time. Based on your understanding of your client demographic, estimate what percentage of your client base uses the Internet, and use that percentage to determine how much of your overall marketing budget should be spent on Internet marketing. If 50 percent of your clients use the Web, then 50 percent of your marketing budget should be spent on Web marketing.
3. Spend Your Web Marketing Budget
This sounds like common sense, but you really do need to spend money in order to make money. It isn’t enough to depend on your Web site alone to create sales — it is like creating a business card and not giving it to anyone. Split your Web advertising budget among at least 2 vendors. Give Google and Dex a chance, for instance. Or, advertise with your local better business bureau, convention and visitor’s bureau, or industry-specific sites.
4. Evaluate Your Efforts
You’ll need to determine a way to evaluate the results of your advertising dollars. If you place an ad with Google, or another search engine, they should provide you with a tracking report. Ask your clients how they found you. If you own a business where this isn’t practical, create a way you can see what sort of traffic your site, or advertising is getting – ask online customers to sign-up for your newsletter (the more sign-ups, the more successful your efforts). Or, create a coupon that’s only available online.
5. Experiment / Tweak
After you’ve evaluated your success, decide if you want to experiment with something entirely new, or just slightly tweak a resoundingly successful program. Don’t be lulled by your success – there is always room for improvement. You should not be discouraged by failure — that just means you haven’t found the answer and you need to keep looking. You do not, however, want to experiment with the amount of money you’re spending. Remember, it’s all about the ratio – you want to spend money where your clients will find you.