How to prioritise your promotional marketing choices

Marketing in a nutshellMany business owners take an ad hoc approach to promotional activity based on the latest fad, their own preferences or something they’ve been sold, rather than being focused on the customer. Often they do not consider how that activity will meet their business goals; promotional activities are carried out in isolation from the business plan. It’s well worth considering how a single activity fits into your overall customer communications pathway for optimum effect.

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked by small business owners is, “How do I prioritise the marketing activities I need to do”?”

In a growing business, time is tight so it’s a good question.

When you’ve got lots of ideas of your own, lots of recommendations from friend and family (who might or might not know what they’re talking about), and everyone you meet seems to want to sell you their email marketing/setting up a Twitter account/questionable mailing list/advert in their magazine, all with the claim that it will “raise your profile” and thus lead instantly to untold riches, how do you pick the ones that work?

It’s easy to get sucked into all sorts of “bright ideas” that turn out to be costly and time-consuming mistakes. Or to be so stunned by the choices available you end up making one at all.

Here are some things to consider before embarking on a course of action:

Focus on the needs of your business

And not on those of people who have their own reasons for getting you excited about the latest gimmick.

If somebody wants to sell you something, it’s because that’s how they make their money, it’s not out of the goodness of their hearts. They could be excellent at what they do – and you need to be confident of that before you decide to buy from them. What they do could be perfect for your business – but that’s for you to understand before you part with your cash.

Will it contribute towards your business goals?

And how will you know? What will you put in place to measure success? Your goals should be quantifiable and you need to do some sums beforehand to check what it would take to see a return on your investment.

Can it work alone? Have you considered what you need to wrap around it?

For example, you might be sold an email campaign. The person you’d buy this off might be highly technically proficient and do a good job – as far as they’re able. But if they’re working with a list you’ve provided that is not well targeted, if you haven’t defined your offer well, if the step that follows is just confusing to your prospects, it really doesn’t matter how competent your supplier is, the campaign is likely to fall flat.

Is it right for your market?

You need to meet your audience where they are so it’s essential that you choose the right tools and media to meet their preferences (not yours). Do a bit of research before you commit and fine tune your plans accordingly.

Can you test first?

If you’re considering embarking on a promotional campaign that could pay off but will involve you taking a bit of a chance (maybe you’d consider buying in a database of contacts if it worked well on your current ones), can you test it in a low-key way first?

So don’t get stuck in the headlights from the glare of all that choice. And don’t get swept away on a rush of enthusiasm. Take a little time to see how well that “opportunity” fits with your own aims and then act with purpose.

Talk to us about practical marketing advice