Playing darts in the dark will hurt you Featured

7:00pm EDT November 30, 2006
 

Enter an enclosed room in your house, turn off the lights, and invite a few of your best prospects to join you in a game of darts. Just start throwing darts and see if you can hit the dart board. Pretty silly, right?

When it comes to marketing programs, many of the business executives are doing just that, running marketing programs like throwing darts in the dark. Whether it’s placing a media buy because you like the rep, you were told it was a good buy, or because it’s the latest idea that an executive in your company had, all constitute making poor business decisions; making decisions by the seat of your pants. Throughout the year, executives keep trying new concepts with no true strategies in mind — just to see if they work. As silly as this sounds, many executives are doing this every day. Not only do you need a marketing and communications plan, but you need the strategy to back it up. Understand who you are reaching out to, what they want, what they need and the best way to reach them.

Spending too much on marketing
If you spend thousands of dollars on a campaign and haven’t reaped the benefits of your efforts, then you’ve spent either too much or spent it in the wrong places. Many businesses neglect to conduct the necessary research before spending money on a marketing campaign. They make the common mistake of believing that they truly understand the nuances of marketing and advertising in their industry and just dive right in. Little do they know that there are specific strategies and methods used to create a great marketing campaign that optimizes a marketing budget.

Messaging & communication
What are you trying to say? If you haven’t secured a message, how are you going to convey one to your customers? This is a key component when devising a marketing plan. You must develop a message that you want to communicate to your customers. The message should be the lifeline of your campaign. All of your images and ad copy should focus on your messaging.

Know your customers. If you’ve completed adequate research about your customers, then you should be able to identify your key message. Understanding your audience is an important concept that is consistent throughout a marketing campaign.

Once you have developed the proper message, you must evaluate the message that you are trying to deliver to the public. After you’ve identified your target audience, you must choose the best medium of communication for the audience. Not all media outlets are suited for your specified market. Communication media includes print, broadcast, Internet and more.

Expensive vs. inexpensive
Identify the various price-points of effective marketing tools and create a plan that best suits your budget. Not everyone can afford an intense newspaper advertising campaign or television commercials. A variety of advertising methods can convey your messaging, such as direct mail, e-blasts, Internet banners, radio advertising, billboards, promotional items, public relations and more.

You have to assess your message, your budget, your customer, and then choose the right method for your marketing campaign. If you have a small local business, you might not want to spend an excessive amount of money on billboards. The most cost-effective advertising might be newspaper advertisements in local papers; however, this marketing decision should be based on market research.

Return on investment
Make sure you identify your desired Return on Investment (ROI). If what you have been doing thus far hasn’t helped increase your revenue, then reevaluate your process.

Remember, marketing does not sell. Marketing opens the door and presents the opportunity for sales to occur.

You can track your marketing efforts by monitoring sale increases or sale opportunities. There are a variety of tracking methods that allow you to evaluate your marketing strategies. They can be as simple as having your employees ask new customers how they heard about your company or as high tech as Web site tracking reports.

Based on the information you retrieve from your tracking methods, you will be better equipped with the data to make any necessary changes to your marketing plan. The results from your research will allow you to assess and possibly revise your marketing plan. You will be able to better gauge whether you need to spend more or less on your marketing efforts.

MALCOLM A. TEASDALE is the principal and “Big Idea Catalyst” of Teasdale Worldwide, a strategic marketing firm headquartered in Tampa. Reach him at mat@ScreaminEyes.com. To obtain a new direction, increase revenue and the expertise to facilitate customers’ Unique Buying Advantages, call Kathi Kasel at (813) 868-1520 or e-mail Kathi@MarketingofDistinction.com. To view additional articles, register at www.MalcolmOutLoud.com.