Finding customers (and keeping them) is crucial to your business. Most businesses start out by managing their own marketing, because they don’t have a great deal of cash and they can typically drum up enough business through their existing contacts to keep them busy. That’s absolutely the right thing to do in that situation.
As your business grows though, you and your key people get more stretched and might have multiple areas of responsibility. There may come a time when whoever handles your marketing needs to get some help from a marketing specialist. That might mean hiring in someone to do in-house marketing, or it might mean working with an external consultant like myself. Either way, the signs that you need help are the same, and here are a few of them….
(1) You’re not working to a plan.
Do you have a plan that you’re working to for your marketing? One that tells you what you’re trying to achieve and how you’re going to measure success? Many people don’t – especially in small businesses, so if you haven’t, you’re far from alone. Businesses often dabble in a few bits of marketing activity just to see how it goes. Then they try different things but never get round to writing a plan. You don’t want 100 pages of detail, but you do at least want to know what you’re working towards, and to know that your key people within the business are aware of this.
(2) You have no idea what your ROI is.
For any form of marketing – be that digital or otherwise – you should know your Return on Investment (ROI) or you’ll never know if it’s working. On paper, this is simple – to work out ROI you just need to know your marketing costs, and how much business you got as a result. Real life isn’t that simple though. Tracking your costs can be complicated – especially if you invest a lot of time in marketing, which can be a big hidden cost. And do you really know how much business has come from your marketing activity? Most businesses I speak to don’t – it’s surprisingly hard to track where enquiries came from in the first place. Tracking the ROI of marketing with 100% accuracy is a pipe dream – in 16 years in Marketing I’ve never seen it happen. However, that doesn’t mean you should give up completely – there are many simple steps you can take to give you greater visibility and at least know when things aren’t working. The more clarity you can get the better, even if you never reach perfection.
(3) You’ve run out of ideas with your Social Media.
Social Media is a big deal – even if you sell to businesses in a niche market, your customers and prospects are likely to use it. It’s important to get yourself set up, claim your usernames and get your accounts going. Many businesses though, then start to struggle for regular content ideas and accounts can start to get out of date and don’t really do anything to generate leads to their site or give people a reason to contact them. Social Media is not a quick win, so once the ideas run dry it gets forgotten about in favour of things that are known to work quickly. This is understandable, but you could be missing out on building a long-term source of new prospects.
(4) You can’t remember when you last updated your website.
Can you remember? Or did you need to look to remind yourself? I recently visited a site where the homepage was promoting an upcoming event……in 2012! I didn’t even bother to contact them, as it left me wondering whether or not the company was even still going. A site that looks good and feels like it has been updated regularly (and if you have a blog or news page, people will know how regularly you update it) is good for your business. It gives a better impression to visitors, and because search engines like sites that are regularly updated, it could even mean that you get more visitors in the first place.
(5) You’ve lost track of all the recent Google algorithm changes.
I work on Search Engine Optimisation daily and I can vouch for how difficult it is to keep up to date with. Tactics that worked fine in the past can now get you penalised by Google. Keeping up to date with all of the changes can be a full-time job, but it’s important not to be left behind when things change. In many businesses, the person responsible for marketing may have several other ‘hats’ to wear throughout the week to fulfil their role. I may be biased, but I think that Search Engine Optimisation has now reached a level of complexity where it needs to be handled by a marketing specialist (with no other responsibilities). That person may be in-house, or it could be an outsourced consultant like myself, but either way you need to be working to a plan and be flexible to changes when they happen.
(6) You’re not generating leads.
For any marketing activity to be successful it should generate either sales, or leads that later turn in to sales. That’s obvious right? Generating leads gets harder than ever though as the digital world gets more crowded. Are you getting found by potential customers online? And are they contacting you or do they leave your website without enquiring? If you’re not getting leads from your website and your online presence you probably need a different approach and some new ideas.
(7) You don’t know where leads come from.
Or maybe you are getting leads but you don’t know which activities are bringing leads in? The great thing about digital marketing is the granular level of feedback you get. Let’s say for example you place an ad on five different external websites at once. You get a decent amount of enquiries overall, but you’re not sure which brought in the enquiries. That’s easily fixed once you know how to set up your tracking and analytics. Once you know what you’re doing, it’s relatively simple to get much greater visibility so you can hold each piece of marketing activity to account. That way you can stop doing the things that don’t work, and do more of the things that work, making your overall efforts much more effective.
It doesn’t need to be difficult….
So, if you’re experiencing any of the above signs, it’s a good time to reconsider how you market your business, to ensure you have a focused, well-planned approach. You may have been lacking clarity on what exactly you do want, so hopefully the above list has given you a clearer idea of what you should be achieving.
Now you can start to think about whether you need to recruit an employee, or find an external consultant. If you need help, contact me and tell me more about your business and I can help you figure out what your marketing activity should look like.