Good Questions, Run of the Mill Answers

We just finished reading another White Paper from Advertising Age’s Insights collection, What Small and Mid-Sized Businesses Need to Know About Marketing: Your Questions Answered. The Editor selected 5 questions he or she believes that small and mid-sized businesses need to answer regarding their marketing investments, and puts that question to the owners, presidents and CEOs of several marketing firms. The article is from 2010, but we think quite a bit of it is still relevant, and will continue to be. A lot of it is also fairly mundane, with some of the marketing pros making pretty run of the mill observations. We’ve tried to sort the wheat from the chaff and highlight just a few points from each section.

The main overall points in our opinion:

  • Measure everything you can
  • Measuring is hard
  • Social media is not really that radically different from traditional marketing in a lot of important ways
  • Be willing to adopt and be flexible as conditions change

Section 1: Measuring marketing ROI

Clients have more data than ever before, which is awesome, but less time and fewer resources available to process and act on it. Metrics are important in general, but you have to keep a handle on what you’re measuring and why, especially when it comes to the value of Social Media. How do you measure the lifetime value of a Facebook fan as opposed to a traditional transactional client? Social Media allows us to measure attitudes. But you have to get a firm grasp on your goals to leverage this knowledge effectively.

Section 2: How should we leverage social media?

Social media marketing demands the same level of commitment and strategy as traditional marketing does. The basic question in social media marketing is pretty much exactly the same question you should be asking yourself for any branding or marketing effort: how can you make your business more relevant to your customers and prospects? The mobile Web will be increasingly important. Develop a strategy. Listen first.The disruptive power of social media is the ability to know what your clients truly think about your brand, your products, and your industry. Listen to them to guide your thinking.

Section 3: What agency compensation alternatives are available?

Results-based compensation is difficult to implement. Basing compensation on results always sounds awesome to everyone, but it always turns out to be more complicated than it seems, because you have to agree upon what your measuring and why, and what those measurements mean.

Section 4: How much should we be spending on marketing and where?

It seems obvious, but many businesses forget to treat this as an operations decision. And as with all business decisions, these choices need to be weighed against your overall objectives. Find the bottlenecks and spend against those specific problems. Don’t waste time and dollars where you don’t need to just because it seems like “the thing to do.” Make low-cost investments first to build a solid foundation before dropping big dollars. Diversify, as you would with any other major investment. Divert some of your advertising budget to Public Relations. You can reap a big return for a relatively small investment. Again, be specific and disciplined about setting your goals and what metrics you need to track in order to reach them.

Section 5: What kind of skills and talent do we need to achieve our marketing goals?

Make sure your senior decision makers are setting the direction of your marketing strategy from early on. This will help establish a sense of order, trust, and buy-in throughout your organization. Nimbleness and agility are key skills in today’s rapidly changing, almost chaotic marketing landscape. Experience in your industry not as important as you think. This is a point that we discuss around Phases quite a bit, as we’re a general, hybrid (print and digital) agency. Bringing in an outside perspective can give a marketing or branding program the shot in the arm it really needs to truly differentiate a client in crowded industries. Give us a call or contact us here for help answering your small business marketing questions.

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