When deciding how to create and spend your marketing budget, it makes sense to take a step back and evaluate your current business, your goals and customers. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you look back on your previous year in business:
How did your business perform overall last year?
- Did we attract new customers? If so, from where?
- Did we retain or sell to existing customers? If so, what percentage?
- Did a majority of our sales come from a particular product or service?
- Could I categorize our customers by demographics (male/female, income level, location, etc.)?
- Were any of our partnerships particularly effective?
- Did we launch any marketing campaigns and how many customers or new leads resulted?
- What campaigns or marketing dollars spent were less effective?
- How well did our competitors perform this year in comparison?
While many businesses don’t have time to develop a formal marketing strategy each calendar year, if they take the time to analyze the previous year, they may note trends to indicate where to focus new marketing efforts.
For example, if you noted that you found many new customers from a certain geographic area, you might want to look into advertising in that market. If you discovered new website leads from your blog and/or your social media pages, you may want to increase your time or budget in social media marketing or content marketing. If your competitors attended a major trade show and benefited from increased market share, you may want to consider exhibiting this year. Alternatively, if you notice that certain marketing expenditures aren’t giving you the results you want (think yellow pages), you may want to re-direct those dollars into something different this year (such as trade advertising, SEO or email marketing).
While looking at the past can help you figure out how to market your business in the future, it won’t be a true indicator of success. You still need to consider your target audience and the appropriate media vehicles and messaging to use to get the market share you want. You should also consider new opportunities for advertising your business, as well as entering new markets if it makes sense.
Marketing success comes from properly balancing your goals, messaging and media with your budget, and then having a good sales process to funnel the lead and eventually close the sale. But first, take a bird’s eye view of your business and make the necessary tweaks to build your new budget and (hopefully more successful) marketing strategy.