Keys to a Successful Marketing Budget

6a00d83451b74a69e20163037ba3ab970d-piMarketing budgets can feel like a chore without a dedicated marketing team crunching the numbers, but every business needs one to succeed. Why?

Because every dollar spent differentiating your business from your competition can earn you five to ten dollars in revenue.

That’s how valuable having a marketing budget is, yet, most businesses find themselves marketing by the seat of their pants because budgeting is a challenge.

What’s The Challenge?

The time and resources required to develop an effective marketing budget are usually scarce, especially for small to mid-sized businesses. The budgeting process is more than just picking a dollar amount, choosing your marketing channels and then creating marketing pieces. It also has to account for research, personnel and tracking.

Before You Begin

It may be your first instinct, but marketing budgets should not begin with how much you are willing to spend. They begin with establishing who your target audience is and researching who can benefit from your product or service the most. Define what they look like, what they do for fun, where they go for information and what they value.Then ask yourself, “What about my brand will differentiate us from our competitors in the target audience’s eyes?”

With a clearer view of your target audience and vetted differentiators, you may research what marketing channels best communicate your differentiators to your customer. For example, if you’re marketing a professional service to other businesses, you might consider LinkedIn or a robust SEM strategy. If you’re marketing a product to millennials, you might consider Facebook or remarketing.

Set Your Goals

Set expectations and benchmarks to measure your progress, but be realistic. If your target audience is small, can you really achieve $5 million in new sales over the year? Can you truly convert 50% of leads when the industry average is 10%? This is not to say your goals shouldn’t be challenging, but make them achievable for the sake of your employee’s morale, your sanity and your bottom line – this is your opportunity to define what your success looks like.

Just having goals is not enough. You must establish tools and a process for tracking your success and making changes. Facebook provides HTML pixels to help you attribute website conversions to a specific Facebook ad. Landing pages or unique URL’s on your website will help you identify campaign related traffic and leads. Promotion or QR codes will help track the success of promotional offers. The key being, if you can’t measure it, don’t do it.

What’s Your Budget?

Traditionally, your marketing budget should be around 10% of your gross revenue. If you are a newer business with less brand awareness, that number could reach as much as 40%. If you are an established brand, that number may drop as low as 5%. No matter the case, your marketing budget should be built to meet the goals you previously set, and focused on reaching your target audience through the marketing channels you researched.

Luckily for businesses today, the digital age has made marketing much more cost effective. A Facebook ad can reach just as many customers as a newspaper ad for a fraction of the cost. A YouTube video can drive website traffic better than any ad buy for television or radio, and an optimized e-commerce website can move product faster than most high-traffic storefronts.

That being said, digital and social media marketing relies on your understanding of your target audience. If your target audience research is off the mark, your well crafted marketing will fall on deaf ears.

The Bottom Line

Building your marketing budget begins before you budget. Careful planning and thoughtful research will set your marketing up for success, and “(tracking) makes perfect.”

 

Advice Are Marketing Services Right for Your Small Business

465640-email-marketingDo you need extra help from a marketing services organization? Is the technology getting a little overwhelming? Maybe you just can’t keep up with your blogging and social media calendar. If you are the owner of a small business or a franchisee, you work hard every day to provide the best product and service, and for some reason – people are buying from an inferior competitor. What’s the deal? Shouldn’t having a great product be enough?

Here’s the deal. Consumers are overwhelmed with choices and messages about what to buy. Because of this they take shortcuts to decide what to buy and which vendor to trust. But here’s the good news. Once they find a vendor they like, they stick with them.

HOW SERVICES CAN HELP YOUR BUSINESS:

Marketing consultants usually make the distinction between traditional and digital marketing. Traditional marketing encompasses corporate identity, branding, telemarketing, PR and similar ‘real-world’ activities. Digital marketing on the other hand includes website creation and landing pages, virtual social networks presence, online press releases, email marketing, blogging, search engine optimization, paid advertising (on services such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, YouTube, Facebook) and others.

WHAT IF YOU JUST WANT TO RUN SOME CAMPAIGNS?

Marketing Consultants are smart, and they know you have to start with a great product and an in-depth understanding of your market and target audience before running campaigns. You can pay them to help you with marketing research, or you can simply work with a services organization to build and execute campaigns that drive immediate, mid term and long term results. We recommend this direction if you already have a good understanding of your market and the needs of your customer.

Marketing consultants can help you develop campaigns that span across email, mobile, social and online channels, Here are the most fundamental and effective campaigns you should consider running:

1. Email List Growth Campaign

I can’t stress how important this is. Growing you list can be done in lots of ways, including posting a contest with an email signup form on your Facebook page, in your store or on your website.

2. Referral Campaign

The best marketing in the world is word-of-mouth marketing. A simple, refer-a-friend campaign can bring in new business and it also gives you the opportunity to thank you more loyal customers with coupons and other V.I.P. benefits.

3. Loyalty Campaign

Loyalty campaigns can be extremely complex, with multiple tiers and prizes, or they can be very simple. We recommend you start simple before investing in an expensive system that requires integration with your POS systems. A simple way to get started could be the creation of a simple “loyalty card” that gets punched every time someone purchases something at your store. This is easily forged, but if you keep the “freebie” simple and low cost, your exposure will be low. Once you get some traction and have a chance to test different offers, we highly recommend you start to look at digital loyalty campaigns that enable you to track performance and customer interactions.

These are just a few of the campaigns a marketing consultant might recommend. They are good at not only figuring out what to do, but how best to go about it. The best ones will build the campaign from start to finish, and track the results.

The bottom line: Small Businesses can benefit from services groups, but make sure you get your bang for the buck by working with services groups that know your industry and will execute campaigns, not just come up with expensive ideas.

 

The Top 5 Referral Marketing Ideas for New Businesses

download (10)Do you have a brilliant business idea that’s taking off? Are you at a point where you have a product and your customers love everything about it? Have you considered leveraging the power of referral marketing to help even more people discover your product? There are numerous referral marketing ideas that can help you increase your sales.

Consider this – nowadays, a business has to sell more than just a product. You have to sell a full customer experience; An experience that has inspired your customer to share your products with friends and family.

Marketing conditions are continually changing. Unlike a decade ago, businesses these days do not only sell a product or service to customers, but also an experience. They are given a full experience that will inspire them to share the product or service with friends and family – all of whom are potential customers. Word-of-mouth referrals are the most effective way to grow your business, and this is especially true when you are just getting started as a business.

According to Entrepreneur, an ever increasing number of businesses in 2015 and beyond will try to be more open to feedback from their customers. Here are a few referral marketing ideas on how you can make the most out of your customer referrals.

1. IMPROVE YOUR REFERRAL MARKETING STRATEGY

A Nielsen Trust Study from 2013 showed that referrals are the most trusted form of advertising. This information should be good motivation to establish a solid referral strategy, one based on various referral marketing ideas.

Research is the foundation of any marketing strategy. When you want to craft a good referral marketing strategy, the initial research should include the basics, such as understanding customer desires and needs. But we also advise you to conduct research on any potential referral channels, such as news publications, influencers (bloggers and social media influencers), as well as finding all possibilities to produce customer reviews and opinions online.

Once your research is done, use the data to find the right referral marketing ideas, and then craft a successful strategy which includes:

– Exceptional customer service. Give customers or potential buyers a reason to engage, care about and tell others about your brand. Satisfied clients provide great referrals that are invaluable to small businesses

– The 80/20 rule of referral marketing

– Shareable product experiences. A simple Facebook post, Twitter tweet or Instagram selfie can now reach hundreds, if not thousands of potential customers in a few seconds.

– Referral marketing program. Consider including an obvious incentive in your referral marketing program. Customers are more likely to refer friends and family when there is a valuable incentive involved. If the incentives are worthless or undesirable to the company’s existing customer base, the customers won’t be interested enough to participate in the referral program. Make the program more visible by placing signs in stores and using any internet marketing tools that apply.

Influencer. Find a person who is sufficiently influential in your niche. It doesn’t have to be a celebrity; A popular blogger, YouTuber or Instagramer will do the job.

References. Use references as referrals because people consider other people’s opinions before determining whether they should purchase a product or not.

2. FOCUS ON ONLINE REFERRALS

Referral marketing can be highly effective in an online environment due to the popularity of social media and sharing sites. Internet referral marketing can potentially spread information faster and to a wider audience than most offline marketing strategies.

These days, average customer reach is much larger than ever before and for many people with strong social followings, it can be enormous. Customers now have the power to make or break a business by what they say about it online.

According to research carried out by social media experts, 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, whereas only 14% trust advertisements. Perhaps that’s why online communities are so good at generating business referrals.

Dropbox, an online file storage company, implemented a very successful referral program in 2009 asking users to tell their friends about the service. The program offered rewards for both sides in the form of additional free space.

This program came to be very fruitful. Namely, by 2010, 35% of daily sign-ups were the result of a referral, while signups had permanently increased by 60% overall. The company estimated that within a 30-day period (April 2010), their users had sent more than 2.8 million direct referral invitations.

Dropbox debuted as a Y Combinator startup in 2007. It now has 300 million users and more than 500 employees. Follow the trend and take advantage of the variety of social media approaches to increasing your referrals. Brainstorm on various referral marketing ideas and try them out.

3. USE CONTENT AS A REFERRAL TOOL TO FORGE STRONG REFERRAL RELATIONSHIPS

Most often, customers are too busy to leave referrals, even though they are satisfied with the product or service. In situations like this, valuable content can generate referral introductions in ways that are constructive and valuable as opposed to shallow and fruitless.

Valuable content is an effective tool for attracting strategic partnerships as well. While many business owners focus most of their referral efforts on customers, non-competing businesses that serve your target market can be one of the most potent sources of referrals.

4. CONNECT WITH RELATED PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

The old premise “It’s not what you know but who you know” is still very popular in the business world. Even though you may be skilled and dedicated to your new business, your chances of success will rise exponentially when you connect with the right people.

Many companies collaborate with complementary businesses and cross-promote to each other’s customer bases. In order to promote your business, identify a connection that would be interested in setting up a barter program with you, one in which you’ll work for them and refer new clients to their business and vice versa.

Networking is the key to obtaining more customers and earning brand trust. For this reason, view every moment as a potential networking opportunity and watch your business grow.

5. SEEK CREATIVITY IN REFERRAL MARKETING IDEAS

Having a variety of electronic devices available to you and your customers, you have infinite possibilities of creating inspirational referral marketing ideas. If your client is willing, try to capture a testimonial on video. This can be a really powerful asset. Offer them an incentive to motivate them to make a creative referral.

Another idea you can try is thinking of a witty way to ask for referrals. There is an interesting example of a computer repair company using stamps reading “We Crave Referrals” on every paper that customers receive – including newsletters, marketing material, and invoices.

Remember, the best referrals are the ones you don’t even have to ask for. Thus, provide your customers with an exceptional experience that will make them eager to share it with others. Try various referral marketing ideas and see how they work for your business.

Torchlite is evolving the way businesses go to market. By seamlessly connecting digital marketing experts and business owners through our application, we make building effective digital marketing campaigns easy – driving leads, online traffic, customers and revenue. Let’s get ignited.

Different Ways Of Promoting Something

blog_promotingPeople are talking about the new forms of marketing today. It is no doubt that traditional marketing has been around for quite a very long time already. In fact, some are still being used by business owners today. However, with the Internet becoming popular and having a big role on how successful a business is, more and more entrepreneurs are now looking for ways on how they can market their offerings efficiently.

Indeed, there are already many different ways for promoting something.

Types Of Marketing

Internet – This refers to any strategy taking place online. It has a variety of forms such as search engine, video advertisements, and e-mail. It certainly needs a great approach in areas of design, development, and promotion.

Offline – This includes all the marketing efforts that are not done on the online world. Local advertising in newspapers and on radio or television are some of its forms. Today, more and more companies are searching for ways on how they can leverage their offline marketing campaigns with the online one so they can complement each other.

Outbound – This is also known as traditional. This includes any marketing efforts that are taken in order to introduce products or services to someone who is not looking for such product or service. Some examples are sending newsletters, cold calling, banner ads, and billboards.

Inbound – This focuses on having your business found by customers. In other words, the customers reach out to you, not the other way around. The most important thing to bear in mind is that a person determines the product or service he wants and then goes out to find it.

Article – Businesses today are writing articles related to the industry they are in and distribute them offline and online. These copies will educate people about a certain topic and provide the company that wrote it with more credibility in the market. Business contact information can be included in the article so interested individuals can easily contact them.

Trade Show – This is a form of event marketing that allows firms to demonstrate their offerings as well as to examine what’s going on in the industry.

Referral – This relies on the customers of the company. This is also known as word of mouth marketing, which is considered a more spontaneous way of getting new business. Entrepreneurs can’t solely rely on this strategy since results are not very predictable.

Viral – This relies on the marketer’s message being spread quickly on different social networks to boost brand awareness.

Telemarketing – This focuses on reaching consumers through phone. This is also known as cold call marketing. Remember though that this becomes efficient only when the right person is reached on the phone at the right time.