I like to think that if there is a marketing tool or tactic that can be implemented with measurable results for better interaction and lead conversion, then I will likely explore it. I have indicated in the past that I appreciate the "wide-open cookie jar of marketing possibilities" as a benefit of working for a small business. Admittedly, with the copious number of tools available, I do get pretty excited about quite a few things.
As a result, I periodically evaluate existing marketing tools and potential tactics against my overall marketing strategy to make sure that I’m not sacrificing effectiveness by not spending as much time with each that I should.
The large quantity of marketing tactics I have chosen to employ usually means that I just work more, much to the chagrin of the boss, and for which I receive regular chastising. But if I take the time to successfully implement a new tool, or do something like completely restructure our adwords program complete with vertical-specific, keyword silo-ed, tiered campaigns with multi-variate landing pages for each, and the results are very positive, I want to continue utilizing such plans.
The problem as a one-man marketer for a small software shop, is that I found myself spread pretty thin in the attempt to maximize effectiveness of so many tools and ideas.
This, along with my decision before the first of the year to migrate to a new marketing automation platform as well as a new CRM whilst preparing for a new product launch, led the boss to ask me a very pointed question, “Do you need some help?”
My Initial reaction was, “Certainly not, I should definitely be able to handle effective marketing for a software shop our size.” But the more I thought about it, I realized that I really only had two options - Cut back on the number of individual endeavors so I wouldn’t be working as much, or hire an assistant.
Stubborn pride was never an issue, I always focus on what is most beneficial for the company. But I tend to be the driven sort, and had already invested so much time establishing successful campaigns, and had so many things I still wanted to dive into, that justifying the extra cost for additional sales was kind of a no-brainer.
I think it is important to understand that there definitely can be too much marketing, the key is how you most effectively manage your time to maximize the success of each tool you use.
I’m very grateful that right about the time I should have reined myself in, not only was the boss already on top of it, but the company was in a position to bring on an extra employee.
Bonus is that we just need to find a replacement for my new marketing assistant, Tish, who is moving over from our sales department. Turns out she has an MBA in Marketing – who knew?
Based on the title, you might be preparing yourself for a rant. Fear not, this is a (semi) professionally-minded small business blog, so you shan’t be forced to read an emotionally charged vociferation.
But I will provide my observations on the subject and ask the question in print that so many of us think regularly – Do companies still actually fall for people selling themselves as a social media [insert something silly here]?
My observation of the rise in popularity and importance of social media is that, in very real ways, it has changed the way conversations are happening with customers. Not so long ago, brands were able to largely dictate sentiment with one-way communication to their customers. Now customers not only have an immediate response vehicle in the form of social media, but when en masse, have the opportunity to dictate communication to the brand. Cases in point - the latest reversals in planned policy from Netflix, Verizon, and Bank of America.
But this new change in conversation dynamic is only the latest development in constantly evolving customer relations. As such, companies should be aware of how best to communicate with their customer base across ALL MEDIA to ensure satisfaction. The best conversations still involve the right content to the right people at the right time.
What this change in conversation dynamic does not require however, is a social media “wizard” to set up your Google+, Twitter and Facebook accounts for you. As you well know, all social media platforms are not equal and social media is most certainly not for every company. But you won’t hear that from social media services peddlers. They will insist that a Facebook page will be great for gaining customers to your International Aeronautical LED engineering company. And for your custom cabinetry business? Why you will be sure to find a vibrant community of antique Brazilian Tulipwood veneer and dowel rod clients on Twitter.
My observation is that just like any one of the thousands of tactics in your customer relations and marketing strategy, social media should be evaluated for potential benefit for your organization, and if viable, should be carefully incorporated into your overall plan. Large companies with substantial marketing teams will very likely have one or more people dedicated solely to monitoring and contributing to the customer interaction across many social media channels. Many small businesses may not have any need for social media, or do not have the time to effectively engage their customers, nor the money to pay someone to do it for them.
Either way, customer interaction continues to evolve and it is up to the individual organization to determine how and where they will best communicate with their customers. If Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn make an effective communication tool, then they can certainly be utilized and can facilitate terrific engagement.
But do you really need a self-proclaimed "guru" who knows nothing of your business to tell you how to talk to your customers?
As I mentioned in THIS POST, I find it very important to highlight from my yearly goals, the top ten things that I really want to accomplish. These are the big ones, the items that might require a little education, a little extra research, a little extra money, and maybe a lot of extra time, but are key to the success of that particular year’s marketing strategy. Sometimes they correspond with what I think are new or valuable trends in marketing (last year’s completed mobile site goal), but they are always items that will be crucial for our success in the coming year.
Here are my Top Ten Marketing Goals for 2012 – (in no particular order)
We have been holding steady between 11 and 12k for the last quarter of 2011, and after completely revamping Paid search program and a full SEO audit, are continuing to generate relevant content to attract more visitors.
Our Universal Imaging Utility trial conversion rate is pretty solid, now I just need to get more of the right info to the right prospects at the right time for increased trial activation.
Our Big Bang Blog (the one you are reading) has done extremely well in the first few months so I really want to get a solid blog schedule for our two software offerings. Product updates, relevant industry news, upcoming development ideas, etc.
Last year I really tightened down my social media tactics and developed a clear plan. Now, as our customer base and brand awareness continues to grow, I want to make sure the rest of the building is on the same page and utilizing SM appropriately.
If I can justify the expense with increased revenue, I really want to fire up a re-targeting campaign this year.
The web-based knowledge base from SF is pretty robust and I think will help us take better care of our customers more efficiently.
Well-written wiki can’t hurt. Just haven’t had the time.
Our new SCCM plug-in, the UIUSD, will be perfect for a well-laid webinar schedule for lead capture.
Now that we have moved to Pardot and SF, I am, for the first time, able to be Super-OCD on ROI for absolutely everything. And I now have a marketing underling to help with reporting and metrics.
Speaking of Marketing assistant, as I get her trained up and involved, I already told her that I want to focus on her strengths and interests and have her “own” at least three major aspects of of our overall marketing strategy.
Those are my Top Ten Marketing Goals for 2012, what are yours?
I kept pushing this post topic down the list for fear the dry, boring subject matter wouldn’t be at all attractive to readers. Who really wants to talk about budgets anyway? Budgets are just that large, looming necessity that sneaks up once a year and sucks away your time and part of your soul while you guess at what you are going to spend next year, right?
Not so much. Especially for a small business.
A well-planned, accurate marketing budget can have a huge impact on a small business for a couple of reasons.
Financial Impact –
This is the obvious one, but typically small businesses don’t have a great deal of surplus cash to spend willy-nilly on marketing efforts. So it is important to determine which marketing tactics best enhance your overall strategy and how much they will cost. Also, cash flow can fluctuate greatly during the course of a year, and it is crucial to anticipate expenses and plan available cash well in advance. Finally, a small business needs to decide what percentage of their revenue will be allocated for marketing. This is critical for a small business as they grow to accurately measure and understand the effects of marketing expense on total revenue.
One of the biggest benefits of establishing a clear marketing budget for me is the ability to concretely set strategy implementation points on a yearly basis. While certain aspects of my overall marketing strategy are “high-level” ideas (better define ideal customer, increase quality of interaction, etc.), pin-pointing the specific tactics and their corresponding cost during the year really help me to plot a clear plan for successful implementation. I find that if I approach a particular quarter with a clear plan in mind, the ability to successfully initiate those plans and measure their effectiveness greatly increases. It makes sense to me to have thought about what comes next rather than sit at my desk one day and randomly think, “well that looks like fun, why don’t we try that!”
Happy Office Admin-
If you want a sure way to make the invaluable individual who handles all your accounts payable want to wring your neck, don’t prepare an accurate marketing budget. That way you can drop random invoices for trade shows, ad spots, direct mails, etc. right on his/her desk and make her try to figure out how to pay for them all. OR you can strategically plan out how much you are going to spend over the course of the year, and either ensure you aren’t hit with any huge expenses all at once, or run your budget past them so they can plan appropriately. Otherwise you may find yourself looking foolish to your vendors when your Admin makes you cancel an order.
Planning a marketing budget doesn’t have to be a pain, especially when the benefits will certainly make up for the time you put into it.
What other benefits of planning a marketing budget are there for a small business?
About Big Bang Blog
There are many reasons to write a small business blog, we wanted to bring you at least a few reasons to read one. The Big Bang Blog covers the ins and outs of running a small software business, as well as a variety of small business marketing and media topics. Please leave us your comments and questions.
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|About Adam Murphy -
Adam is the President and Owner of Big Bang LLC and espouses a pretty progressive small business philosophy based primarily around hiring the right people and getting the hell out of their way.
|About Nate Bauer -
Nate is the Marketing Director for Big Bang LLC and pretty much spends his days tip-toeing on the pinnacle of how to most effectively implement strategy given the wide open cookie jar of small business marketing possibilities.
|About Kelley Burian - @kelleyburian
Kelley is the Sales Director for Big Bang LLC. Responsible for everything from GSA contracts, resellers and international customers, she has her hands full doing whatever she can to make sure our valued clients are thrilled with our fantastic products.