This is part one of our series "The Business Owner’s Guide to Marketing for Results."

Business owners have mixed feelings about marketing their businesses. Some are completely averse to anything that seems “sales-y” and others are constantly looking for the next trend to reach the most people.

No matter where you fall on that spectrum, most can agree that whichever marketing tactics you choose to employ in your business, the success or failure of them comes down to one key principle: Return on investment.

Whether that investment is time or money (or both), it’s important for business owners seeking to build a brand with social capital to approach their marketing strategically, rather than throwing tactic after tactic at their audience and seeing what sticks.

Does the text below resonate with you?

You know you should be doing some marketing because your competition is marketing (and marketing well, it seems). Yet spending money on marketing is hard to do, because in the past maybe you’ve felt like you're putting money in a black hole because you don’t have a clue what you really got out of those past marketing efforts.

So how can business owners create a strong marketing strategy that allows them to see results while cutting down on the cycle of trial and error? In this series, we’ll explore how to market for results starting with your marketing strategy and metrics.

Target Audience

Step 1: Set Your Goals

When setting out to create a marketing strategy for your business, the first thing you want to do is begin with the end in mind. What does that mean? That means, look at what action you want your audience to take to move them across the path toward becoming a customer. Then, build your strategy around that action and your overarching business goal.

Your CTAs (Calls to Action) should align with your overarching marketing and business goals. Think of your CTA as the micro-conversion and hitting your goals for your overarching marketing strategy as a macro-conversion.

For example, your CTA might be to get people to book calls with your agents each month. Your marketing strategy might be to use Facebook ads to drive traffic to your specific scheduler so that you can book a minimum of 25 calls each month. Your CTAs support your marketing goals.

When it comes to goals, you specifically want to keep up with metrics relating to:

  • Conversion rate
  • Customer acquisition costs
  • Number of qualified leads

To keep from feeling like you’re throwing your marketing dollars into a black hole, you want to key in on conversion rate.

What Does Conversion Rate Mean?

Your conversion rate is a percentage that relates to the number of impressions your specific marketing activity gets when compared to the number of people who take the desired action. So for example, say 1,000 people receive your direct mail postcard, and 100 people take the desired action of calling to schedule an appointment. That’s a 10% conversion rate.

Keeping track of your customer acquisition costs will help you feel more in control of your marketing spend.

What are Customer Acquisition Costs?

Your Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) tells you how much it costs to get a customer. Here’s how you calculate your customer acquisition costs: Add up your marketing expenses and divide this number by the number of new customers you acquire in a given time period. For example, say you spend $5,000 on marketing in a given quarter, and you gain 5 new customers. Your customer acquisition cost is $1,000.

People get caught up with tracking their cost per lead (especially when it comes to ad spend). However, we believe you should look a bit more deeply at this metric. Your cost per qualified lead is just as important, if not more important than your cost per lead.

Why is Focusing on the Number of Qualified Leads Important?

If you run a campaign that gets you a ton of leads, but none of them converted to sales (or had the ability to convert to sales), then truly how effective was the campaign? When setting up your marketing campaign objectives, be sure to regularly analyze how many leads are qualified and who convert.

For more guidance about setting specific annual marketing goals, check out our article on how to create an annual marketing plan.

many social media platforms

Step 2: Pick your channels

There’s a common misconception that in order to market effectively, you have to be present on as many channels as possible. Nothing could be further from the truth! When answering the question, “What channels should I market on?” The answer is, “Be present on the channels your audience engages on and on as many places as are manageable and on-brand for your business.”

Be present on the channels your audience engages on and on as many places as are manageable and on-brand for your business

You have a vast number of choices to market your business, and which ones you choose will vary based on if you’re in B2B, B2C, and your customer profile. Here are some channels you can use to market your business.

  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Blogging
  • Email marketing
  • Podcasting
  • Print advertising
  • Direct mail

When it comes to crafting a marketing strategy that gets you results, you want to focus on what’s the anticipated return on investment (ROI) of your activity on those channels. Just because your audience is on Snapchat, for example, doesn’t mean that it’s on-brand or necessary for you to market yourself in those places -- especially if your audience isn’t used to being marketed to on those channels.

When building your strategy and picking your marketing channels, start with a core platform and build out your channels from there. For example, if it makes the most sense for your business to be active primarily on Facebook, then invest your time and resources on Facebook. If Instagram drives sales, then focus on Instagram.

Think through which platforms will offer the most direct results (i.e., sales) and then build your marketing strategy upon those successful channels. The same goes for when evaluating paid or organic traffic online, or whether to invest in in-person meet-ups, trade shows, or direct mail pieces. Evaluate how well you can quantify success with those marketing efforts and then decide when (or if) to add more platforms to your marketing mix.

One other tip—don't neglect traditional marketing channels such as direct mail. Digital marketing gets a lot of buzz, but not all marketing is digital.

Step 3: Determine Your Finish Time

When setting your marketing strategy, it’s vital that you determine your checkpoints and endpoints for your marketing campaigns. Giving yourself a finish line in your marketing will allow you to time-restrict your goals (which will allow you to better track and allocate your marketing data).

Setting a finish line allows you a time-frame within which to try new tactics and test the effectiveness of those tactics. For instance, say you want to try a new marketing campaign for 20% off an order. This offer would be less appealing if it were available all year-round. However, by adding a time limit—by adding scarcity —you encourage potential buyers to act more quickly.

Putting It All Together

Here’s an example of what your goal, channel, and timeline might look like when you put them together:

Say you want to get 10 new consulting clients via LinkedIn this quarter. So your timeline is 3 months long. In that timeline, you might build out a strategy that includes requesting 300 new connection requests that quarter, which breaks out to 100 per month) and getting on a minimum of 10 fitting calls from those connection requests. Setting your timeline allows you to have a clearer sense of how to approach your goal strategically (which sets you up for success).

Giving yourself a marketing timeline allows you to see what works and what doesn’t so you can pivot more quickly. Like we define in our article What Is Marketing, marketing is the specific tactics, platforms, and strategies that you choose to employ to talk about your products and services. And when composing the mix of tactics, platforms, and strategies that will propel you to promote your products or services, it’s important that you give your business freedom to try new things and see what works.

The key here is to be discerning with your strategies and be agile enough to change course quickly if a tactic doesn’t work, and to know when to invest more time or resources into a winning strategy.

That’s it for part one of marketing for results. Keep an eye out for the next installment of the series. If you’re in need of help creating a branding and marketing plan that helps you identify and attract your ideal customers, contact Harvest Media today to find out more information.