When we were growing up, my parents made sure we ate dinner together as a family at least a few nights a week. It never failed that my sister filled her plate with bread or macaroni and cheese. At some point she developed a rationale. She said the “bread compartment” of her stomach was much bigger than the vegetable or meat compartments. It took several years (and some time working overseas) to expand her palate, but she’s now a pretty adventurous eater. She learned what she was missing by not adding more variety to her meals.
The same could be said for a company’s approach to marketing. It’s easy to get comfortable buying the same media, sponsoring the same events or pitching the same stories. But what are you missing? Here are some tips for integrating your approach.
- Hire a good partner.
Especially if you’re not in the marketing business, it’s important to have a trustworthy partner who knows marketing and who knows your brand. This may be an employee, but it may also be an agency partner. This person (or team) should be able to identify opportunities, evaluate success and – perhaps most importantly – be willing to make changes as needed.
- Don’t be afraid to spend (or not to spend).
How much you spend – on advertising, on sponsorships, on social media – will depend on what type of business you’re running and the type of customer you are trying to attract. Not all businesses need to spend thousands of dollars per week on TV commercials. This is where it pays to have a trustworthy partner who can make a solid recommendation. In general, I recommend strategic spending. There’s no reason for a business targeting college-aged males to spend thousands in ads on Nickelodeon. Don’t refuse to spend money, but do be smart about it.
- Don’t be afraid to fail.
While you wouldn’t want to dedicate half of your annual marketing budget to an unsuccessful effort, you shouldn’t be afraid to try something you’re unsure of. Many times, there are options to see how it works before you commit significant resources to it. For example, if you’re unsure of whether an e-newsletter is going to work for you, consider a platform like MailChimp, which is free for the first 2,000 email contacts. You can see how it goes before you pay to add your entire database to the platform.
- Get outside opinions.
This is especially true if your marketing partner is internal. An outside agency – one that knows your brand but operates independently – can be a valuable asset in evaluating your efforts. Your business may have sponsored the same golf tournament for the last 10 years simply because your friend was once the board chair. But what if it isn’t working the way it used to, or what if your efforts to maximize it have simply gone stale? A quality outside opinion can help right the ship on some efforts.
- Re-evaluate regularly.
As you go through the year, never underestimate the value of a solid strategy session. Leave nothing off the table. Evaluate every spend, every pitch, every success of the past year and decide what’s working. What isn’t working? This is the surest way to maintain a fresh marketing strategy, protect your marketing budget and ensure that your efforts are successful year after year.