Optimizing online marketing tools for your business
Cutting marketing expenses when business is slow is about as logical as taking the batteries out of your clock to gain an extra hour. Or, as Henry Ford famously said, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.” That puts the importance of effective marketing into perspective.
Ineffective Use of Tools
Technology and the global community of the 21st century have given us a few shortcuts when it comes to marketing. These shortcuts are supposed to make marketing easier and more cost-effective. Some of these resources are good, some are not-so-good. Most are virtual or web-based providers of marketing programs.
Often we acquire new clients whose philosophy has been to advertise and market because they feel they are supposed to. They had been picking fairly ineffective marketing vehicles because they were cheap, and somewhere in those clients’ mind, they were able to check an internal box that said, “Did you advertise this month?”
Sadly, this is the kind of advertising and marketing that goes out the door when business is slow—it was not really effective anyway. It also puts a bad taste in the mouth of the marketer, leading him or her to say things like, “Marketing doesn’t really work for us.” The most expensive marketing campaign is the one that does not work. It really does not matter if it was low-cost.
Weighing the Options
You may be familiar with the marketing campaign for one of the largest email marketing providers. One of its TV ads boldly proclaims a deli owner knows meats and cheeses and is a marketer because he gets the word out to his client base with sales information and offers via email. The tagline shouts, “He’s a marketer!” Fantastic. Looks great on a TV commercial.
Now for the reality check. Most of our new clients come to us for the same reason, with the same explanation. First they say, “I don’t have time to do this. It just gets away from me.” Next they say, “And I don’t know what I’m doing.” Simply having the tools does not mean you have the time to use them or become familiar with all of the ever-changing resources available to you.
The tools are great, but an experienced professional can help guide you and keep you on track. For example, when we have a search engine marketing issue, we have representatives at Google to whom we reach out. Google’s webmaster tools are great, but sometimes we need a live person to take a look at what we are doing and how we are doing it. It is OK to use the help of experts.
Another well-known online marketing platform promises great-looking business cards and stationary at a low cost. With them, according to its advertisements, a business will look good and feel like someone on Madison Avenue has its back. Use them, and customers will line up Monday morning to purchase goods or services from you and it will change your world. Fantastic. Looks great on a TV commercial.
Now for the reality check. Who do you hand that business card to? Who are you sending letters to on your new stationary? Who knows you have a new logo? None of that is going to be achieved by saving money on a business card.
That same service offers marketing. Here is a postcard and an inexpensive website. Now you’re rolling! You have it all. Here is the problem. You are not a list broker. How do you target that specific audience that wants your goods and services? Are you getting postage discounts and delivery efficiency? You are not a webmaster. Are you developing your web pages to compete in search engine rankings? Does your website comply with the latest Google and Bing algorithms? You are a marketer, but you are not an expert. You are an expert in your field.
Consult an Expert
I am not trying to talk you out of using the technology available to you to grow your business and increase awareness and sales. I am not suggesting you double, triple or quadruple your marketing spend. I am encouraging you to use technology wisely, but use it with a partner who understands your industry. An online marketing partner is a valuable resource, but be sure there is a live person who understands both your industry and his or her product as it will best suit your needs.
I am encouraging you to weigh your return on investment against your marketing spend. Find out where your breakeven is. Use a partner who not only will help you figure that out, but advise you on the proper mix of online and traditional marketing tools to achieve that goal.
Business slowdown usually means you should increase your efforts to get new business. Of course, I am familiar with seasonality, and that is part of your judgement. But consider this analogy: When your refrigerator is empty, you go to the grocery store. You may be more selective about what food you buy when times are tight, but you need food to survive, and so does your business.
Use the marketing tools you have at your disposal, but use them regularly and wisely. Seek assistance from experienced professionals, the same way your customers seek your experience and knowledge.