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It’s another one of those debates that never seems to be resolved. Is marketing and advertising an investment or an expense? The accountants will tell you that it is most certainly an expense, but if spent skillfully and efficiently, it is an expense that can produce added revenue, increase market share, and build valuable brand identity. The cost of not participating in marketing activities can only be accurately measured by our ability to quantify a negative return, which most would argue to be impossible. According to Steven Jaenke, founder and CEO of Digimark Australia, “Without marketing, you’re reliant on hard selling. You’re approaching people that aren’t ready, don’t know who you are and may not even know they have a problem. Marketing helps people discover the small business, identify the problem that they have and the solution that the business provides as being the solution for them, and don’t feel pressured but instead relieved.”
Small businesses that cannot afford high cost, large spray advertising tactics are more vulnerable to failing to initiate effective advertising programs. Operations with modest revenues have difficulty justifying the costs of expensive and sometimes risky advertising campaigns that utilize large spray placement tactics. Although the arrival of digital marketing has leveled the playing field for small businesses. An emerging digital revolution is providing an opportunity for marketers to reach infinite numbers of potential customers more easily, quickly, and economically than ever before. Small businesses are finding advertising success by spending less and getting more out of digital marketing. Online marketing channels such as social media platforms, online content marketing, automated or manual emails, or digital advertising with pay-per-click ads can generate large numbers of contact points for minimal cost if done correctly. So how much should a typical small business spend on marketing and advertising?
The specific amount of advertising spend can fluctuate significantly depending on the business type and sector, but the U.S. Small Business Administration marketing spend recommendation for profitable businesses making less than $5 million in sales annually is between 5% and 8% of revenue. The exact amount will depend on the industry type, business location, and the company’s specific goals and objectives. Begin developing a marketing strategy by identifying who you are and what solutions you want to provide. Define your brand and focus on a specific target audience. Decide the best marketing channels to connect with potential customers by utilizing original, conversational, and authentic content to promote brand awareness. Alison Ver Halen, owner of AV Writing Services, says, “Content marketing, social media marketing and networking are all important, but beware that there are a lot of options out there for those three things, so don’t skip the first step where you identify your target audience and where they hang out so you can be sure your marketing efforts are getting you in front of the right people.”
To establish a firm foundation in brand identity, it is essential to create a website that is consistent with your brand and persona. A well-developed and consistently maintained website is a valuable channel to potential customers. All too often, a website isn’t optimized to bring in traffic and reach new customers. As competition increases and digital channels become ever more crowded, solely being on the internet with a website is not enough to get noticed, drive discovery, connect with loyal followers, and build a trusted brand. In the past, there has been a focus on off-page search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to boost a website’s search engine rankings and build organic traffic. In today’s crowded internet, off-page practices are not valuable without on-page SEO fundamentals. The focus should be on making a website more usable and valuable to users and improving website ranking or visibility in search results on multiple search engines. When was the last time you surfed your website?
Measure the effectiveness of the marketing plan and adjust the strategy on an ongoing basis to make necessary adjustments across all platforms. Comprehensive management will take time but the rewards of a successful process can be considerable and very cost effective for a small business. If you do not have the time or experienced staff to dedicate to the process, it can be beneficial in time and quality to form a working relationship with an outside social media specialist.
To learn more about how Junction Creative Solutions’ team of professionals and partners can help you create an impactful marketing and advertising strategy to advance your brand, call 678.686.1125 today.