Questions you should think about before starting a marketing program:

On a Limited Budget You Must Prioritize.

Marketing today offers entrepreneurs an amazing spectrum of attractive tools. But can they be all tested within limited resources?

Answer: Only pursue the ones that align most closely with your strategic marketing plan. If you don’t have a plan, you will blow a lot of valuable cash on awesome ideas that promise much and deliver little — not because they are bad ideas, but because they are bad ideas for your company.

These are three rules to evaluate your marketing options.

Build on Your Existing Base

You should aim your marketing first of all at your typical customer. If that sounds obvious to you, plenty of small businesses run aground seeking any customers they can find while never establishing a reputation with one loyal group. Targeting is the difference between marketing as expense and marketing as investment.

This strategy applies also when marketing to other businesses. For example, do you define decision makers versus order-takers within each target company? Both are useful to cultivate, but they require different approaches if you want to get the highest return on each marketing dollar.

Do Not Over-reach and Stick to What You Can Manage

It is not necessary to embrace all the latest marketing fads. While the internet offers powerful marketing tools, they are such only in the measure in which you use them properly.

Let’s take blogging, for example. Blogs are cheap to set up, but they take huge effort to update on a consistent basis. If you manage your blog poorly, you will disappoint your customers. If you are in the business of offering advice (say, on insurance, financial planning or accounting), a blog makes sense and could be your main marketing tool. 

Social networks are another increasingly popular tool. But these, too, require a fair amount of administration. Would those hours and dollars actually boost awareness and, ultimately, revenues? For many small companies, the answer is no.

In making these calculations, remember that you also have to allot enough resources to spruce up your outgoing electronic communication. All prospects expect to interact with sellers and advisers online these days.

Whatever Marketing Gurus are Selling, Buyers Beware

There are innumerable marketing agencies out there that make all kinds of claims. Ask to see case studies of what they have accomplished for other clients like you. Concentrate on what you need, not what they are selling.

A good plan must be action driven, with goals and strategies that will lead to specific outcomes in specific time frames. The strategies will dictate the solution i.e. the tactics you use.