How to avoid burning through marketing dollars

I’m a small business owner. I get it. Money is tight, and everything comes down to the ROI. With each penny spent, you’re faced with questions like “Can it save me money?” “Can it save me time?” “Will it bring me more business?” And when everyone seems to be coming at you with the next big marketing idea, “How do I know this won’t be the equivalent of setting my money on fire?”

Unfortunately, the last question is probably the toughest to answer, and small businesses often end up being the most vulnerable. Next time you get that sales call for a new marketing tool, stop and ask yourself these questions before pulling the trigger.

What’s my business goal?
Maybe it’s awareness of a cause, an increase in sales or fulfillment of an exit strategy. Whatever your goal, your marketing strategy and tactics better support it. We don’t craft custom marketing plans for fun. (Well, we do, but that’s not the only reason.) When done right, marketing, public relations and advertising should all help reach your goals in a real and measurable way.

Can I afford it?
Marketing is an investment, but you’ll never see the results you’re hoping for if you aren’t able to commit to a reasonable amount of time. On the flip side, your public relations professional, marketing expert or media representative should recommend tools that will move the needle within your budget.

Does this give me the most bang for my buck?
It’s our responsibility as your advisers to find the best use of your marketing budget. MARKETING IS NOT IS NOT A ONE-SHOT FIX. I’ve run campaigns where buying billboards is a huge component to the client’s success in reaching their goals. But I’ve also worked with companies where that strategy would never work. Maybe the cost of what someone is selling you is $1,000. Do you know what I can do with a $1,000 for your business? A lot. As in, we have a lot more options than just this one thing someone is trying to sell you.

How much can I trust the person recommending this to me?
Get referrals. Interview your sales person, even if you’ve known them personally for years. This is a business decision, and you have to view it through that lens. These are your hard earned dollars, and they need to work for you – not the pocket book of a sales person. Trust is everything in a good business relationship, and if you’ve been burned, you know it’s hard to come by. Does this company or person truly have your best interest at heart? If you’ve done your homework and still can’t answer that question, move on.

In the end, marketing and public relations are a bit of a risk, particularly if this is a new endeavor for you. But finding someone you trust to recommend strategies that move the needle for your business within a budget that makes sense are key to achieving that ROI – and keeping the flames off your cash.