ROI – Why results should be the starting and finishing line of any marketing plan

Marketing can be an expensive business regardless of whether your target audience is niche or mass market.
Getting the right message to the right people at the right rime 1) to ensure …

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14th March 2007 at 6:52 pm

Marketing can be an expensive business regardless of whether your target audience is niche or mass market.

Getting the right message to the right people at the right rime 1) to ensure they’re aware of you and 2) ultimately getting them to part with their hard earned cash, can eat a substantial chunk of your own hard earned profits.

So faced with a multitude of tactical options, what should you spend, how should you spend it and who with? Marketing isn’t a sprint – rush headlong at your activities and you’ll probably be able to repent at leisure. A planned approach is much better if it’s tangible results you’re after.

First job (if you’re confident that your product is credible and you know there’s a market out there) is to figure out exactly what you want your marketing activities to deliver. This is your starting line – and this is why I’m such a strong advocate of taking time out to formalise a business plan on paper.

If you have crystal clear goals for your business, you’re already giant strides ahead. To translate your business goals into marketing goals, you must express them in terms of your customers – how many do you need, what do you want them to spend and by when? It pays to be specific about the values and timescales involved in each instance and to have a clear idea of who your customers are and where they can be found will give you a starter for ten too.

Answer these questions and you have a reasonable marketing brief to be tackled solo, or with professional help dependent entirely on your aspirations and budgets. (Remember, DIY is great, if you’re good at it. If not, there’s nothing worse than a bodged job and you may as well flush your cash, for all the good it’ll do you).

If you’re DIYing, brainstorm all of your options and don’t forget the low cost or no-cost options, such as word of mouth or securing some free coverage from your local newspaper. It’s a good idea once you’ve got all your ideas down, to rank them according to their ease/cost. If there’s anything easy and low cost that you’re not already doing, it’s time to get cracking. But for everything else go back to your objectives and ask how exactly can this activity deliver customers/sales? Put definite figures against it. Trust your instincts –  after all you’ve got valuable experience to draw upon. And as fast as your hat, you’ll know if the activity is worth investing in, whether it delivers the elusive trophy – Return On Investment.

Written in simple terms – this is the basic process followed by marketing agencies, large and small, when they build marketing plans for businesses and brands. But bolting together a ‘mix’ of activities that look to give the best returns isn’t where it ends. The skill of marketing is keeping track of returns (through measures), as you go along so that you can adapt your approach and sink your energies into doing more of the stuff that works for you.

So whilst the end game is results – successful marketing could be compared to a rolling road. And the best route to winning is to set and monitor your own performance against targets along the way.

Sara Scott

Sara is a marketing specialist with a wealth of on-line and traditional experience. With award winning credentials as an advertising writer, her career also spans the disciplines of planning and strategy for both B2B and consumer clients. Having worked for one of the the UK's biggest non-London agencies, Sara now works on a consultancy basis for clients large and small. http://www.smallbizpod.co.uk/blog

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  1. Bill Dueease says:

    Yes!

    You hit the nail on the head.

    Marketing is a journey where you keep in touch with the results (feedback) of marketing actions and steps to determine what is working best to reach the ROI objective. The better the understanding of the vision and final objective, and the better the understanding of the results of each marketing step taken, the better the trip will be, with more success steps and fewer misadventures.

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