Keep Control of Your Marketing

One of the keys to marketing a successful business is to simply keep control.  I do not mean doing everything. What I’m trying to say is you should manage or at least keep track of all aspects of your marketing and, furthermore, you should not hesitate to give input where input is needed.

When it comes to marketing, a consistent message is fundamental to a successful business.  Many salon owners find it easier to delegate that responsibility to someone else or to an outside marketing firm.  Not to say any of these solutions are no good, but nobody truly knows or understands your customers, and your business, better than you. In order to sustain a consistent message that follows your business game plan, you must be involved in the focus of your marketing messages, the design of artwork, researching your customers in terms of their likes and dislikes, and continually monitor the progression and success of your marketing campaigns.

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? That marketing firm is starting to look very appealing, isn’t it? Well, before you pull out your yellow pages or start running an online search, let me give you an example—a scenario—that just might help you understand the importance of control and how to easily maintain it when it comes to marketing your business.

Scenario #1 – $200 Ad in Salon Magazine
All too often “small” ads like these are ignored once they are launched. Sure we look for it in the magazine when it comes in the mail, but we forget to monitor the ad’s success. Tracking an ad’s success rate, a great way to maintain control, is vital to the growth and progression of any company.  Let’s take a deeper look at the $200 magazine ad. How can we effectively track its success rate? 

A highly effective solution to track customer response to a magazine ad is to include a special coupon, especially if it comes attached with a unique code or keyword.

Simply advertise that if the customer brings in the coupon or mentions the coupon keyword when making a purchase, they receive the special discount/reward. If the coupon is strictly to be turned in, you keep track of how many coupons came back (and possibly even assign an average value of business per coupon to truly track the return on your investment). If it is by keyword, you may have your cash register attendants, right it down, cross it off, or somehow mark it in a way you may be able to effectively analyze the data. By the way, there’s no reason to use both methods. Be creative, find other methods that might attract your market segment and perhaps tempt them to spend at your store more often.

Simple ads in magazines, newspapers, or other forms of popular print media, are pretty simple to place and track. You might be thinking, ‘I don’t need a marketing firm for that. I need it for more complicated mediums, like online marketing.’

Scenario #2 – $1500/mth PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Ad Campaign
Online marketing campaigns, when used properly, and integrated with a useful website, or landing page, are highly effective tools to draw more attention to your product or business. A PPC ad is a text, image, or multimedia link, usually containing key phrases, hosted by popular websites or search databases, which points consumers to your website, or a specific webpage. Each time a consumer clicks on the ad, redirecting them to your site, you pay a fee depending on the price of the search term used to display your ad. 

Setting up a PPC campaign is relatively easy. You pick and choose the search terms you would like to target, days and hours, spending limits, and finally choose the text, image, or multimedia you would like to display as the ad.  You may choose to run campaigns with one, or more, of the many hundreds of companies or agencies that offer such services.

So, let’s say your monthly budget for PPC campaigns is $1500. Since you’ve done your homework on your current website’s statistics, you’ve figured out that mid-day is the best time to snag your target audience. You also know most of them don’t search for terms relevant to your business on the weekends. Based on this evidence you decide to run one campaign with multiple ads cycling through; your ads are turned on Monday thru Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and your daily budget is set to $75. Multiplying by roughly 22 work days in a month, you get $1500/mth. All that’s left is to choose at least 10 keywords or key phrases that best describe your business, product or promotion.

At this point you’re probably saying to yourself, ‘I would rather pay a marketing firm to handle all this.’ And that’s a fine solution, but how do you expect the firm to optimally run your campaign if you yourself are not able to provide them with the appropriate information to do so?

Marketing firms do not use magic in order to put together stunning campaigns. They use the information you provide them; and it is that information—that data—that is so important when it comes to maintaining control of your marketing.

Unfortunately, for many business owners, the thought of running their own marketing campaign strikes fear in their hearts. Business owners tend to run their own operations on a ‘failure is not an option’ mentality; and when they face marketing, failure seems just right around the corner.

Failure in marketing is not always as bad as it may sound.  The failure may be a result of lack of information, too much information included, an error in judgment, or simply a great idea that just didn’t work. Whatever the case may be, you now know—more importantly—what does not work.  A famous Thomas Edison quote applies to this and most aspects of business: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This quote is especially applicable to marketing more than you may think.  When failure comes, instead of beating one’s self down, simply ask, ‘Why did it not work? What could I do better? Is there someone else or something else I could possibly learn from?’

Here are more questions you might ask yourself:

  • Did I advertise in the right publication?
  • How many people received my coupons/offers?
  • Was my message appropriate and compelling?
  • Was my coupon/offer worth something to the consumer?

The main thing to remember, before engaging any marketing campaign, is to do your research. Research about your type of products or services, and great ways to market them; research about your consumers; research about marketing mediums your consumers respond well too; research about a proper budget for a business of your size; and if any question is left unanswered, research about it as well. 

I also would recommend you do several things before spending your money.  If you’re placing an ad in a magazine or medium of sorts, look at several concurrent issues of the same magazine and look for companies who are advertising currently in the publication.  Cut those ads out and put them up on a board for review.  Call each of them and ask them how the ad is working.  You might be amazed to find that some business owners are willing to share that information with you, but, even more so, you might also be amazed to find that most businesses don’t know how their own ad is performing.  The ones that can’t tell you their response rates are not necessarily bad indications of success, but they at least serve as possible examples not to follow.  After gathering and analyzing all that data, you are now armed to make a good decision. The same can be done with online ads, although the exact technique would have to be modified for the internet; so instead of calling, for example, you might have to email.

One of the things I’m going to write in the near future is how to write an ad.  I think a lot of businesses do a very poor job at marketing and knowing their audience.  Just a tidbit of what’s up and coming is marketing to a demographic segment.  One example of that would be that your location is 1 mile from a well-known college.  You know next month the cheerleaders are celebrating something at the school or raising money on behalf of a cause. You can recruit the cheerleading squad at the college to sign up or sell tanning sessions and in return you will donate a certain percentage to their cause. In addition, the cheerleader that sells the most will get one free session per month for a year.  It’s a winner! More of that to come…

So in closing, remember that although you may hire a marketing firm, or your next-door-neighbor’s son, to handle your ads and online PPC campaigns, you must maintain control—and by that I mean successful management—in order to facilitate rewarding gains. Remember research is the key; and once you have that in your pocket it all gets much easier from there. Write out a game plan, and with the bit of knowledge you have now, embrace marketing and step out confidently into the world of business.

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