Does Your Pet Business Marketing Equation Add Up?
Many small business owners tend to over-think and under-implement their marketing plans. Their thinking is too often influenced by what they see Coca Cola and Toyota doing while forgetting that what is more effective for small businesses is consistent, day to day direct marketing to their customers. As Jay Conrad Levinson, the father of guerrilla marketing likes to say, “Mediocre marketing with commitment works better than brilliant marketing without commitment.”
When marketing a small business it is essential that you make every marketing dollar invested earn the highest possible return. The higher the return on your marketing investment the more profitable your small business will be. To do this it is critical that you consistently execute a handful of effective marketing tactics. In general, you will be far better off with an ‘okay,’ sustainable marketing plan that you can consistently execute, every day, week, month and year than you will be with a few sensational (costly?), ‘Super Bowl’ style strategies, that can’t be sustained or consistently implemented.
To be as successful as possible in your small business you should be thinking and doing marketing every day. To keep the essential marketing components in mind it may help you to think of your marketing as a simple mathematical formula. That way you can easily maintain a balance in your approach to the various components of your marketing effort which will help minimize the possibility of overlooking critical aspects.
The small business marketing equation we like to use is comprised of four fundamental components. Your total sales are the end result of the services you offer multiplied by the effectiveness of your sales message multiplied by the quality of your prospective customer multiplied by the effectiveness of your marketing/advertising vehicle; or simply:
Sales = Services x Message x Prospect x Advertising Vehicle.
So you can see from this simple relationship that all factors need to be present in order to enjoy healthy sales. Basic math tells us that if any of these factors is overlooked (equating to zero – and you know from grade school math that anything multiplied by zero is zero) then your marketing dollars will be wasted. You can offer the best services in the world but if any of the other factors are ignored, neglected or not executed then your sales will suffer. It should also be obvious that to optimize your total sales you need to strive for a balance in your marketing approach. From this equation it is clear that the best services marketed effectively to the wrong prospects (for example someone who doesn’t have pets) is a waste of your marketing dollars. Likewise, with everything else optimized, if you use the wrong advertising vehicle (for example an ad in a car magazine) your sales will surely suffer. Your marketing equation also shows you that it is better for your overall sales to ensure that each of the components are present at a moderate level rather than excelling in one area while neglecting the others:
10 x 1 x 2 x 1 = 20
4 x 4 x 4 x 4 = 256
This is not to say that you should strive for mediocrity in your marketing but rather you should not perfect one component of your marketing equation at the expense of the others.
Using Your Marketing Equation Effectively
If your sales are suffering, or if you are looking to grow your business to the next level, start by taking a look at your current marketing plan and, using the marketing equation, weight the various components (using a scale of 0 to 10, 0 being ignored/neglected and 10 being superior results/effort) based on your results, your honest assessment of your efforts, the opinions of colleagues and comparison to your competition. Assign a weighting to your services, your marketing message, the quality/suitability of the prospects you are advertising to and the advertising vehicle. It should be clear that if your services are superior but you are marketing to the wrong demographic then identifying and reaching an appropriate demographic should be where your efforts should go to get the prospect component of your marketing equation up to the level of the other components.
How Can You Tell Which Components are Suffering?
Determining which component may be your marketing weak link will take some thought but if you review your entire process the neglected area can be readily spotted. For example if your phone is ringing off the hook then clearly your advertising vehicle is working (how else would the prospects know how to reach you?) but if you aren’t converting those prospects to customers then either the message you are communicating to them is wrong or your advertising is pulling in the wrong type of customer (maybe your message is ‘total pet care’ but you don’t offer baths but most of the calls ask about baths). You should also discuss your marketing plan with professional colleagues to see what is working for other businesses in your service industry. But by far the most effective way to identify any weak components in your marketing plan is to TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS and prospects. Ask your current and former customers where they get their information, what they are looking for from your services and what appealed to them about your advertising. Engage people on social media sites to determine what they read, the activities they participate in, what are their problems and concerns and what you can help them solve. This information will be invaluable to you in designing and offering services that will be in demand, developing an effective marketing message that accurately reflects the benefits of your services, identifying the prospects that will most benefit from your services and engaging the most efficient vehicle to communicate your message to those prospects. Always remember the best services in the world will not succeed if they are poorly marketed to the wrong person.
Once you’ve adjusted your marketing equation and you are confident you have it in balance, it is time to persistently and consistently execute your plan. There is a direct correlation between the effort you make marketing your business and the results you will achieve, even if you can’t always identify the direct cause and effect relationship between sales and marketing. It is often tempting to try to use every marketing tool available but try to stick to a manageable number with an emphasis on those methods that are most suitable to your personality. Focusing on marketing tools and methods that you enjoy will increase the likelihood that you will consistently implement them and make you a more credible marketer. As you begin to enjoy increased business growth resulting from applying your marketing equation, fight the urge to change your marketing strategy. It is normal human nature to want to change your plan because it becomes ‘old-hat’ to you but remember you will tire of your marketing and advertising long before your prospective customers will. Only consider changing your marketing plan when a review of your marketing equation and testing proves it is no longer effective.