You know the dumbest thing that I ever hear by a business owner is when I ask them about their marketing and if it works and they say that they don’t know if it works or not. So, then I ask them what marketing options they use. Most will give me a blank look and tell me that they use what they’ve used for years, and yet have no idea if any of it works. I asked one business owner how he could justify using the same thing year after year after year, with no idea whatsoever if it was effective or not and he looked me straight in the eye and said, “ I can’t justify it all but what are you going to do? Gotta do something.”

No, you don’t have to do anything. In today’s digital world if you aren’t constantly monitoring your business, your industry, your customers and your prospects then you are in trouble. It’s like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall, it just can’t be done effectively. If you don’t know how the industry or your customers and prospects have changed, I would rather advise you to stop your marketing campaign and stop the bleeding of wasted marketing dollars.

I’ve created a short checklist of some of the things that you must do today to prepare and create an effective marketing campaign.

  1. I’ve thoroughly researched my industry. Know it inside out and outside in. Don’t rely on what you think you know. Study it. Know what the trends are and know what changes are going on before you spend a ton of money even starting a business. If you’re already in business, then you must know your industry before embarking on a big marketing campaign.
  2. I’ve written a business plan. Please go through the effort to write a business plan. Even if you aren’t looking for investors or a bank loan, go through the exercise of writing a complete plan. This will force you to ask questions of you and your business that you have yet to ask and when you’re done, you’ll avoid costly mistakes and achieve success much sooner.
  3. I am prepared to change. When you do a business plan you will more than likely discover a better way to build your business. You might even find that there is a better application for your business idea than you’ve ever considered. Never be so emotionally attached to an idea that you can’t change.
  4. I know my WHY? Do you know why you do what you do? Why do you put in the hours? Why have you invested so much time and money into what you do? Before you can create any marketing campaign you really need to understand your emotional why!

For instance, this is the difference from Owning a Shoe store versus owning a store that improves people’s lives by helping them care for their feet.

  1. I know my true customer. Don’t assume who your perfect customer is, do some research. Find out what the industry says it should be. Review your own client files at least twice a year. I worked with a dentist who spent large marketing budgets focused on a male audience because that’s what he thought it was. When we audited his files, his audience proved to be 35+ women. Big difference.
  2. I know how my true customer acquires their information. Once you have solid proof of who your target customer should be now study how they acquire their information. Do they read the newspaper, or do they read it on-line? Do they listen to local radio or do they only listen to satellite music channels? Do they watch commercial TV, or do they only watch internet TV? Know this and you’ll save a ton by not wasting marketing dollars. Never, ever spend marketing dollars because you think that the media “might’ work or because you can put your face on the billboard.
  3. I know who my competition is and what their strengths are! It’s just stupid to think that you don’t have competition. So, take a hard look at this. Look at direct competition and indirect competition. Direct competition are those businesses that are specifically and directly in your same space. Indirect competition today could include Amazon.com, or eBay, or some of the big box giants that offer on-line shopping and free local delivery. Like it or not you must be able to compete, so be honestly aware of what you’re up against. Then and only then can you compete.
  4. I have a strong selling message with a stronger Call-To-Action! I’ve met many people who spend big dollars to have someone write cute and funny advertising copy. It might win advertising awards but didn’t sell a thing. The key to great copy is not that it’s cute or funny but does it sell your product or service? And, all good copy must have a strong Call-To-Action. Are you asking the people that see your marketing to do anything, or take certain action? If not, stop, cancel or at least pause your marketing campaign until you can add a powerful Call-To-Action.
  5. I Track everything by keeping METRICS. Track everything you do, no matter the media. You absolutely must track every dollar spent and where it was spent and more importantly to know if the approach actually worked or not. The most unforgivable thing that you could possibly do is to build a marketing campaign and not know if it delivered results. I go crazy when I ask a client if their campaign worked and they say, “I think so, we were busier.” That is unacceptable. Track everything.

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