Many companies approach advertising the same way that I used to play with boomerangs as a kid: Throw it away as hard as you can, cross your fingers, and pray that it comes back to you. Usually my boomerang wound up in a bush or on a neighbor’s roof.
This “hope and pray” method works fine when the worst case scenario is a broken piece of balsa wood, but it’s a different story when your company’s bottom line is at stake.
Advertising shouldn’t be a shot in the dark. Good marketing is closer to science than art, and should be the result of research, careful planning, and logical decision-making.
Here are 4 questions to ask yourself before beginning any marketing campaign, in the order you should ask them:
1. What are my goals?
Setting well-defined goals and expectations will help guide your efforts throughout the entire campaign. It’s important that you figure out (and document!) exactly what you hope to accomplish before you start anything.
The more specific you can be, the better. Here are some examples of specific goals:
- Increase market awareness by 10% among Hispanics age 18-24
- Find 50 new qualified leads
- Drive 3,000 hits to the company website
Examples of non-specific goals:
- Increase sales
- Drive traffic to website
2. Who is my audience?
We’ve already covered this point in a bit more depth in our post [LINK “Who is My Target Audience?”], so we’ll make this point brief.
Knowledge about your target audience is the single most important bit of information you can have, and without it your marketing efforts are doomed to failure. You may very well get lucky once or twice, but in the long term your efforts will trend in the red.
3. What is my budget?
Never start a marketing campaign before you determine exactly how much you have to spend on it. Otherwise, you may get halfway through and discover you don’t have the ability to finish, meaning your entire marketing budget just disappeared leaving you nothing to show for it. Hopefully this point fits in the “no duh” category for most of you, but you might be surprised by how often this happens.
4. Which medium should I use?
This is a very big question, and unfortunately there are no “one size fits all” answers for it.
Actually, that’s a point that deserves to be stressed: THERE ARE NO UNIVERSALLY SUCCESSFUL MEDIUMS. You can’t target everyone with an ad, because people respond differently to the same things.
You need to find out where your target market is and advertise there.
Especially if you are working on a small budget, your available options may be narrow.
A few low-cost options include:
Regardless of which mediums you can afford, you should always spend time making sure that your intended audience is an active user of that medium BEFORE you launch.
5. How will I track my success?
In today’s day and age, there is always a way to track response rates – often in real time. Mailings can use PURLs, web ads show clickthrough statistics, print ads can be given special URLs and phone numbers to track responses.
If you don’t measure the success rate of your campaign, how will you know whether or not it was a good investment?