“As a small business in the current economy, how have you modified the advertising portion of your marketing budget this year? How has it been working for your company so far this year?” (Question on LinkedIn)
Hopefully, nobody says, “Business is down, money is tight, so let’s cut advertising.” But you SHOULD ask, “Where do we get the most bang for our scarce marketing buck?” Then examine advertising along with your other options.
Ads or promo? Direct mail or email? Internet outreach? Networking or public speaking? Asking for referrals? Cross-selling current customers?
And not just about advertising in general, but for each type of ad placement.
To figure this out, I would create a grid: Down the left column, write every every type of advertising, and every other marketing activity that attracts business for you. Then across the top, head columns by the most important criteria for you, such as:
– How much you’ve spent on this, in both dollars and time (Put a dollar value on an hour of your time.)
– Size of customers or sales this brings you
– Number of customers per time period
– Desirability of the customers
– Lead time till you get the customers
– Its potential to bring you more in the long run
– (add your own)
Then rate each marketing activity by each criterion. Add up the totals and see what gets high and low scores. This is an eye-opening exercise.
This approach is over-simplified. It ignores interactions among types of marketing, and ignores strategic marketing with a long lead time. But it gives enlightening answers to the question, “What marketing gives me the shortest route to cash flow now?”