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January 2010 Issue --> Small Business Advice Article
Getting Return on Your Investment for Marketing
By: Carl Roughsedge

How do you make the best of your available marketing budget?

What are the best marketing tactics for your business?

How do you implement an effective marketing campaign?

According to the NatWest Quarterly Survey of Small Businesses in Britain around 17% of small and medium sized businesses in the UK seek marketing advice every year, however less than half of those businesses consider the marketing advice they received to have been a success. A failed marketing campaign can be a major financial setback for a smaller company; a large financial outlay with little or no return puts a dent in the bottom line and holds back growth for the business or even worse.

So how do you give yourself and your business the best possible chance of getting return on investment from your marketing spend? Well firstly do some research, think very carefully about the customers or clients that you are seeking to attract, this may include geographical location, spending power, sex, age, social class or business type & size. Think how the target market that you have defined may seek the services of a business such as yours. Will it be on the high street, on the Internet, in the local papers, magazines or national papers or maybe yours is a business where it is important to contact your potential clients or customers directly by mail or telephone.

Most likely it will be a combination of several of these media options that will provide the optimum answer. One particular tip would be to consider every media option very carefully and never make snap decisions even if presented a very good price to "buy now". Price is obviously a consideration however, it is always good to "test the water" with a particular media before committing a large percentage of your marketing budget to it.

The next stage is to think about what makes your business different, what makes it special, why should clients or customers choose to deal with your business rather than any other business providing the same or similar service. The term USP or unique sales point is often used, in truth very few businesses have truly unique sales points but most do have areas of competitive advantages where they have something to offer above and beyond their competitors. Think what your areas of competitive advantage are, they could be price related, quality of service, geographical, image, market specific, choice, etc.

The competitive advantages that you have identified should form the core of the marketing message that you aim to convey to the target market that you defined earlier in the thought process. The message should be conveyed via the media channels that you have identified as both effective and affordable.

The final element in getting return on investment from your marketing is to get the creative execution correct. So many businesses fall at this last hurdle. Having identified their target market, selected the correct media and thought through the marketing message the final execution is then so often poor. Any communication with the target market must be professional, persuasive and convincing. A badly designed or written advertisement, mailer or website can "kill off" a campaign that otherwise would have brought return on investment. So whatever you do, do spend the necessary time and money to get this last stage absolutely spot on. You never get a second chance to make a first impression!

About the Author:

Carl Roughsedge is Director of http://www.e-Moonlighting.co.uk which provides marketing and graphic design to small and medium businesses around the World. Carl has over 20 years experience in marketing agencies.
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