Thumb Rules to Prepare an Effective Marketing Budget

Effective Marketing BudgetIt has diverse benefits. But there are still many small businesses that are not making its best use. The reason behind it could be any; probably they are not aware of its benefits or they are not clear with the budget that they need to invest on it.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way out, because planning a marketing budget is not a child’s play! However, there are many rules on which it can be planned. But before doing this, every business owner needs to understand the difference between the marketing and advertising.

Advertising is a subset of marketing while marketing covers advertising, brochures, competitions, trade shows, travel, personal selling, free tastings, demonstrations, direct mail, sponsorships, etc.

Here are five thumb rules that will help you to create an effective marketing budget –

Promote at the Right Time

Businesses with no budget and declined sales often make the mistake of promoting their brand because they need extra business.

It does no good to the business; instead, it is just a waste of money. Thus, it is always advisable to advertise at the right time.

This is because the only objective should not be fixing a problem, but instead, creating new opportunities as well.

Don’t Depend on the Spare Cash

Businesses that are doing well are likely to spend more on promotion while businesses doing not so well are likely to cut down their efforts. But this is not the correct way to utilize the cash flow. The simple reason for this is that if a business falls, the promoting of will also decline, which in turn, will eventually affect the business more.

Don’t Completely Rely on the Percentage of Sales Method

The percentage of sales method is the most appropriate way to determine what percent of business sales profit will be used for the promoting the brand. For example, if the sales were $300,000 and you decided to spend 5% of sales on promotion, then the total budget will be of $15,000.

But the question arises if actually there is a need for spending $15,000 for promoting. Well, to it is NO! If it can be done for a lesser amount then why spend more?

Therefore, the percentage of money used for promotion should be based on the need of a business. For example, a retailer needs to spend more on advertising, while a manufacturer need not spend amount of money as the retailer.

Never Follow the Competitors

According to business accountants of development service companies most of the businesses often copy their competitors to promote their brand’s product or service. But this approach may not be so helpful as the competitors may have enough budget or good sales, which allow them to spend thousands of dollars in promoting themselves.

Thus, copying the competitor is a bad idea. Therefore, it is advisable to make your own strategy that will help you jump one step ahead of the competitor.

Plan Your Strategies Beforehand

Before implementing anything, planning is always important, especially for entrepreneurs. Right at the start of the year, targets should be set for the next 12 months.

This covers the targeted customers, in which you want to popularize your and the total cost of expenses. Adding all these costs beforehand will help you to prepare a marketing budget for the year.

Points to remember while making the budget –

    • Hold a cash reserve, so that you can make the best use of it at the right time (at times when profitable opportunities arise during the year)
    • Keep your objectives clear.
    • Use money for business promotion at the right point of time.
    • Conduct a break-even analysis. This will help you determine whether you are able to get enough profits to cover the amount of money spend on promotion.
    • Implement strategies that you know will work out best for your business. Moreover, never do things which your competitor is doing because every business is not the same in terms of cash flow, budget, sales and more.
    • Spending money on promotion to keep relationship with the existing customers and to maintain market share is a good thing. But, make sure it is working in your favor.

In addition to the above-mentioned points, there is one more thing that you should consider – regular monitoring of the marketing process. This will help you to determine whether or not it is providing you with beneficial results. Negligence towards it will do nothing good for your business; instead, will just waste your money.

Finding The Best Marketing Materials And Promotional Resources

Best Marketing MaterialsQuality signage can play a key role in any marketing effort. Signs, displays and banners that are designed to catch the eye and showcase a specific brand, product or feature can allow merchants and retailers to increase revenue and generate additional interest in specific products or services. Suppliers and providers who can offer a wider range of materials options can be an asset that no business owner can afford to overlook.

Poorly designed displays can find even the best quality products going unnoticed on store shelves and retail environments. Marketing a specific item or ensuring that services and promotional specials are more likely to stand out can be more challenging than many business owners might realize. The right promotional materials, signs and banners can make quite an impact on customers.

While digital marketing continues to grow in popularity, merchants and retailers who neglect conventional resources could be making a costly misstep. Proven marketing resources and methods still play an important role within the sales process and access to the right resources can be a very important concern. Dealing with a supplier who can offer a wider range of promotional materials, choices and options is always a smart move.

Generating increased interest in a new product can be especially challenging. Marketing items and goods that customers have no knowledge of often requires retailers and business owners to make special efforts. Displays and signs can be a very effective way to enhance the presence of a specific product and ensure that those who are visiting a shop or store are more likely to take notice.

With so many different printers, suppliers and retailers to choose from, finding the best quality signage or making more cost effective purchases can seem quite challenging. Dealing with a lesser supplier can often result in business owners paying more for the marketing materials they need or having to make do with a selection of options that may not meet all of their needs. For the best signs and displays, business owners would be wise to deal with a better class of supplier.

Promotional costs are rarely an issue that businesses and merchants can afford to overlook. Spending too much on marketing can increase overhead and deprive businesses of the financial resources they may require in order to deal with other matters and concerns. Getting the best deal on banners, signs and displays will ensure that marketing efforts are less likely to place strain on the budget.

The Internet can be very helpful for those who are seeking to learn more about the various promotional options and solutions that may be found. Even a quick search online is often more than sufficient for those who are interested in outlining the choices or finding new options. Comparing different promotional materials online will allow business owners to make smarter and more effective purchases.

Display stands, signs or a pull-up banner can all be very helpful resources for those who are seeking to create a more effective marketing or advertising campaign. Shopping with a supplier who is able to offer more competitive pricing and access to a wider range of materials can be of paramount importance. Finding the right options will be much easier for those who know where to shop.

 

Four Tips to Increase Small Business Visibility

Increase Small Business VisibilitySmall and Medium sized businesses are increasing globally. In Trinidad, they number in the range of 18,000 to 25,000 firms, contributing to 30% of our nation’s GDP. Despite this, US statistics state that over 50% of small businesses fail within the first year (1).

As a result, one of the major business growth challenges for SMEs is how to create greater visibility with limited funding. Here are my top four tips as a small business owner:

1. Become a digital and social networker – You cannot exist in the 21st century without some digital presence.

Even if you offer a service such as planning events or catering; building an online brand is critical in order to grow your business and reach more customers despite growing competition. For most firms this will mean creating a company website, utilizing the main social media platforms and in some instances incorporating the use of eCommerce.

What’s great here is that there are online platforms that can create FREE websites, blogs and social media pages.

As your business grows, you can pay monthly for advertising and your website will benefit from additional features and analytics. It is also important to create regular content for your social pages and website. This helps to create greater visibility by boosting your SEO. Regular content can actually help small businesses build real relationships with customers through live discussions. These are popular on social sites such as Twitter and Instagram. Once you become an avid social media user you can use your platforms to target your customers more specifically.

Facebook for instance, allows you to be as precise with your chosen demographic as possible – territory, men vs women, age groupings etc. Not sure where to find the best free website, check out http://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/. This website critiques the most popular website builders based on price, customer reviews and other key features.

2. Move your business around – In 2016 you cannot expect to have success with only a brick and mortar facility. Gone are the days when we wait for customers to come to us… we need to go to them. There are a number of ways to reach customers now without breaking the budget. In Trinidad, many entrepreneurial firms partake in year ’round markets, events and trade shows. Markets can set you back ( not really! ) anywhere between $300 to $500 TTD to participate. Here I am at THE EASTERN MARKET with a winning customer.

You can also gain more visibility with a pop up store. A pop up store is a temporary retail shop ( sometimes mobile) that is ” here today and gone tomorrow”. Similar to a market, this involves reaching out to your customers at strategic places, usually in malls, car parks, savannahs etc. Be sure to get the necessary approvals before you set up and be sure to Google ” pop up store” for more tips and ideas.

3. Guerilla marketing – Guerilla Marketing by definition is low cost and hence best suited for small businesses. It is an advertising or marketing strategy that involves highly creative, innovative and unconventional tactics that are powerful in capturing the audience’s attention. Check out this guerrilla marketing campaign in 2011 for KING KONG.

4. Develop a customer referral program… and reward customers- Acquiring referrals are one of the basic selling techniques used for both small and large businesses. It is quite common among insurance agents (though sometimes a nuisance:( ) and any one employed as a business development officer. The best part is that it cost nothing and can translate to more loyal customers than traditional advertising, once you are willing to do the ground work. You can employ direct referrals by offering existing customers discounts whenever they bring in new customers to your business. You can take this a step further by launching an online campaign that fulfills the same goal but would be able to reach more potential customers.

Similarly, community referrals are a good way to build your brand through the use of good ‘ole fashion Public Relations. There are many non profit organizations that need support and help. Find a cause that is meaningful to you, typically in your community and partner with them. Periodically, run promotions where the proceeds or part of the proceeds go towards the benefit of your community partner. This will go a long way in building your brand. Your partner benefits from whatever sales occur and they are certainly motivated to talk about and refer your organization to their constituents.

Marketing today is much easy and accessible to small businesses than it was 15 years ago. Moreover, I am impressed daily by the entrepreneurs I discover right here in Trinidad and Tobago. The key to business success is having a passion for what you do, keep working hard at it no matter the outcome and throw in a dash of research and creativity along the way!

Backing Your Messages With “Reality” Builds Trust

Builds Trust“We really care” and “we have a great staff.” Those searching for senior care hear these words (and read them) over and over… and tend to doubt them. First of all, many people are skeptical to begin with about others caring for their loved one. Secondly, if everyone is saying these things, the words lose value.

Of course, if it’s the truth, you should say these things. However, if your words are to be believed and valued, you should back them up with proof. That’s where many care providers fail.

In senior care marketing, supporting your messages with reality builds trust. And having trust is a critical part of both a care decision and a large financial transaction.

Can Work For Or Against You

When you introduce a bubbly staff member on a tour who is helping a senior client/resident and oozes compassion, trust increases and everything you say takes on a higher value.

On the other side of the coin, when a caring staff member does not give eye contact or struggles to show confidence around visitors, “we care” is doubted… lessening the credibility of everything else said afterward. Trust is not built, it is eroded.

Reality Matters Just As Much On Websites

Senior care websites have a similar problem. Electronic visitors often see highlighted “we have a great staff” or something similar. This is often accompanied by stock photos with perfectly lit models, or real photos with no people in them. Either way, no reality. Why should someone trust your staff if you don’t have the confidence to show them.

On the other side of the coin, when internet visitors see real photos and videos, hear staff members talk about their passion for caring, and read actual testimonial cards and letters, not only does trust go up, but so does gratitude. They are thankful that you are taking some of the difficulty out of their researching and decision-making.

I had a client who told me a story before she retired. She had a Swedish accent and was talking a staff member behind the front desk. A prospect came in the front door and heard her speaking. This person walked right up to her and said “you must be Liz.” Liz was stunned. “Do I know you?” The visitor had seen and listened to her on the company website, and was looking forward to meeting her. Defenses down, trust up. What a fabulous way to proceed through the buying/selling process.

Strategies For Turning Reality Into Trust

How do you use everyday reality to support your marketing messages and build trust in your senior care? Here are some suggestions:

    • Practice with staff members on how they greet visitors and join in on a tour. Include eye contact, smiling, what to say, energy and hand shaking. (Yes, I have done handshake training.) On your side, make staff introductions that build confidence, elicit pride, lead to a great response and bring on a smile.
    • Combine common phrases such as “we have a great staff” with stories, videos, photos and testimonial cards/letters. Even in face-to-face meetings, photos can play a pivotal role. Many times I have been in an empty activity room and told how fabulous the activity director and program are. Doubt. A bulletin board full of photos and a listing of Wii bowling league leaders can offer proof of a great staff and residents having fun while the seniors are taking an afternoon nap. (That list of bowling leaders also works on your website, and gives family members a reason to return to your site, improving SEO.)
    • Use real photos and videos on websites and social network pages. (Must have a model release to use images.) They don’t have to be perfect as long as the website and framing are professional. In many instances, the fact that they are not perfect will increase trust.
    • Use the concept we call preconditioning. Address common assumptions ahead of time. And tell visitors what you want them to notice. For example, many people expect senior care facilities to smell antiseptic, or worse. So show photos on your website of your staff baking homemade cookies and tell visitors on phone calls to smell the roses in the garden on their way up the walk.
    • Share your expertise. Caregiver Tips prove you have knowledge and experience.
    • On the phone and on your website, you can mention a staff member that you really want visitors to meet, and tell a story that increases their anticipation.

Think What Would Build Your Trust

Hopefully you do really care and have a great staff. If so, don’t let those or any other marketing advantages ring hollow. Support them with reality whenever you can. Trust will naturally grow and sales will increase.

And keep it simple. You don’t have to be a marketing guru or a braggart. Think more like a newsperson or a storyteller. I tell clients to reflect upon what makes them proud of their facility. Then bring those strengths to light and prove it.