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Get It Together  Why Your Business Needs an Annual Marketing Strategy
Mike Wright

Get It Together

Whether you are spending $10 or $10,000,000 on your advertising and marketing every year, you shouldn’t spend another dime if you don’t have an annual marketing plan for your business. Most major companies have entire teams of people dedicated to planning a marketing budget and ensuring its effective execution. If this sounds like your business, this post might not be for you, feel free to take a look at some of our innovative solutions including enterprise partnerships and business applications for larger companies.

If you are still reading, then you fall into the category I have titled “most small business owners.” In other words, you are not alone. In fact, many of our clients told me some version same story when we first met.  It goes something like, “well you know, I got involved with this media outlet when so-and-so came in. And, then I started spending money online when so-and-so came in; I'm not exactly sure what he does, but I get a really great deal.” 

The truth is, most small business owners piece together a patchwork advertising strategy that is often a result of little more than who walked in their door on the right day.  After all, you run a successful business right?  So those radio ads you bought must be working.  But then again, maybe this year isn’t looking as good as last year, and come to think of it, the year before wasn’t so hot either.  You can of course always blame the weather, the economy or those damn politicians. But, let's take a step back.  Is there a way to really know how effective your radio or print ads really are?  You’re web guy tells you you’re getting lots of “clicks” but how does that translate into actual customers?  The answer begins with putting together an annual marketing strategy. This process begins with taking a good hard look at how you’ve spent your marketing and advertising dollars in the last few years and how that affected your overall sales numbers.

You might also want to revisit your brand identity, brand story, target markets, messaging, available channels. Take a look at how you stack up against your competition.  Then, think about how you are spending money and how much money is coming back to you.  Which forms of media are actually bringing in customers?  Do you buy your media because the rep brings you lunch on Tuesdays?  Sometimes, in order to improve your business you've got to ask yourself the tough questions and not be squeamish when it comes to the answers.  

We suggest you down with all your reps and get them to paint a clear picture of how many impressions you are buying with every advertising dollar.  Look at last years costs, the number of impressions they produced and the cost per impression.  Be sure to add weight for the size and type of media, and include any setup or production costs including taxes to get the most accurate information on your cost per acquisition.  Use your instincts and try to setup the most apples to apples comparison. Install call tracking, coupon codes or ad specific phone numbers and crunch the numbers.  It is only by compiling the best data available you can make the best possible decisions. 

When you have sorted through the tangled web of numbers that was your marketing budget for last year, it's time to lay out a plan.  Start with the total number of money you wish to spend over the next twelve months.  Work up a spreadsheet that outlines your existing contractual obligations, expected sales, available media and begin to plan.

Still confused contact the team at Sparkable and let us help you figure out your annual marketing strategy.

Connect with me on Twitter @sparkablemike or visit us at the Sparkable Atlantic City office in the Schultz-Hill Foundation Professional Arts Building.