How to Maximise Your Business Advertising Budget
For businesses both large and small, budgeting is one of the key concerns that can determine whether or not your business turns over a satisfactory profit.
The same can be said for advertising, which is the main force that brings your product or service into the public eye and attracts customers. Combining sound budgeting practices together with innovative and cost-effective marketing strategies is therefore at the forefront of business management. Given the extent to which smart management of an advertising budget can set your business apart from the competition, it’s important to pay attention to the various considerations that come into play in this process.
Defining your target market
Advertising is essentially the practice of attracting customers to your business, so it stands to reason that the first step in this process is to define your target market. A good way to do this is to develop a clear profile (or several) of the ‘ideal customer’. By being as specific as possible in creating such a profile, various aspects of this potential customer’s lifestyle begin to emerge that can help you to recognise various marketing angles that might be appealing to this type of customer.
Of particular interest are problems that your business might be able to solve, or things the customer wants that your business can supply. By making an assessment of your existing customers within this process, you can also begin to incorporate an idea of their buying habits and the best way to communicate with them. Combining all of the above can help you to get a clear picture of the people your advertising should be targeting, making sure that your budget is well directed towards the most likely customers.
Reaching the customer
One of the most fundamental and yet trickiest aspects of advertising is figuring out how to reach your customers in the most effective way. The process of profiling your target market can reveal some useful insight in this area, but this needs to be further refined. Several important questions need to be answered in this process.
First and foremost, how do your ideal customers get their information? In the modern world, there could be many answers to this question, including (but not limited to) the Internet, television, radio, print media, and word of mouth. Each of these represents an area that your advertising could target. However, since targeting all of them would likely present too much of a strain on your budget, it’s important to determine which is likely to be the most effective.
Another question to be answered is: where does your ideal customer spend their time? In answering this question, it’s important to recognise that most people spend different portions of their day in different places. These might include home, office, and a variety of leisure venues (such as restaurants, bars, clubs, and many others), as well as the places inbetween, such as in cars or on public transport. Each of these places can be a place to target your advertising, depending on how often your ideal customer spends their time there and how easy it is to access these locations with your marketing strategies. An effective understanding of where your customers are likely to encounter your marketing, or, better yet, your product itself, can help to maximise the effectiveness of your advertising budget.
Establish the relationship
A common mistake that is often made by new business owners is to assume that all advertising should be designed to get the customer to make a purchase as quickly as possible. The fact of the matter is that this scenario is very unlikely, regardless of how good your marketing is. After all, most people do not take one look at an advertisement and immediately rush out to by the product! Instead, the function of advertising should be to attract the attention and interest of potential customers, and establish a relationship with them.
Your marketing budget is therefore best spent on advertisements that encourage the customer to self-identify as the kind of person who would benefit from the product or service you are offering. Of course, having already identified your target market well can assist with this process. Your ads should encourage such customers to get in contact with your business directly, ether to obtain of a free sample of your product or simply to find out more about your offerings. Once you have obtained their contact details, the process of relationship building can begin in earnest, and will hopefully culminate in a purchase.
Keep track of your results
You can spend a lot of time coming up with well thought-out marketing strategies that look good on paper, but it’s impossible to be certain of their effectiveness without taking stock of the difference made in actual sales. As such, it’s important to keep a running record of all your business transactions in as much detail as possible, including making a note of the types of customers who are buying your product. By comparing the sales figures before, during, and after various advertising campaigns have been put into place, you can get a clearer picture of which ones are performing effectively and which ones require further refinement or replacement.
You can take this one step further by obtaining data not only on sales, but on customer contact as well. This can take the form of phone calls, clicks on your website, and visits to your retail locations, all of which can be measured using simple electronic data capturing systems or by using computer programs such as Excel. This kind of data is extremely valuable when used to inform your marketing strategies.
Adopting the above strategies can be the most effective way of making sure that your advertising budget is being spent as wisely as possible, rather than simply adopting a ‘spray and pray’ method that tries to target as many areas as possible in the hope that it will result in increased returns. It is far better to make use of intelligent strategies that are cost-effective and worthwhile for your business.