to save thousands on your
© 2001- 2004 Stuart Ayling
Marketing can be expensive. It doesn't have to
be, but sometimes you will spend more than you should. Usually you'll realise
this after you've done it. But here are two tips that can save you thousands of
1- Make sure you really understand your market
and your distribution channels.
Sounds simple, doesn't it! For example, one client
had developed an information product for small businesses. They had some
assistance from another agency to check the market and confirm how they should
present the product. Based on that information they printed marketing materials
and ramped up to distribute through professional advisors such as
Nine months later they came to me. Nothing was happening.
Not one sale. Even worse, their distribution channel was not discussing the
product with clients. Why the lack of activity?
After a few sessions with
my client, and some inexpensive (but very effective) research, we came to
understand two things:
1) The target audience of owners of
small-medium sized businesses were not interested in using this type of product,
even though they needed it.
2) The chosen distribution channel was not
well placed to encourage their small business clients to be proactive and use my
Unfortunately, the 'research' conducted by the original
agency was flawed. My client was not entirely happy with it at the time, and for
However, based on our fresh insights we developed more
suitable approaches for my client to distribute their product.
Before you spend lots of money (and time) pursuing a
particular market segment, developing new products, or simply producing new
marketing material, do some homework to ensure you are on the right
Get reliable advice from a professional who can explain things
without confusing you with jargon. Take a bit of time to really check it out.
It's cheaper to do this at the start, rather than after you have invested
heavily in it.
2 - Know where to find your customers, and
promote your business there.
This is another so-obvious factor that is often
overlooked. Most businesses want more customers or clients. Sometimes it's
tempting to advertise very broadly to improve awareness of your firm. But
beware! Who are you really promoting your business to?
If you have a
close look at whom your customers (or prospects) are, you should be able to
narrow down the most suitable ways to promote your business to them. If your
customers are other businesses, maybe direct mail would be best, or advertising
in a relevant trade publication, or using personal sales visits, or simply by
participating in industry events and getting known. If in doubt, ask your
clients and prospects where they usually go for information on new
If your customers are from the general public, then it's a bit
harder to identify them individually. Print media can often provide great
potential to reach prospects, but before you pay big money to advertise in a
publication with broad distribution think about how you can narrow down the
Firstly, are you better considering a media option that is
focussed on your target audience? It might cost more in terms of dollars per
centimetre of space, but the results may be far higher than with a
general-purpose publication. Look for publications that address your audience,
and look for suitable sections or features in larger publications.
you do this, be selective, and don't be seduced by claims of large readership or
"cheap" advertising offers. Ask for a current reader profile from the publisher.
Distinguish 'circulation' from 'readership'. Know who your prospects are and
make sure you are reaching them with an appropriate message.
to look at all your options. For example, have you got your web site functioning
properly? Maybe that's a better tool to sharpen than simply reprinting last
years brochures. Be open to different ideas.
I haven't yet seen a
marketing budget that is "big enough", no matter what the actual size. So plan
your expenditure carefully.
Remember to measure the results of your
marketing activities, and over time you can improve your marketing
Try to be rational in your choice of marketing activities.
Your decision to spend money should be based on a sound assessment of your
opportunities to get your message to your desired audience. Take time to make
the best decision. Sometimes you may want to get an experienced 'external
opinion' to help you decide on the most appropriate options.
Stuart Ayling runs
Marketing Nous, an Australasian marketing consultancy that specialises in
marketing for service businesses. He helps clients to improve their marketing
tactics, attract more clients, and increase revenue. For additional marketing
resources, including Stuart's popular monthly newsletter, visit his web site at
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