Effective marketing strategies must be in place to enable all organisations reach income and profit targets

Are you spending your marketing budgets in the most effective way? You may have the best products or services in the world, but if nobody buys them in sufficient quantities, you have nothing.

For some basic marketing principles see below. To discuss a project or to receive more information or simply to stay on our list choose from the drop-down list and complete your details.

Whether a start-up or an established business, we all need marketing. We need to know who the target customers are and how to get them to buy at the prices on offer. Marketing is a vital function of any organisation for growing sales income and hitting margins.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines marketing as "the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably". Put very simply marketing finds profitable customers. The overall marketing process starts with marketing research and goes through market segmentation, business planning and execution, ending with pre- and post-sales promotional activities.

For most organisations, marketing is a significant cost. One report says 37% of marketing investment is wasted. Making marketing more effective will save money while reaching reaching sales targets and improving margins. One question marketeers dread is: Can the same sales level be achieved with a lower marketing budget? And when times are hard cutting marketing budgets which are mostly spent with outside agencies is an easy finance director's decision.

The way people buy goods and services has changed dramatically in recent times. This is highlighted, none more so, than with the ways internet marketing and social media influence buying decisions. In turn, this has generated a vast amount of consumer data and, sometimes, conflicting analysis of consumers' buying decision processes. All of which make it difficult to prove the effectiveness of marketing. Marketing is more than advertising and sales promotion. Many non-markting people make this mistake. It defines the way a company should develop its business in terms of new products, new markets and new pricing strategy. It can have a heavy influence on procurment, internal communications and the kind of people organisations should employ. In order to measure marketing effectiveness, then, all these areas of influence need to be taken into account.

Start by writing a simple outline marketing plan. Try and produce it to fill one side of A4 using these headings:

  • What is being promoted? - briefly describe the product/service
  • Why is it being promoted? - list the SMART (specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based) marketing objectives
  • Who is it being promoted to? - define the target market
  • What should they get from the promotion? - describe the product's sensory preceptions, brand values and factual information
  • What is the single most important feeling to take from the promotion? - probably the Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Try to keep the plan as simple and as clear as possible.

The marketing plan then needs to develop a budget. How much is required to achieve the objectives? Each marketing component needs its own budget. Brand advertising, direct marketing, social media, PR, design/print, sales promotions, exhibitions, marketing database, sales promotions, etc all need to be separately costed then reported on to show effectiveness. Marketing and promotion strategies describe how you will achieve the plan. These will include on-line and off-line activities continuously running and tested for responsiveness. If activities do not bring new business, change them or drop them.

With all the latest digital marketing and social media fads and fashions, it is sticking to the traditional marketing basics that is key to marketing effectiveness. It may be old hat but the acronym AIDA is a time honoured handy tool/check list for each piece of marketing activity. The acronym stands for:

  • Attention (or Attract)
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action.
Whether its is sales letters, web pages, blog posts, or marketing emails the simple AIDA structure of the copy is the same. With limited budgets compelling creative treatments in design and copywriting can improve results. For many this requires the objectivity and creative skills of an outside agency. See Copywriting for more help writing copy that sells. There are many people who can build web sites. It's a mechanical exercise based on understanding available software packages. The web designers may even be good at the look and feel. Most fail on writing the content. It's the cotent or information that will sell more and make more money.

With all this in mind, here are some general marketing tips:

  • Using MS Excel build a sales and profit forecast. Month by month show any upfront project spend before sales income starts. Then deduct direct project costs (cost of sales, distribution expenses, marketing expenditure and direct selling costs) to show margins/contribution. In addition to P&L produce a cash forecast allowing for delays in receipts, discounts and payments in advance (such as stock). Many projects fail not because they are not profitable but because they run out of cash.
  • It is always easier to sell to existing customers than to find new ones. Existing customers will buy again and refer you to new prospects.
  • As far as possible test ideas and plans before committing expenditure. The main social media providers allow split testing. Use Market Research for developing and testing larger projects.
  • Always ask for feedback and customer testimonials. Make sure testimonials include references to the benefits they received. Many people struggle when asked to write a testimonial. If necessary write the testimonial on behalf of the customer and ask them to agree its use.
  • Carefully build and maintain marketing databases. Don't forget to update your IPO registration. Regularly clean and update the database - check for duplicates, mortalities and postcodes. If buying in lists make sure you de-duplicate against existing databases.
  • Media advertising can be a complete waste of money. If you do advertise include a response mechanism so that you can measure return on investment
  • Protect your brand, maintain consistency in its use. Keep a brand identity guide and that's not just logos. Make sure all staff and suppliers abide by it - different colours and fonts can can harm a brand
Business success doesn't come about in one day following one 'right' action, it comes from a group of highly focused, highly committed people doing a lot of smaller growth building activities on a consistent basis over a sustained period of time.

Developing an effective marketing strategy is not always straightforward - especially for start-ups. There may be skills gaps in the management team. At Deve we have knowledge, skills, experience and processes to help you design and implement cost effective marketing activities. To discuss a project of for more information or just to stay on our list (never passed on) submit your details

About Deve

The team at Deve supply be-spoke business development services. We combine the disciplines of common sense marketing and management accounting to help our clients increase sales and improve margins. We have succesfully solved problems for multinationals, SMEs and start-ups. We have a background in client side marketing, commercial finance and West End agency practices. We have experience of many B2C and B2B markets. You can take up our full set of services. Or you can access individual skills in business planning, effective marketing, advertising, PR, market research, copywriting, design and print.

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