The simple answer is: all of them. You never know exactly what media will best reach both new and existing customers at any given point, and tastes do change. Today’s avid print media reader might defer to online sources at any time. Some people respond well to direct contact like eblasts, others hate the intrusion. Members of your audience are Generation X or even Baby Boomers, and then there are the Millennials, who speak a whole different language.
So, how do you ensure your marketing dollars are put to the best use and you get the best possible ROI? To be sure, you have to have the stomach for a little trial-and-error, because, despite what supposed “experts” tell you, there is no magic wand you can wave that will guarantee a high rate of return for a lower investment in your resources.
But what you can do is be smart about it. And you can be efficient with your marketing spend so that you can fund important exploration. Here’s how:
A little research can save you going down a lot of blind alleys
Don’t venture out there with any campaign until you’ve done your research. You may have worked in your industry for decades but if anything is certain, it’s that nothing is certain. Markets react and change as dictated by a variety of ever-changing factors. So, what was set in stone five years ago may be totally irrelevant now. You have to reinvest some time and resources in figuring out who your market is and what it is looking for TODAY. This research can involve updated audience demographics, new trends in your industry, emerging market and thought leaders, competitive analyses (traditional competitors may not be major players anymore) and good old-fashioned data (hard stats and numbers). Do your homework first and it will pay you back in multiples, because when the road is clearer there really is a shorter distance between two points. And spending less time getting it right has a way of costing you a whole lot less.
Don’t look to digital marketing as your sole savior
Digital marketing has been touted as the end-all because of its very low cost of delivery. And there’s no arguing that eblasts are cheaper direct marketing vehicles than direct mail. But what if you have to put a physical product sample in a targeted customer’s hands? That could be a completely different story, no matter how interactive you make the electronic experience. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all have their place in reaching both wide and specific networks of people. But those that swear by LinkedIn don’t necessarily view Twitter as being serious dor dignified enough. And who can argue against content marketing (a great way to keep you in front of customers and position yourself as a valued thought-leader)? That is, unless, you’re sending out the same content as 50 other people. To use digital marketing efficiently you need to be sure:
- which platform is best suited for your target audience
- that other more traditional vehicles and media, although potentially more costly, aren’t, in fact, better at achieving your goals. Better to spend $10,000 to make $50,000, than to spend $2,000 to make nothing.
- that the information you’re sending out there is to-the-point, fresh and original
- you know how to get accurate metrics on everything you do. How can you accurately determine the ROI of any effort if you don’t?
Not every commercial has to be “Gone With The Wind” and not every brochure has to be an encyclopedia
You can easily blow your marketing budget on TV or radio commercials with extraordinarily high production values or on a brochure that has 20 pages and plays you a medley of your favorite hit songs. But sometimes less is more and you can make the impact you want with simpler vehicles. Save big on media expenses by buying 30-second radio spots versus 60-second. A lot of companies have found ways to condense their message on TV into 15-second spots. And, if your audience is exclusively B2B, you might not want to consider TV or radio at all. For direct mail, think about oversized postcards instead of heavy brochures that have to be stuffed into envelopes. Postcards make it virtually impossible for your target not to get some or all of the message you want to deliver to them, whereas something in an envelope can get thrown in the wastepaper basket before it’s ever opened. Postage costs alone, postcards can give you better ROI.
Don’t be afraid to hire Pros
There’s no doubt that hiring experts will cost you more than trying to do it yourself. But before you try to tackle it all in-house, ask yourself the following:
- Can I devote the time that’s necessary? You might think you do and then get halfway through it all and cry for help. Getting halfway there is worse than not starting at all.
- Do I really know what I’m doing? You might know your company, its products or services and your staff’s capabilities inside-out, but that doesn’t mean you have the background to convert that into a campaign designed to win.
- What am I really saving? It’s all about the potential for success. Savvy marketers know that, more often than not, the right experts are not a cost center but a profit center.
These are but four categories, and I could go on and on, but there is a price/value relationship in every marketing tactic you may try. And the best chance for success with the highest possible return trumps the lowest cost just about every time.
Catalyst Marketing is here whenever you need us to prove everything I’ve said.