Is That Marketing Activity a Good Fit for Your Company?

I am often asked to help clients evaluate whether a marketing opportunity is a good fit for them. There are usually lots of pros and cons but the decision always comes down to just a few considerations.

Next time you’re trying to decide to go ahead with an opportunity or not, go through these criteria in your head:

  1. Who is the activity targeting? Take a good look at who the publishers are targeting and how they’re going about it. If the activity’s target matches your own, it may be a good fit. Do you like the message? The look? Remember that when you advertise in a publication or on a website or with other businesses, your business is being linked to that other brand. Make sure you’re comfortable with that.
  2. Is the exposure adequate to justify the cost? It may be a perfectly targeted opportunity, but what if it’s only going to be seen by 50 people? Well, if those are the major decision makers and purse-string holders for your customers, they may be the only 50 people you need to worry about. However, if you sell globally, 50 people may not be a significant enough group. Exposure also includes how often that group will see your message and how it will be presented. For instance, getting a personal recommendation from someone the target really respects and listens to from a podium will be a different exposure than 5000 of your logo’d stickers sitting on a back table.
  3. Will you need to repeat the activity to get a good response? I wish I could tell you that spending your money once on one activity will get you all the business you’d like. Marketing just doesn’t work that way. Most times, effective marketing is a series of layers that support one another and reinforce the brand message. For instance, if advertising in a local paper seems like a good opportunity but you aren’t seeing the results you’d hoped for, take a look at your frequency. If you advertise once a year, your ads are not nearly as effective as they could be. Try increasing the frequency to once per month. Even better? Use a slightly smaller ad at a higher frequency and run another marketing activity at the same time. People need to see things a few times before they clue to into what they’re seeing and take action.
  4. Does the cost fall within your budget? Do you remember Pets.com? They were a dot-com pet supply company in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. You probably recall their award-winning ads with the sock puppet. They are infamous in marketing circles for spending over $11million in advertising in their first year of business and bringing in revenues (not profits) of only just over $600,000. Pets.com isn’t around anymore and it isn’t difficult to see why. Your marketing costs must fall within a budget. Listen to your gut. It will help you distinguish between a fantastic opportunity that’s worth a bit of a stretch and a big risk that might end your business. If it’s too much, it’s too much. Find another marketing activity that fits your budget (and your gut’s comfort level).
  5. Does it get you exposure to a difficult to target group? I have a client who wants to get their message in front of doctors. Not an easy target — doctors have really good gatekeepers in their reception team and may or may not even see the mail or emails sent to them. The client got an opportunity to advertise in a publication that is for doctors and is well used by the profession throughout the year. Now, we have a way past the gatekeepers and a way to begin building awareness.

Also, remember that sometimes the cost of an activity isn’t cash but your time and talent, as is the case with social media and in-kind sponsorships. The same considerations apply.

Do you have other criteria you like to measure your marketing activity decisions against? Please share. We all love to learn what works and what doesn’t!