As the new year approaches, one of the biggest decisions entrepreneurs will make is where to assign their marketing budget to achieve the greatest business impact. Whether your focus is on people, process or technology in 2022, make sure you’re investing in a way that will enable you to step back from the day-to-day and take a broader view of the business.
It’s easy to become discouraged when you’re tight on resources or there’s a particular business issue you’re struggling to overcome. Recognizing if these challenges are simply part of the cost of doing business or they are what stand between you and propelling your business to the next level will help you allocate your resources most effectively. Here are five key areas where your investment can yield the greatest results.
Consumers are more active online today than perhaps at any other time, due in part to the pandemic. As we head into the new year, now is the perfect time to evaluate how your target market can quickly find and connect with your business. Do you know where potential customers spend time online, and do you have the right social channels to engage with them? Is your website up to date with the latest products and service offerings? Is it optimized for mobile and desktop so prospects and customers can easily access your website whenever and wherever? Keeping your ideal customer profile in mind during this review process will enable you to make the necessary changes to strengthen your online presence.
One of the keys to business growth is having a process that consistently identifies and attracts new leads. Understanding how customers find you initially and how your offering solves the problem they are struggling to address can help you determine additional strategies to bolster that process. Do you need to invest in an SEO content strategy to create more visibility online and drive organic traffic to your website? Do you need a referral program, enabling your customers leverage their networks on your behalf to feed your business with new leads? Used in conjunction, you will have an effective way to garner a steady stream of prospective customers which will ultimately lead to more sales and growth for the business.
Engagement and Conversion
Feeding leads into the sales funnel is vital, but without a means of converting those leads into paying customers, they’re likely to stall in the funnel and your business will be no better off. But nurturing leads requires a lot of time, which is something most entrepreneurs will agree they simply don’t have. Investing in CRM and marketing automation frees you from manual, repetitive tasks like reminders, follow-ups, and reporting, allows you to collect and organize leads, and nurtures prospects through the funnel by automatically triggering personalized content based on their actions and where they are in the sales pipeline. Automation enables you to drop the things that distract you from the more meaningful actions that can help take your business to the next level.
As your business becomes more complex, it’s necessary to bring in additional people to manage certain aspects of the business so you can redirect your attention to identifying and implementing the changes that will drive growth. This can be difficult because you may realize you aren’t at a point where it makes financial sense to hire a full-time resource, but you no longer have the bandwidth to work simultaneously “in” and “on” your business. Look closely at the areas where support would bring the most value to determine the required skill level as well as the duration of the support needed. If the tasks aren’t complicated, is bringing on an intern a viable option? If you need more skilled or short-term support, is it cost-effective to hire a consultant? If a longer-term arrangement is necessary or you need specialized support, would hiring an agency on retainer enable you to address your business needs? Taking a critical look at the level of support you need will ensure you secure the necessary resources without breaking the bank.
Most entrepreneurs don’t have a blank check when it comes to investing in their business so the ability to calculate the return on investment is essential. To keep from throwing good money after bad, you need a means of measuring the performance of your investment. Do you have established benchmarks that will demonstrate the effectiveness of your investments? Have you established a timeframe – whether that’s two weeks or two years – for calculating ROI? Should you consider measuring ROI over both short- and long-term periods? Measurement helps you determine whether your investment will yield success over time and enables you to make more informed business decisions in the future.
Regardless of where you spend your budget, don’t buy blindly. As the saying goes, “A failure to plan is a plan to fail.” Make sure you have a plan in place to grow and spend your budget in those areas that will support that growth. If you allocate your resources effectively, they will free you up, not bog you down, and you’ll be better positioned to capitalize on every opportunity and tackle whatever challenges may come.
Clate Mask is the founder and CEO of Keap, a maker of sales and marketing automation software for small businesses. He also is co-author of “Conquer the Chaos: How to Grow a Successful Small Business Without Going Crazy.”