This is a question I get asked a lot…
I’m afraid that there is no quick and easy answer, so I usually respond with a series of my own questions…
Firstly, where are you at right now with your business and where do you want to get to?
A start-up business launching from a standing start will need to expend more effort than a more established company desiring modest growth of say 5-10% uplift on year-on-year sales.
Secondly, how much are you willing and able to invest and how quickly do you want to see a return?
A start-up with access to funding can use this to propel their launch from an unknown to making a real impact in their target markets. However, many entrepreneurs begin with limited access to finance and need to bootstrap the company, restricting the budget they have available to allocate to marketing activity, or accessing strategic support and expert advice.
More established companies may have an allocated budget for marketing to cover some of the basics but this is unlikely to be sufficient for a step-change in approach. So in both cases, the business owner needs to decide how to get a cash injection or reallocate expenses from other areas in order to realise their ambitions. This could mean short-term pain for longer-term gain if you need to cut back on other business costs or even directors salaries and dividends.
To sum up, I like to use an automotive analogy. If you think of your business as a vehicle that will take you from A to B, on a journey to personal fulfilment and financial freedom, marketing is the fuel that you need to fill your tank and drive you forwards. The aim of marketing is ultimately to drive sales. It’s what you need in your engine to generate demand and engagement with what you have to sell.
If you don’t have a big budget available (and quite frankly who does these days?) you need to be sure you are really maximising every penny you spend to get the best possible value for money. Also, you need to make sure you are spending your time and energy wisely, if you’re taking the DIY approach to save on ‘real costs’ being expended.
When setting out on a journey, you need to know how far you will be traveling and how fast and these factors will influence your fuel consumption.
If you are planning a short crawl through a congested town centre at rush hour, you will take a different view of a nearly empty petroleum tank gauge than if you are about to head off on an intercity motorway trip.
So my last questions for you to consider are: How fast and how far do you want your business to take you? This will determine how much you need to invest in your marketing.
And if you want to move your business growth along a bit faster – give me a shout!