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Even though we are seeing some signs of economic recovery, your company still needs to operate lean in 2013.  And that means getting a serious handle on your advertising budget and your marketing strategies. For a minute, I’m going to challenge you to take off your Chief Executive Officer hat and put on your Strategic Executive Officer hat, you know, the one that’s been gathering dust in the closet for awhile? Take a good, hard look at your marketing strategy. Don’t exactly have a strategy written down? That’s ok — because class is in session, and it’s time to get work.

Calculate ROI

When I said it was time for school, I wasn’t kidding.  Include a calculation of advertising ROI in your marketing arsenal.  It may not be sexy, but numbers don’t lie.  You should be evaluating analytics more often than quarterly, so you’ll know the trends, but buckle down and compare your advertising ROI with your overall budget.  A practical way to do this is to time it with quarterly financials, so you can see how your advertising budget and a corresponding increase in business compares to your overall budget.

Mobile Marketing

In a previous post, I talked about the growth of mobile marketing in 2013 and beyond.  This is low hanging fruit that will give you some immediate ROI.  So, your first strategy should be to get educated on the direction mobile marketing is headed, and then make sure you’re optimizing your advertising channels and marketing strategies for success:

  •  Optimization – Optimize your website and app for mobile marketing
  • Analytics –  Measure your mobile marketing channels for performance
  • Education – Read up on current mobile marketing technology and adjust your strategy accordingly

Target Gen Z

This is a teaser for a more in-depth blog post coming later this week. You’ve heard of the Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y, but what about Gen Z. Your future advertising success will depend on how well you can market to this newest generation. Gen Z’ers are most comfortable communicating by text messaging and social media, and OMG, they consider email a total waste of extra letters. They may work for you as interns, but my friend, soon you’ll be working for them. This is Generation Z, and they have never known a world without an iPad or smartphone. If your company or brand doesn’t have an app, you’re not going to reach Gen Z. By targeting Gen Z now, you’ll harness some future purchasing power.

Instagram

A billion dollar company with 80 million users is a powerful force. Instagram works because the visual images sell with a limited amount of text. Remember Gen Z doesn’t have patience for lots of words, and they’re easily bored. Instagram connects with them in a way that complements, not competes with, Facebook. Instagram also has a broader appeal worldwide because photos speak a universal language. Your success with Instagram will really depend on how you leverage it with other social media sites like Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook. Here’s your to-do checklist for marketing with Instagram:

  • Cross-Market – Make sure your existing web pages and apps allow for easy cross-posting with Instagram
  • Competition – Hold a contest or hunt on Instagram and give away something for free
  • The Backstage Pass – invite customers to see the inner workings of your company in photos
  • Understand and Exploit Geotagging – Figure out where your customers are and market directly to them

Comps

The real estate market is all about comps.  Take a page from their book and read up on the competition’s advertising methods and see how you compare.  Choose companies of a similar size, with similar products and services, and if possible, within a similar geographic area.  Once you compare whatever you’re doing to the competition, you’ll know where you need to change your marketing techniques to outperform the others.  Focus on the word outperform.  The goal is not to simply throw more money at a certain media to match the volume of advertising the competition is throwing out there.  You need quality, targeted messages.

Your business is much like a car.  You can keep putting in gas and it will generally operate, but over time, performance can suffer.  Without regular upkeep, your marketing strategy can become clogged, worn out and broken.  If you wait too long, you’ll be looking at an expensive overhaul, so why not invest a little regular maintenance in planning for your next marketing strategy?