Part Two: Five Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask to Get a Maximum Return on Branding Spend

By Doug White, Chief Analytics Officer, West Cary Group, and Polly White, Small Business Expert

In last week's blog, we revealed reasons why creating a strong brand is a worthy investment of your time and money. This week, we continue with more ways to invest your brand marketing dollars wisely. 

3. Is my brand consistent? Ensure that all of your marketing material is consistent with your brand. From your business cards to your website to your letterhead to your social channels – be unswerving in messaging, identity and experience across the board. This is critical; we’ve seen too many companies suffer from “brand schizophrenia,” and it only serves to dilute the brand. What’s more, your audience demands consistency. In a survey last year, SDL found that 60 percent of millennials expect a consistent experience from brands, regardless of channel.

4. What is the most cost-effective way to communicate my message? Reactive marketing is a “wait-and-see” approach that’s less than ideal when attempting to build a brand because of its lack of a predetermined plan. For new businesses, it makes the most sense to spend money on proactive marketing (e.g., print ads, direct mail, search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), radio or television spots, etc.).

Here, you don’t wait for the market to dictate your move. You’re in control of optimizing revenue and profit performance. Because you use data to analyze trends and base your marketing decisions on what your target audience is and will be searching for, this can be the best long-term plan.

Bear in mind that markets are not homogeneous, and you’ll need to ensure that the segment of the market that most values the things that differentiate you from the competition hear your message. It’s worse than useless to communicate to a group of people who prefer red that your product is blue. Once you’ve identified the segment of the market that values your message, develop a marketing plan on how to most cost-effectively reach them.

There’s power in an e-newsletter. According to the Direct Marketing Association, direct mail still yields the lowest cost per lead. Turn your employees into brand ambassadors. Remember that it isn’t always the glitziest or most expensive campaign that gets noticed, and content is still king. Analyze your market and the data – they’ll tell you where to make your move.

5. Am I getting an acceptable return on marketing investment (ROMI)? ROMI is the incremental margin you generate as a result of your marketing divided by the marketing spend. It sounds like a mouthful, but it’s ultimately a simple formula. Luckily, measuring ROMI is reasonably straightforward in some channels (e.g., banner ads, direct mail, email, etc.). It can be significantly more difficult in others; doing so may require estimates and approximation.

West Cary Group knows that measuring the cost effectiveness of marketing efforts enables businesses to make better decisions about how to spend their marketing dollars. As Moses Foster said in his blog post Advertising Without Measurement is Dead, “with data coming from every possible direction – web, phone, mobile, email, social media – there are endless opportunities to measure, analyze and positively inform campaigns.”

The point is that a dollar spent on marketing should yield more than a dollar in gross margin. If it doesn’t, you’re wasting money. And time.

A brand campaign can be incredibly expensive. It can be a black hole into which you throw endless resources without result. On the other hand, if you use the data to deliver a clear, well-targeted message that resonates with prospective customers through cost-effective channels, it can provide exponential value for your business.

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