Improve your marketing muscle in 2016

on 19 January, 2016

The New Year means taking a fresh view of your business. Whether you exceeded expectations in 2015 or had a disappointing year, there is always room for improvement in terms of footfall, trade and turnover.

Marketing is one of the best ways to reinvigorate a tired brand or heighten an already thriving one. The trouble is, it’s notoriously difficult to measure. American merchant John Wanamaker famously said: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."

The good news is that these days, it is much easier to quantify the success of your marketing, whether by tracking website visits, responses to email marketing or engagement on social media.

That said, until you know what you want to get out of your marketing spend, the chances are the money will be wasted regardless.

Before discussing any of the available tactics, it’s vital to figure out your overall strategy. All marketing campaigns should start with a list of questions to determine your objectives for the year ahead, starting with the most important. What do you want to achieve?

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? However, once you ask that you’ll realise you need to drill down much further to answer that question. The next set of questions might look something like this:

  • Are you aiming for a general raising of awareness or a tangible uplift in customers and sales?
  • Would you like to target your entire in-branch portfolio or would you prefer to concentrate on specific areas of the business that perhaps need a boost?
  • Are you in need of new business or is it more important to strengthen the loyalty of your existing customers?
  • Are you looking to seduce new suppliers into stocking their wares with you or perhaps seeking to create ties with national merchant groups?

Every merchant will have a distinct set of goals that will define the desired target audience, geographical reach and tone of your campaign and by answering the questions above you’ll be much better placed to make informed decisions.

Of course, once you’ve established the ideal objectives, even more questions arise – such as:

  • How much are you willing to spend on achieving all of the above? With deep pockets, you might be able to cover everything. If not, then you need to prioritise. What’s most important right now?
  • What resources do I have to manage and implement the campaign? If you already have an in-house marketing team, great. Chances are they’ll be able to look after most (if not all) of your requirements. Otherwise, it’s time to seek the assistance of a specialist consultancy to help navigate the potential pitfalls and to generate the best possible return on your marketing investment.
  • What are the best tactics to make the desired impact? Well, that one might take a little while longer to answer – which is why, over the course of 2016, I’ll be providing further hints and tips on all the different tactics at a builders’ merchant’s disposal, from traditional methods such as advertising and PR, to the exciting opportunities presented by digital marketing.

Simon Kinnear is director of communications at Balls2 Marketing.

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