As small business owners, we work extremely hard to make every penny that comes through Paypal. Where does that money go? You spend them on supplies, listing fees on Etsy and on a new tool you've been wanting to get for months!
You've probably also encountered moments in your business where you are asked to spend money on marketing. A blog sidebar ad? Giving away products (that cost you money to make) for a celebrity gifting suite? Were you approached to work with a social media agency?
Whatever it is, you'll first have to ask yourself these questions.
Can I measure the results?
You've probably encountered many opportunities to promote your business that require your upfront money. Things like:
- advertising on Facebook
- hiring a PR firm
- doing craft shows (booth fees, travel expenses, lodging if necessary)
- giving away product (requires money to cover the cost of your product)
- advertising in your local paper
You first need to figure out if the results can be measured and be attributed directly to said marketing.
How many new fans did I get from advertising on Facebook?
How many sales did I make at the craft show?
How many new email subscribers did I get from this giveaway?
These include residual sales that you make in your town after the craft show because you've raised the local awareness of your brand and product.
Or buying an ad in a print magazine or newspaper because there's no way for you to track the sales.
You may see a surge in sales during the week you took out the ad, but do you know for sure that some new fan didn't tweet or post on Facebook about your shop? It's impossible to accurately track the results.
While it makes sense for big corporate brands that have unlimited marketing budgets to buy two page spreads in a glossy magazine, it's not always a good way for us small businesses to spend our money.
We don't have a continuous stream of cash to use on promoting our business, so we have to be very careful on how we spend it.
This always peeves me when a marketing/PR/social media firm tells me why I should work with them.
“You'll raise brand awareness.”
I can't measure brand awareness!
I do admit that there are exceptions to the rule: business cards, a pretty website, a cool logo. Although honestly I can't tell you with 100% certainty that business cards even work these days.
But next time you're wondering what you need to be doing in your business to make more sales, think back to this. The best thing you can do is MORE of what you know works already!