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How much should a small business spend on marketing?

dollar-726877_640The Small Business Association and other sources advise budgeting 7-8% of gross revenue on marketing. In my opinion, even 5% strategically spent should bring a very good return on your investment. With so many different places to spend that budget, what brings the best results? The answer depends on many variables, including your industry, target market demographics, location, competition and more.

So, how do you decide? A professional analysis of your current marketing plan is a great place to start. An experienced marketing professional can review all your printed and online marketing, advertising and sales vehicles, review your goals and objectives, and provide a plan to realize the best return on your investment.

Contact us for a comprehensive review of your company’s marketing and sales activities, with recommendations for optimizing your return on investment.

Top 10 reasons to implement a digital marketing strategy

  1. img_4475Your gross revenue is flat or falling.
  2. You have no idea how much traffic your website is getting or where it’s coming from.
  3. You know your website traffic numbers and they’re not good.
  4. Your business is not in the top three Google search results for keywords matching your products or services.
  5. You don’t even know what’s on your website and can’t remember the last time you looked at it.
  6. Your social media profiles aren’t integrated with your website.
  7. Your website consists of a few pages that haven’t been updated in months or years.
  8. Your last blog post was in 2013.
  9. You’re spending a whole lot of money on advertising with little result.
  10. You’re a brand new consultant, contractor or small business owner.

Contact us for a comprehensive review of your company’s marketing and sales activities, with recommendations for optimizing your return on investment.

How solid is your small business marketing strategy?

cropped-cfsampson-logo-rev1.pngAs you close the books on the past year and envision generating record gross revenue and profit for your small business in the coming year, do you have a solid marketing plan for meeting those lofty goals? The pressure is often on your sales team to close more deals, but have you provided them with a solid branding and marketing strategy to generate leads? Do they have sales tools and exceptional customer service to reinforce their sales efforts?

Marketing tactics have changed a lot since I first contracted a website designer for my employer 18 years ago. Advertising dollars that used to be spent on direct mail, printed newsletters, yellow page ads and telemarketing are now being directed toward “inbound marketing”: websites, pay-per-click website ads, search engine optimization (SEO), blogging, smartphone apps and email campaigns.

As a small manufacturing business owner for three years, I met many other small business owners. Many dream of hiring a salesperson (at a minimum of $30,000-$50,000 a year) but wouldn’t think of spending anywhere close to that on contracting website development, SEO and blog writing to drive traffic to their website.

A carefully planned marketing strategy and budget can bring a far greater return on investment than adding another salary. Also, your marketing expenses can flex with your business’s seasonal needs.

Every business needs an experienced branding and marketing expert. Whether you’re looking for a comprehensive review of your existing website and other marketing tools or help with developing and implementing a more strategic marketing plan, contact me to discuss your needs. I’ll provide you with a timeline and cost estimate for one of the most important things I know how to do: help you increase profit by solidifying your online presence.

How to brand a small business

cropped-cfs-digital-marketing11.pngOnce you’ve chosen a business name and designed your logo, it’s time to begin branding your organization. The most obvious element of branding is consistent use of your business name, logo and tagline, but branding is about communicating much more than just the products and services your business offers. Branding can also communicate:

  • Your company’s culture, mission and values
  • Your targeted customer demographic or product niche

Providing Your Customers with a Consistent Experience

Consistency is the most important element in building a strong brand and attention to detail is critical.

Employees and vendors often cringe at a large company’s thick manual of strict branding guidelines but consistent use of logo colors, fonts and a tagline is actually the simplest element of branding. Other, less obvious ways to brand your business include focusing on both excellence and consistency in a number of harder to control areas:

  • Website Presentation and Content
  • Social Media Content
  • Printed Materials
  • Buildings, Vehicles and Dress Code
  • Customer Service
  • Community Involvement

Continue reading How to brand a small business

Six tips for designing your small business logo

Networking with others in your industry and related industries is the most important thing you can do to get your small business off the ground quickly. But before you start networking, you will need a professionally designed logo, an attractive business card and a polished, interactive website.

While you might never be recognized worldwide by just a symbol, like Apple® or Coca Cola®, your logo will be very important in communicating your professionalism and attracting repeat customers. As with your business name, it’s often best to keep your logo as simple as possible. A complicated logo design will have hidden costs in the future; for example more expensive building and office signs.

Today I’ll talk about some important considerations in creating a strong small business logo.

Continue reading Six tips for designing your small business logo

Effective copywriting: Readability matters

StarTribune Newspaper April 13 2016I was surprised to learn today that, according to National Assessment of Adult Literacy surveys, the average American adult reads at a 9th-grade level, prefers to read two grades below that, and will tolerate two levels above. Interestingly, most popular novels are written at a 7th-grade level while most newspapers are written at an 11th-grade level. Maybe if newspapers reduced their reading level by four grades, the general public would be more informed about critical issues.

Continue reading Effective copywriting: Readability matters

Even Stephen King needs a good editor

On-Writing-Stephen-KingWriting and editing are two very different skills. While I’ve written countless feature and news articles over the years, rich descriptive language doesn’t come easily to me. My real strength and passion is for editing other writers’ work. In fact, many of the most imaginative writers seem to have little or no regard for grammar, sentence structure or other language technicalities.

Even a prolific creative writer like Stephen King needs a good editor. In his classic “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”, King spends a fair amount of time promoting the importance of grammar and the brilliance of William Strunk’s classic writing guide “The Elements of Style”. He then goes on to describe his writing process: a first draft followed by one or more passes to reorganize and refine his original thoughts. Even so, as he describes it, his trusted editor still has a lot of work to do, massaging and shaping the story into its final printed form.

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Every company needs a communications expert

Carolyn F Sampson WriterIn this age of information overload, the English language has grown to include more than 1 million words. At the same time, our high-pressure schedules leave little time for crafting polished, professional business communications. Even daily newspaper articles, written and proofread by trained journalists and copy editors, are rarely error-free. With our journalistic standards quickly eroding, it’s tempting to believe that well-researched and well-written copy is no longer important. Why not just grind something out and move on to the next project?

Continue reading Every company needs a communications expert