Make sure your marketing adds up

Whenever we hear people saying anything along the lines of marketing being ‘just advertising’ or ‘just a simple website’ or about having an attractive logo, a little bit of us dies inside.

Well, no, not really. But we WOULD love to get across to anyone and everyone running a small business that marketing done properly goes so much deeper than that. And, by helping you understand the bigger picture, we’ll potentially save you from throwing good money after bad on wasted activity too.

How do you get value for money from your marketing?

There’s a lot you can do to give your marketing activity the best chance of success. Here are just three easy peasy oh so breezy tips to help get you started:

1. Plan

You know what they say, poor planning means poor performance. Even if you’ve been established a while, it’s still useful to go back to basics from time to time to make sure everything stacks up as it should. Customers change. Competitors change. Climate changes. Other things beginning with other letters of the alphabet change…

So, first of all, you need to make sure you understand what your audience needs or wants. And keep reviewing this too because – guess what? – it will change!

Once you’re happy that there is (still) a market need, you should also be well on your way to knowing your ideal target audience. Ask yourself who are they, what their problems and desires are and what motivates them to buy.

The more you understand about them, the better and more easily you’ll be able to approach your messaging and brand to catch their attention and build their interest. Do NOT be tempted to skip this step! It’s really important and, anyway, you’d only be cheating yourself.

2. Test

Jumping straight in to any activity with both feet is, frankly, a schoolboy error and could turn out to be a ridiculously expensive or embarrassing mistake. Seriously. Remember the Vauxhall Nova? Had they not realised and come up with a different name for the Spanish market, the car’s name would have translated as a ‘Not Going’ which might just have impacted on sales there a little. Good save, Vauxhall.

So, once you’re ready to do any kind of marketing, always, always, always test it out. Always. No exceptions. Ever.

At the very least, you should ask a reasonable number of people who are representative of your target audience for their views – not just a few members of your friends and family. Trust us, their hearts will be in the right place, but they’re almost certainly NOT the people to ask about this stuff.

You can also send slightly different versions of a campaign to small groups of your target audience. Then you can roll out the version which got the best results to the rest. This nifty little technique’s called A/B split testing.

3. Measure

At the very least, you need to understand whether you’re making a return on your marketing investments i.e. has the increase in sales generated by a campaign been enough to cover the cost of running it and still give you a profit.

A trap many people fall into is thinking that if a campaign has cost £200 to run and the additional sales it generated are £300, then the campaign has been a success with a profit of £100. But you also need to factor in the cost of fulfilling those sales.

But, as you know, turnover’s vanity and profit’s sanity and all that. So it’s no good looking at the revenue a campaign generated, you need to know if the profit it generated more than covered the cost.

The second trap here is to think that if the cleared profit hasn’t covered the cost, then (even though sales are up) the marketing activity was a complete waste and should never be repeated. But that isn’t necessarily the case either.

You’ve got to first ask, what would happen if you scaled up the campaign? The cost of sending out a campaign to 50 people probably wouldn’t double if you sent it to 100. On the other hand, if you gained 5 new customers out of 50, you could reasonably assume you’d gain 10 new customers from 100.

A high percentage increase in sales and low percentage increase in cost could make all the difference in whether the activity’s worth repeating. So you need to get to know your numbers inside-out.

How many new customers do you need and how much do they need to spend with you to make a campaign stack up? What’s your typical response rate to a campaign? And how many prospects convert to sales?

Getting to know all these figures will make your future marketing planning a doddle. It will help you work out how many people you need to target to get the best chance of winning enough new business to more than cover your costs and make the effort worthwhile.

If you’d like more help in planning your marketing strategy, or making sure your existing approach adds up, contact Mike Hall at ThinkSmart Marketing on

If you haven’t already, please also join our free Business Squad Facebook group which I co-run with my colleague Clare Taylor and Gary King of Tendo.


And (if there are still any left!) grab yourself a ticket to our #BeMore Bootcamp on 9 May in Leeds too for an action-packed, highly focused day of helping business owners be more successful with plenty more practical tips like the above!


Send us a message.

Our details
Not Just Numbers Ltd
5 Carrwood Park
Selby Road
LS15 4LG