The basics of getting the most from your marketing budget

Getting the most from your marketing budget It's that time of year - goal setting time. Have you committed to your goals yet? Whether you're out to up your turnover, win new clients or diversify into a new area, I'd put pound to a penny that you'll be needing to up your game on the marketing front to get where you want to be. So I thought it'd be timely to share with you my personal top tips to get the most from your marketing budget. Grab a pen - you'll want to take notes!

1. Ask each client how they found you. I've prepared an excel file that allows me to keep on top of each new enquiry and how they heard of us - whether that's from a recommendation, via our blog, website or social media, or something else like a networking or speaking event. Tracking this essential info will help you to identify which areas are worth investing in, and plug the gaps where one avenue isn't working as hard for you as it could.

2. Pay attention to statistics. Record where your sales come from: does the majority of your business come through existing clients, or new clients? If you're not getting much in the way of repeat business, what can you do to encourage clients to spend more regularly?

3. Plan ahead to avoid expensive knee-jerk campaigns when business is slow. Map out your year in terms of traditionally busy times and those when you expect to be more quiet, making sure that key events such as exhibitions are scheduled way ahead of time. Think about what you'll need to have prepared in time for your various events or promotions, and contact your designer early. The best deals are available when there is less time pressure - trust me!

4. Think outside the box. What can you do to get noticed? Marketing isn't limited to producing a flyer or brochure - think about creative ways to reach your clients. Perhaps you could send them a gift, run a seminar or do something totally whacky (sky writing, anyone?!)? Get creative with your ideas and then edit them down to a list which are realistic and achievable within your budget.

5. Know precisely who you're out to engage with. If I had a pound for every client who told me that they 'want to appeal to everyone', I'd be a very rich lady! But I'm fraid that response doesn't cut it, and won't help you to market your business effectively. Take a moment to think about exactly who it is you want to do business with, and then find out how to reach them. Don't try to win over everyone - you'll weaken your message and water down the results.

And finally...

Audit, audit, audit. I recommend reviewing your activity quarterly to assess what's working and what isn't so you can refine and tweak where necessary. Thorough record keeping might sound like an utter bore but it'll help you to ensure that your budget is being invested in the right places, and will help you get better results than you thought possible. Pay close attention to your results and don't be afraid to cut the dead wood out of your marketing activity if it's not yielding a return.

So, there you have it! I'd love to hear from you if you've anything to add - leave a comment below to add your own tips for getting the most from your marketing budget.