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How to Tell If Your Service Marketing Is Working or Not is a Topic Covered in a Course on Marketing for Small Businesses

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Recently, I seriously considered the “tracking results” of the marketing efforts I’ve made for my own little business.

I kept thinking, “I don’t think there are many small business owners who know what it means or what to do to track the results of their marketing activities…” as I went through this process.

So, to help save the world, I will show you a straightforward method for measuring the efficacy of your advertising.

You need to wake up and smell the money if you’re not keeping track of your results. You can’t tell if your marketing efforts are successful or unsuccessful unless you monitor their outcomes.

Where do you intend to direct your attention? How will you know what to disregard and what not to? How do you tell if your marketing budget is being spent wisely or if it is being wasted?

Oh, I know you have an idea, but it’s not very specific: “Jeanna, 95% of my business comes from referrals.” The key is pinpoint accuracy in tracking and data collection. And you can’t just imagine it; you must put it on paper and study it closely.

To paraphrase an adage, “You never know how much money you have spent until it is staring at you in black and white in your checkbook,” this is exactly the case. You won’t know what you’ve accomplished until you put your achievements into writing in black and white detail.

So, grab a pen and paper and prepare to keep track. Before we begin, it’s important to note that there are thousands of ways to monitor progress; the method I’ll demonstrate here is just one of many that have proven helpful to my customers and me.

First, compile a complete inventory of your current clientele.

You should include at least 20 or 30 clients, but no more than 50. If you already have a large clientele, you can choose your 20-30 top clients and go on.

Step 2: Next to each of the 20- 30 clients, note the date they signed on.

You do realize that you need to include the exact date, right? Otherwise, note the month.

Third, record the amount of money they have spent with you since becoming a customer, down to the penny.

Step 4: Indicate the services they purchased and whether they returned for more next to the total.

For my company, I might record the following: Jane Doe paid $x for logo/stationery design, returned as a customer and paid an additional $x for website design, and finally paid an extra $x for marketing coaching. Whether they repeat customers or not, record EVERY dime and service, they spent with you.

Step 5: Document the client’s path to becoming one.

Here is where specificity is crucial. And by “detailed,” I mean exceptionally so. Don’t be so generic as to write, “Jane Doe became a client from a referral;” instead, provide specifics.

Here are a few illustrations:

“Two weeks after meeting Bob Smith at the June Business After Hours of the Anywhere Chamber of Commerce, Jane Doe became a client thanks to a referral from Bob. When discussing my new service, “___,” Bob suggested I contact Jane. Bob reasoned that Jane would make for a great customer because of ___.

I bought a list of names and addresses from ___, and Jane Doe responded to a direct mail letter I sent her. With the offer of “___,” this postcard was mailed on the date shown. I sent this postcard “___” times before Jane Doe finally called to schedule a meeting.

The idea is to include as much information as possible in your writing.

Step 6: Write down how much you spent on advertising to attract that client and what channel they found you through.

If a customer contacts you after seeing your Yellow Pages ad, for instance, record the total cost of that ad. Register the attendance fee if they signed on as a client due to attending a Business After Hours event. If they were referred to your company, indicate “free” or the amount if you offer a financial incentive for doing so.

Following this procedure, you should have a list with the following items:

Clients.
After (when) they signed up as a customer.
How much money did they spend with you (either once or repeatedly)?
What they paid for your services and if they came back for more.
This is how they were able to turn into paying customers.
How much was invested in advertising to secure their business.
I mean, what do you reckon? What tendencies are there? Which trends do you notice? …It ought to be possible to spot patterns and trends.

You should be able to deduce the source of your clientele from this data.

Is the Yellow Pages ad getting any results? How many phone calls have you received from advertising your free seminar? Is it worth it to be a part of the chamber? Who is referring the most customers your way?

Commence interrogating. Get started contrasting the figures. Get a handle on your marketing results. Don’t be vague.

This is the only way to view the results of your efforts in black and white.

Use the data to direct your efforts more precisely. You are aware of the strategies that are failing, right? Then it would be best to quit spending money and effort on things that don’t relate to the data you have in front of you.

When going through your finalized collection of marketing data, keep in mind the following:

You are sitting on a veritable informational treasure trove. Now that you have this list, you can choose the top 6 to 12 marketing strategies producing the best results and devote the most resources to them. You can stop doing the things that garnered you a single or a few customers. You may want to rethink spending another $1000 on advertising if only one new client who spent $75 with you is generated from a list of 30 customers.
If word-of-mouth is responsible for most of your business, you must recognize and thank your most loyal advocates. After all, this client is a significant source of revenue for your company. A handwritten message or small gift will go a long way toward making your top referral feel valued.
Is there a specific time of year you see a business surge? Is there a less busy time of year or a time when business is slower? If that’s the case, you should start thinking about how to promote to potential customers several months before the slow time begins. Prospects and the sales process require time; you can’t afford to wait until sluggish times to start working on them.
One of the most critical aspects of marketing is knowing what works and what doesn’t. Keeping a mental tally of your progress is useless; you must record your results.

Get specific, use this tool, document your findings, and stay on top of your game.

Copyright '08-'09. Jeanna Pool retains all rights. Marketing expert Jeanna Pool works with companies of all sizes. She specializes in helping sole proprietors who are experts in their field but have difficulty promoting their services and maintaining a steady client base. Jeanna’s marketing services for small businesses are described in detail on her website.

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