This Is The Reason Why Your Marketing Is F**ked Up

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Do you how much online advertising money you will need to spend in order to generate ten leads? Or how many emails you will need to send to generate ten responses? Are you aware of the investment required to create ten new customers from a direct mailing? Or how many “likes” will turn into enough new sales to justify the advertising costs?

If you don’t have the answers to these questions then your marketing is f**ked up. Don’t feel bad. You’re not alone. Because when it comes to marketing most of my clients are f**ked up too.

Marketing is all about return-on-investment, or ROI. Unfortunately, spending money on marketing isn’t like spending it on a hard asset. I have some clients who know that if they spend $100K on a piece of equipment for their manufacturing floor the increase in production will easily return their money in two years. But the ROI of a marketing investment is much more difficult to calculate. For most small and mid-sized businesses, marketing is a gamble, a trip to Vegas, a bet on a slot machine. That’s f**ked up.

Bigger companies aren’t this way. They view marketing differently. Sure, they take risks. But most of the senior VPs I know take less marketing risks than you may think. They’re pretty sure of their ROI even before a campaign begin. Much more so than a smaller company. Why?

It’s the data.

Ron Amram knows something about that. He’s now the Senior Director of Global Media at Mars Ltd, the giant candymaker. But when I spoke to him a few years ago he had a similar position at Heineken, the big giant beermaker. Amram has 20+ years’ experience working for big corporate brands. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from him is that these companies don’t take many chances. When they spend money on marketing they’re pretty darn certain that they’re going to get their ROI.

While at Heineken, Amram bought data from companies like NC Solutions and Alliant. Trust me when I tell you this data isn’t cheap. But this is what big companies do. They spend a lot. But they get reliable, accurate information that’s very, very targeted.

In Amram’s case, his data partners helped him measure and improve his company’s advertising performance by accurately linking what consumers watch, see, or hear (whether on television, the web, in print, or on the radio) with what they buy. With this data, Heineken could deliver purchase-based targeting and drive more sales. In today’s world, very specific data can be purchased for very specific purposes. There is a lot less guessing about how well your ads are doing, who’s watching them and where your potential customers are. You don’t need to be guessing all that much.

“If you’re a $1 million a year advertiser and trending towards growth and even if you’re a novice in this space buying data from companies like these would be very a smart move for you,” he says. “They can help you pick out the low hanging fruit.” Amram says the right data helped him focus on the those people that react to his ads and ignore the ones who don’t. The response is immediate and it’s scalable.

Big companies spending $1M a year on marketing know that when they spend a certain amount of money on a campaign, they’re going to generate a range of leads and ultimately sales. They measure this very carefully. They plan their campaigns very carefully. The best marketers — like Amram — know that the success of their campaigns will be based on their data. Many have good data from existing customers. Others spend significantly with services that provide the best data possible.

This all sounds well and good. But you’re a small business, right? You’re not running $1M campaigns. So what can you do otherwise?

You can buy data from list brokers — but you’re likely to be disappointed. Or you can spend significant dollars to get the kind of data that Amran uses, which is probably not justified. But don’t get discouraged. There are answers.

You could — and should — be mining your internal customer data that you’re keeping in your accounting and customer relationship management (CRM) databases. You know these people. They’re your community. And then you should complement this information with the services of a firm like Taradel who can not only provide additional prospects from multiple trusted sources but who will then do the marketing grunt work needed to leverage and then analyze that data. Taradel has over 20,000 small business users and offers just about every built-in service that an advertiser could need — audience targeting, design, fulfillment, human support, and performance reporting so that a small business can launch local advertising campaigns with “matching” direct mail, Facebook, Google, and email offers, just like the big brands do.

“Take it from someone who’s spent over $5M on advertising: first party data is your greatest, non-human business asset,” says Jim Fitzgerald, Taradel’s Founder and CEO. “Data functions as a North Star for marketers because it allows any business to be efficient across the metrics that matter, like CPA and LTV. Once you know your audience — who they are, what they like, and what drives them — it’s really just about scaling acquisition across multiple channels and platforms.”

If you don’t have the right data to begin with then you’re not going to know how much online advertising money you will need to spend in order to generate ten leads. Or how many emails you will need to send to generate ten responses. You won’t know the investment required to create ten new customers from a direct mailing or how many “likes” will turn into enough new sales to justify the advertising costs.

Your ROI will be no more predictable than the outcome of a blackjack game in Vegas. That may be fun for a gambler. But for a professional marketer, that’s f**ked up.

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Columnist on smallbiz, economy, public policy, tech for The Guardian, The Hill, Philly Inquirer, Wash Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur. Small Business owner and CPA

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Gene Marks

Gene Marks

Columnist on smallbiz, economy, public policy, tech for The Guardian, The Hill, Philly Inquirer, Wash Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur. Small Business owner and CPA

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