How can you maximize the ROI on your marketing? Think long-term.

12th, Jul 2018

If you are a business owner, where do you see your business in 3 years or 5 years? It’s easy to just focus on planning for the current or upcoming year. But if you only look at your revenue and expenses year by year, you are unlikely to make investments in your business that take longer to achieve results. Short-term thinking means losing out on long-term opportunities.

A while back I spoke on the topic of The Vital Role of Marketing in Succession Planning and the main takeaway from that program is that no matter what stage your business is at, marketing is a long-term investment that can make your business more valuable in ways you probably never imagined. To really make the most of your marketing, consider how it can help you achieve these goals:

1. Increase referrals. Many professionals don’t invest in marketing because they feel that referrals are the best source of business. However, marketing helps you stay top of mind with your network of contacts. We all meet people every day and it can be hard to remember who does what. Also, we often know more than one person who does the same kind of work. If you want to be the one your contacts remember to refer, you must constantly keep in touch with them and networking is not enough to do that. You need other methods like email, social media, writing and speaking, public relations and other methods.

2. Develop a more valuable and diverse client base. One of the variations of the 80-20 rule says that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your clients. That can be dangerous to a business especially if you have an aging client base or a niche that may not be as lucrative anymore. You need to think about where your business is headed well in advance of those changes. If you wait until the clients are already dropping off, you will be playing catch up and spending a lot of money when you don’t have it coming in. Remember too that if your business seems to be stagnating, it will be less appealing to potential clients, employees, partners and buyers. Marketing can help you develop a more diverse and profitable client base that will enable you to continue growing into the future.

3. Brand your firm with a separate identity. You can also use marketing to develop a distinct “brand” for your firm. This is particularly important for small firms where the practice and business development are based on the efforts and reputation of 1 or 2 people. If the plan is to eventually sell the business, it won’t be as valuable to a buyer if the practice is closely linked to one individual and there is a risk that clients will leave once that person goes. Developing a firm brand helps to separate the key people from the business and make the business more attractive to others.

4. Improve employee recruitment, engagement and retention. Marketing can help you attract new employees and get them more involved with your business. Millennials in particular are looking for workplaces where they feel their ideas and contributions matter and there are opportunities for advancement. Your marketing can communicate to existing and prospective employees that you offer a workplace and culture that will appeal to them. Social media is an especially good way to humanize your business to employees. In addition, encourage employees to get involved in marketing the firm. Help them to help you by instructing them on how to grow their network and present themselves and the firm.

5. Attract potential partners/successors/buyers. Businesses that commit to marketing are demonstrating to the world that they are actively looking to grow. That’s important especially if you are nearing retirement and/or considering your exit strategy. Even the process of developing a marketing plan itself can make your firm more valuable. If you were thinking about buying into a business, wouldn’t you be pleased to see it had a written marketing plan that shows what the owners have been doing to market the business; that they have marketing policies and procedures set up and could demonstrate what successes they have had with marketing?

So, if you are a business owner who is forward-thinking, who’s grooming the next generation or looking for new opportunities or successors to continue the success of your business, you should invest in marketing.

Interested in the long-term growth of your business? Contact us for a consultation.

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