marketing dollarsJust like everything else in this world the Internet is constantly changing. Ten, even 5 years ago online marketing was a cheaper and easier alternative to market your business and products when compared to traditional print or media campaigns. Now, that isn’t the case. More businesses are dumping more dollars into the online marketing landscape and competition is fierce and ad spend is only going up.

While many of these projects can seem exciting and fun to do they also come at a price. So the smart small business owner who is trying to stretch his budget and still stay in the game has to be careful about how he spends his limited marketing dollars but he wants to be effective in his approach at the same time. Inc nailed it when they said the power of effective marketing, “requires understanding the many tools that are out there and the knowledge and skill to use them well. Only then can you see consistent ROI on your marketing dollar.”

While it would be impossible for me to create a turn-key marketing strategy suitable for every small business, I can provide a few tips to help you target your marketing efforts more effectively:

Always Focus on the Customer!

Many marketing experts will tell you that people are more likely to buy when the offer is tailor-made to their needs, and these marketing experts would be right. While generic products may have their use in society, the majority of people want to believe that their choices of purchases have been based on filling a specific need just for them. In order to do this effectively you need to learn what your visitors are really looking for. This sounds easy, but many companies miss the mark by not truly answering the questions that their customers have.

How do find out what your customers are really looking for in your website? That’s a good question. Have you tried asking them? One thing that can really help you create content that speaks to your audience is by implementing surveys. In fact, in setting up an eCommerce site it would be the first thing I do after launch. Many of you have probably already heard about services like SurveyMonkey; which allow you to run surveys on your site in order to collect valuable information that will often times pinpoint exactly what might be wrong with your site. You will also get immediate insights into your site from a usability standpoint.

Keep It Simple

I’m guilty of cramming butt loads of information onto a page for seo purposes, but more often than not, the simpler your page is the easier it will be to not only navigate, but to motivate. Consider the visitor’s time and provide just enough of the right information to move them to the next action. In this now generation people don’t like to have to wade through endless amounts of data that are unrelated to what they are looking for. When your website is full of too much crap like popups, images and convoluted copy it may become too confusing or even too irritating to move on. If your visitor becomes discouraged they will move on to another website.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

When it comes to marketing, there’s simply no way around the fact that it’s going to take an investment in time and if you’re not careful you could rack up a pretty hefty bill. But if you are careful and analyze your strategies first you will soon realize that everything doesn’t work for everyone and certainly don’t start by putting all of your eggs in one basket. If something is working well for you then you should spend your time trying to figure out how to capitalize on that. However, if it is not, then it is time for a change. Skyhawk Studios makes a great point, “If something is working, stick with it. If your ad copy is working, use it on your website or sales brochure. Get maximum use from your tried-and-true content. After all, Nike has been using “Just Do It” for 25 years. Capitalize on the equity you have in your existing logo, branding, and key product benefits.”

In light of today’s constant flood of content on the internet it is more important than ever for small businesses to focus on the quality they get for their marketing dollars.