SAN FRANCISCO — When the subject of a marketing budget arises, it is natural to think first about the monetary cost of a sound marketing plan. However, beyond the dollar allocation, other resources must also be apportioned to this essential activity.

Time must be earmarked for analysis of the impact of various strategies and for the judicious allocation of funds between media and dissemination channels. Design talent must be provided for maximum impact of branding, coordination and immediate call-to-action when appropriate. Specific messaging and professional copywriting must be managed.

All aspects need to be considered to identify a realistic and effective approach to your optimal promotional plan.

Since customers are at the heart of the definition, targeting the “right” customers and prospects is key to a successful promotional effort. That is where science in the form of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is useful.

An example of AI starts with your POS system to identify your top customers, who are then profiled providing a description of those customers based on an extensive set of attributes.

Our experience indicates that less than 5% of the fabricare industry is taking advantage of these advanced marketing tools in a meaningful way.

TALENT PROCUREMENT

Who:

1. Directs your AI efforts to improve marketing efficiency and effectiveness?

2. Designs your creative images?

3. Writes your copy/blogs/newsletters?

4. Ensures that your branding is consistent across all platforms and media?

5. Updates your website and social media posts to keep them functioning at peak performance?

6. Plans the message calendar?

7. Determines and places the ad buys?

8. Tracks the results of your efforts?

9. Tweaks those efforts for better results in the future?

These all require highly unique professional skills to make your return on investment efficient.

Take a moment now to answer each staffing question above, individually, and determine if the choices are the most professional they can be for your organization. Each of these tasks can be accomplished internally or can be cost effectively outsourced.

For most cleaners, marketing will not be a full-time position. It can be filled by a staffer with other duties, but in most cases, they will not have the professional experience required. The alternatives include hiring freelancers or an agency, which includes significant initial and ongoing expense. Freelancers can fulfill the required roles on a part-time basis.

MEDIA ALLOCATION

Where your promotions run should be well coordinated across platforms. The target audience for the message will determine variations in the delivery and content, but all should be identifiable with your branding.

The media platform will vary depending upon the target for that particular message. You may be trying to expand the share-of-wallet of existing traditional customers, introduce non-traditional customers to your range of services that support their lifestyles, promote specific joint venture events such as “Birds of a Feather” fashion show; public service drives such as winter coats; and more. All have appropriate platforms, media, copy and graphics decisions involved.

Alonso Corona of Greene’s Cleaners describes the evolution of their marketing: “The way we have allocated our budget has completely changed to mostly digital. We do virtually no printed marketing pieces other than informational packets for sales calls and presentations, 98% digital, 2% printed.

“Our marketing approach is now very targeted and narrowed based on age, gender, lifestyle, demographic, geographic location, events, financial status, career position held, and many more. Our marketing is done on social media: Facebook, Instagram, twitter, LinkedIn, and in addition, with the use of Google analytics, email, and geo-fencing ads.

“This approach has helped increase sales and exposure to our target market, and I feel it has helped us stay relevant compared to the legacy blanketed marketing approach.”

Timing: Most respondents to our survey show they create their marketing plan once a year. This is an effective approach if there is flexibility built in to respond to changing trends and refined goals throughout the year. Reviews and refinements should be scheduled at least quarterly.

MEASURING RESULTS

Tracking results is critical to an effective and efficient promotional plan.

Branding campaigns can be measured by sales trend changes.

Kyle Matthews of Janet Davis Cleaners describes their tracking process as: “We choose our actual spending by doing our best to track each source to identify what works and what doesn’t. We ‘tag’ new customers who redeem coupons. Then we run reports later, utilizing these tags to see what sales were generated from each campaign each year.”

Marketing is serious business and should not be left to chance. The columnist gives a special thanks to everyone who participated in her marketing survey, both MFM and non-MFM members.

Make marketing a serious planning and budgeting priority and your business will reap serious rewards.

To read Part 1, go HERE.