How do I demonstrate 2016 marketing ROI

Work with a business marketing consultant

You’ve worked hard to build the business success you enjoy today and you’ve budgeted for marketing as a way to grow your business in 2015 and beyond. Great job. But you really want/need to demonstrate 2016 marketing ROI and align the cost of your marketing efforts to the revenue they generate. Before we go there, let’s take a step back to review the work you’ve already done to achieve your 2016 goals:

Now, here’s some advice on how to demonstrate 2016 marketing ROI.

Marketing ROIWhen calculating ROI, it’s important to remember that the results from any business initiative can vary. You may consider the cost of your marketing efforts a loss if they don’t produce any attributable results. Or, your return on investment may be in the millions of dollars in the value of leads from a lead generation website.

Marketing initiatives are an investment. And like any smart investment, they need to be measured and monitored to ensure you’re spending your money wisely. A comprehensive marketing strategy will have a life span of about 5 years, with flexibility that allows for rapidly changing business trends. When measuring, be sure to spread your costs and revenue over your strategy’s expected lifespan.

Every company will have specific metrics for measuring their marketing performance, and this can vary from one industry to the next. But we can apply a basic general formula to measure almost any marketing initiative’s profitability: total costs vs total revenue over the lifespan of the deliverables (brand identity, content strategy, website, social presence, email campaigns, etc.).

What are your total costs?

These are estimated costs that a small business or organization can expect to incur during a comprehensive and integrated marketing engagement with a business marketing consultant:

  1. Objective initial marketing assessment of current efforts – $2-5,000
  2. Integrated brand, content, website, communications, marketing strategy – $3-6,000
  3. Lead generation website, social media presence, email campaigns along with execution plans and documentation – $40-60,000
  4. Content calendar and development by copywriter – $2-5,000

Total one-time costs – $47-76,000

In addition, there will be general maintenance costs that can be a relatively low, particularly if you keep basic website updates in house. Still, if your staff is already stretched too thin and they’re not ready to become content marketing experts, retaining your marketing consultant to provide these services can increase opportunity costs and maintain the value of your initial investment by ensuring high-quality content, image and SEO updates.

  1. A medium size hosting package – $600/yr
  2. 2 domain name – $15/yr
  3. Copywriter to produce 1 blog post/mo @ $100/post – $1,200/yr
  4. 2 hours/mo @ $150/hr for web updates and maintenance  – $3,600/yr

Total annual maintenance costs – $5415 (x 5 years) = $27,075

Total costs over 5-year lifespan = $74, 075 – 103,075

What is your revenue? There are two types of revenue to consider:

  1. Potential Revenue, which measures how many opportunities/visitors your website, social media and email campaigns generate that correlate with your marketing efforts. This won’t factor into ROI directly, but it will help determine how much opportunity you could be missing out on.
  2. Actual Revenue, which measures the leads your efforts generate that convert into business. This number may be easier to determine with a B2C than for a B2B company or other organization. Still, B2B companies can often determine the source of leads and business by simply asking the question.

You’ll need to determine these revenue numbers for your organization and do the math to determine your own ROI.

Now, you know it’s not going to be as easy as hiring a business marketing consultant, then sitting back to watch the money roll in. There is a lot of work to do. But you’re committed to engaging on the project to expand awareness of your brand in the marketplace in 2016. That means:

  1. ongoing content creation and distribution to get results in search engines; we know that search engine marketing is generally slow
  2. boosting website traffic with targeted email and social network engagement
  3. following up on online engagement with offline contact to continue the conversation and build relationships

A few final thoughts on 2016 marketing ROI

First, an integrated marketing initiative is not a place to save money. The difference between a $20k and a $30k price tag might seem high, but a thorough strategy and plan will produce dramatically better results than hiring your family friend to create a simple WordPress website, which can translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue over time.

Second, companies often slash their marketing budgets during tough times – a dangerous move since marketing is an investment to produce revenue. By focusing on accurate ROI measurements relevant to your business, you recognize that marketing is NOT a fluffy expense that can be cut when times get tough. To get it right, re-commit to your business success by hiring a business marketing consultant who is as passionate about your business as you are.

The zen of hiring a business marketing consultant

10 questions to ask a business marketing consultant

You’re laser-focused on serving your clients and your staff is overloaded with the day-to-day of running your business. You’ve worked hard to build the business success you enjoy today and you understand the cost of the business you’re not getting because you have yet to commit to a go-to-market plan of action. You’re ready to put your non-action-plan in the past.

You’ve considered the 5 REAL Benefits of Working with a Business Marketing Consultant, and studied the 3 Questions Answered: WHY Should I Hire a Business Marketing Consultant from your own business perspective. You’re confident and you’re ready.

What’s my first step? When you’re ready to hire a Business Marketing Consultant, re-commit to the success of your business by recognizing the importance of being thoughtfully engaged on the project. Yes, your consultant is the expert at marketing, but no one knows your business like you do. Spending time on strategy and planning – and providing thoughtful feedback when asked – prevents eleventh hour questions, doubts, anxiety and changes that ultimately cost you more. I hate to break it to you. Consultants aren’t miracle workers or mind readers. Your commitment to active engagement on the project is critical to its success.

10 questions to ask a potential business marketing consultantWho is the BEST Business Marketing Consultant for my business? A truly effective Business Marketing Consultant has a diverse background in business, strategy and implementation of many types of marketing initiatives. Experience in your specific industry isn’t as critical as the diversity of their experiences. It allows them to assess your current state from an objective perspective, and to help you define your need before building a strategic course of action to meet your goals.

Ask for recommendations from your peers and friends; search online, LinkedIn and other social networks; talk to references and meet a few face-to-face if you can. If you find one who is as passionate about their business as you are about yours, you’re on the right track. Use this list of 10 questions to ask a potential business marketing consultant to guide your conversation.

Who IS NOT the BEST Business Marketing Consultant? Just because someone can build a website in WordPress doesn’t mean they have the requisite business acumen to craft and integrate a reputable brand message into a dynamic website, along with an engaging social media presence, and targeted communications plan, all singularly focused on driving your business success. Go ahead and bring a web developer friend of the family on board. Bringing the next generation of professionals to the table adds depth of skill and diversity of perspective. Just make sure your friend is professional and understands their role.

That’s it. You’re business is on it’s way to becoming an even bigger success. Not sooner or later, right now; with greater certainty, control and sustainability. Way to go! But you’re still going to want proof that your marketing efforts are worth it, aren’t you? We’ll talk about that next in the fourth and final part in this series, “How do I demonstrate 2016 marketing ROI?

WHY should I hire a business marketing consultant?

3 questions answered

You know you should be doing more to expand your visibility in the marketplace, but you’re laser-focused on serving your clients and your staff is overloaded with the day-to-day of running your business. We’ve explored 5 REAL Benefits of Working with a Business Marketing Consultant, and you’ve come to realize that there is a cost associated with not investing wisely in an objective marketing assessment, strategy, and plan of action that will keep your business front of mind with your target audience.

But you have some questions. So do many people in your position. Here answers to three of the questions I hear most often:

3 Questions Answered: Why should I hire a business marketing consultant

  1. Why do I need a Business Marketing Consultant? You probably don’t. You’re successful already. Sooner or later, you will be an even bigger success. Maybe later. With a Business Marketing Consultant you can get there sooner, with greater certainty, control and sustainability.
  2. Can’t I just do some marketing on my own? Of course. You know your business like no one else. You know your clients, your target audience. You know their fears; their pain points and you know how to help them. You can have someone on staff create a LinkedIn Company page, send a few emails, update your website, maybe Tweet now and again. But what is your unified message? Are your efforts sufficient to reach your audience where they are in a meaningful way? Do you know the cost of making marketing mistakes?
  3. What will I get for my time and money? You’ll have a trusted advisor to guide you through the initial assessment, strategy, planning and beyond. You will have an objective third-party tell you where you might be making mistakes that could be costly to your reputation, yet relatively easy to fix. You’ll understand where your marketing energies are best spent and why. And, you’ll receive clear guidelines to keep you and your staff operating as brand ambassadors indefinitely. Without this critical piece, momentum can wane almost immediately, minimizing the value of the entire project.

You still have questions don’t you? That’s great. Being actively engaged in the conversation before a project even begins is important. Before you decide to hire a Business Marketing Consultant, make sure you are committed to spending the requisite time to thoughtfully engage on the project. Yes, your consultant is the expert at marketing, but no one knows your business like you do.

If your next question is, “What’s my first step,” here’s a preview of what you’ll learn next time in

The Zen of Hiring a Business Marketing Consultant.

What’s my first step? Not spending time on strategy and planning – or providing thoughtful feedback when asked – often results in eleventh hour questions, doubts, anxiety and changes that ultimately cost you more. I hate to break it to you. Consultants aren’t miracle workers or mind readers. Your commitment to active engagement on the project is critical to its success.

5 real benefits of working with a marketing consultant

How to effectively market your business in 2016

market my business in 2015Does your 2016 budget include at least one line item for marketing? Great. You’re not alone. According to a 2014 Gartner survey, “Marketing expense budget is 10.2% of revenue in 2014 — half of the companies plan an increase in 2015.”

So congratulations on recognizing the need. But what’s next? If you’re not sure where to begin and don’t have time to figure it out on your own, your first step should be to bring in a business marketing consultant who can point you in the right direction. Doing so at the outset will help you get the most out of your marketing dollars, saving you time, resources and money.

This 4-part series features actionable advice on how to effectively market your business in 2016 with the support of a business marketing consultant. Let’s begin by identifying:

5 REAL Benefits of Working with a Marketing Consultant

You’ve worked hard to build your business, to cultivate a reputation and build a client base that trusts you. You know you should be doing more to expand your visibility in the marketplace, but you’re laser-focused on serving your clients, and your staff is already overloaded with day-to-day tasks. Even if you do have the budget, you’re not sure where to begin marketing your business.

Let’s start with some very REAL benefits of working with an experienced business marketing consultant.

  1. Beginning with an objective third-party assessment of where you are NOW helps to quickly clarify where you want to go and how to get there.
    market my business in 2015
  2. An informed business marketing strategy provides a compass for everything else you do, determining which mediums will be most effective connecting with your audience.
    NOTE: Content Marketing Institute’s 2014 B2B research revealed one key theme, “If you want to be more effective at content marketing, document your strategy.”
  3. Just as the strategy is your compass, the marketing plan is a road map; for tackling your strategy in a logical order, with one step building the foundation for the next with maximum impact and value.
    NOTE: The preliminary assessment, strategy and planning keep overall cost down by focusing your marketing efforts on the tactics and channels that will have the most impact.
  4. Through documentation and training, you and your staff will operate as brand ambassadors long after a consulting engagement has ended.
  5. A well-rounded marketing consultant can provide ongoing advice and support for your unique strategy and plan, filling gaps in your internal team as needed, ensuring maximum impact and value.

Let’s get REAL: How much does a Business Marketing Consultant cost?

The most expensive course you can take is to continue down a path that isn’t maximizing your returns for the time, talent, and resources you are expending. I’m not being glib when I tell people your Business Marketing Consultant is not a cost; she’s an investment. What you pay for an investment isn’t as relative as what you get in return. Ask yourself what it is costing you now for the business you are not getting?

Next time, we’ll have answers to the question,

WHY Should I Hire a Business Marketing Consultant?”

Trust Me!

There are times when I’ve said this to someone and could actually see the doubt on their face. But why would telling someone they can trust you immediately invoke the opposite response? Because we’ve learned that only those who can’t be trusted have to ask for it. We know that trust is something you have or don’t have without being told, so any attempt to convince us works against our understanding of what trust is.

Trust is based on a number of factors, none the least of which is consistently meeting or exceeding expectations. For my clients, that means that the information I gather about their organization during the course of our relationship is used solely for the intended purpose; to build and execute marketing initiatives that grow their business. If instead, I were to pass that information on to someone else who used it to solicit other types of business from them, I would have broken their trust and would expect never to work with them again.

Case in point, a recent survey by marketing firm Placecast, conducted online by Harris Interactive, and reported on, shows that 81% of consumers are comfortable with grocery stores using past-purchase information tailor the coupon offers you receive, but only 33% were comfortable with Facebook using profile information for targeted ads (Facebook, Google Less Trusted than your grocery store [Study]). Online merchants like – although only a few years older than Facebook according to the story  – has earned the trust of their user base to provide them offers and search results based on past purchases, where Facebook users are still leery about privacy and other uses of their data.

This makes sense. I go to my local grocery store – or to Amazon for that matter – in order to buy something I want or need. I’m thrilled when they give me coupons for items I buy regularly and when they suggest other products I might like based on what I’ve bought in the past. In fact, I expect it. I trust this because it’s what I expect from them. Expect + Deliver = Trust

For me, I spend time on Facebook to connect with family and friends, so I appreciate it when I see an ‘ad’ that recommends people I might want to connect with based on my location and current connections. I trust these because they meet my expectations based on my purpose for being on Facebook, and they validate how Facebook uses my profile information.

On the other hand, I don’t go to Facebook to shop. So I don’t expect (or want) to see ads for diapers just because I have several Facebook friends who are mommies and they ‘Like’ Huggies’ Facebook page. You see the difference. I understand that Facebook’s ad revenue is what keeps them in business. But as the study reveals, they still haven’t earned the trust of a majority of their users when it comes to using their personal information in ways they didn’t expect (or want). Maybe an ‘ad-free option’ would be appealing for Facebook users who base their trust on expectations met.

What’s Next? Trust as a key to small business success means reviewing your marketing materials from the perspective of your audience. Review your marketing and/or advertising materials including email, social media posts and website content. Don’t overlook the simple things like, 1) does the title of your website landing page match the link in your email or Facebook? 2) does all forms function correctly, 3) do all forms provide a ‘successful confirmation’ message, etc. Does the overall experience meet or exceed expectations?

fake content as a marketing strategy

What does a day of spoofs, pranks and general tomfoolery have to do with marketing for small business? Quite a lot actually, no joke.


Most of my favorite spoofs this year were videos of fake Google product launches like Google Tap (Morse code makes a comeback) and Gmail motion (love the lick a stamp motion to send) above. It’s understandable that Google would get into the game. They’re giant. They have hundreds of creative people on staff, and they have the means to produce realistic videos to sell their spoof.

On the other end of the spectrum is eyeglass purveyor Warby Parker, turned Warby Barker for the day, a relatively small business in comparison. Yet their website and video about a new line of eyewear for dogs was brilliant in its concept and execution. So much so that this niche brand made several national Top 10 April Fools’ lists. As a result, this relatively obscure company has found widespread exposure to a social media savvy and brand conscious audience. Not a bad marketing strategy for a small business.

Then there’s The Washington Post blog post titled, ‘Romney Drops Out of Race, Endorses Santorum’. Google’s sophisticated search engine failed to notice it was a spoof, and for a short time, the story led the top-breaking news headlines on Google News. Shortly after, The Washington Post took down the page and quickly explained it as a prank gone wrong. Still, both the original spoof and the steps taken to correct it, brought widespread exposure for the news source that typical Sunday morning headlines would not have achieved.

Now, I don’t think April Fools’ content was the highest priority in the content strategies for any of these businesses. Still, these clever bits of ‘fake content’ are a fun way for me to illustrate the importance of a content strategy for small business.

A content strategy is as important to marketing for small business as anything else you do. Content is how your audience gets to know you, what you do, what others think about you, and most importantly, why they want to work with you rather than your competitors. Content comes in all shapes and sizes including emails, website content and images, advertisements, even your business cards. But, the content you put on your social media sites (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.) is what broadens your reach like nothing else can.

So, what lessons can we learn from the best of this year’s April Fools’ spoofs as far as marketing for small business is concerned?

  1. content is king – Your reputation is built on trust, and as a rule, speaking the truth is at the heart of that trust. Still, in the right context, a little ‘fake’ content goes much further than no content at all.
  2. humanize your brand – This marketing catchphrase, made popular primarily by Facebook Timeline for brand pages, basically means connecting with each customer on a human level. How better to show your small business is human, than through humor.

What’s Next? If content still isn’t a part of your marketing strategy, make that a priority TODAY. Be sure that your human side shows through in all your day-to-day business operations.

8 remarkable qualities

The 8 qualities of remarkable employeesIn “the 8 qualities of remarkable employees“, @Jeff_Haden from Inc. goes beyond the typical ‘good to great’ employee traits, to identify ‘remarkable’ qualities that have a major impact on performance. It’s an interesting list. He identifies behaviors like ‘ignoring job descriptions’, ‘speaking when others won’t’ and ‘always fiddling’ as ways remarkable employees make things better, simply just because they can’t help it. These are traits that make people, and one could argue, the companies that encourage these qualities, remarkable.

Yet, leadership at many large companies still tends to discourage this type of remarkable behavior and continues to reward mediocrity and conformity. How many of you have walked away from that environment – either by your choice or someone else’s – because you were stifled by the restrictions of a job description, were shushed when creatively thinking out loud in a meeting at your ‘real job’, in order to start your own business? How many of you still spend what little free time you have tinkering with something simply because you want to build a better mouse trap?

As a small business owner with one or more of these traits, you’re not confined to being merely good or great. So ask yourself, am I cultivating these traits in myself and others? Let yourself be remarkable in the pursuit of your small business success.

Next Steps: Consider these 8 qualities from an entrepreneurial perspective. Discuss them with your staff individually and as a group – encouraging an open and honest discussion – and let the room come up with ways to promote remarkable behaviors towards personal and company success.

wild + crazy dreams of success

Julie Umnus local marketing advisorWhat was your last wild + crazy dream of professional success? Some people dream of simply being wealthy with no backstory on how they attained their success. For others, dreams of success can be frightening. They might consider their dreams unattainable or beyond their social status. In many cases, the end result is the same: no action, and no movement towards realizing that dream.

Yet these dreams might actually help us set our direction and our priorities. They can give us something exciting to strive for: dreams can motivate. The flip side is that if we don’t dream, we can become indecisive, strive for nothing, and become disengaged.

Today I achieved one of my dreams by launching my own website. In my dreams, the website brings me new clients, new partners, and opens the door to realizing many more dreams of success.

What’s Next? Consider your own dreams of success. Is there one thing that you are more passionate about than anything else? Really think about what’s stopping you from achieving it? Answer these questions, and you’ll know what you need to put on your to-do list.

eye + ear catching messages

This past Sunday was the Super Bowl – of advertising. The ads are considered the cream of the crop in the advertising world. So what, if anything, can we learn from those ads and those advertisers?

In general, effective messaging shares a number of key attributes:

  • the message fits the intended audience (I’m guessing a lot of dog owners watch football)
  • it stands out from the other messages in the space (Bueller? Bueller?)
  • the message is clear (what were those dogs barking about?)
  • the message is memorable (Clint Eastwood’s Chrysler halftime ad – YAY America)
  • the message helps define the brand (Drew Brees + son for Chase Quickpay, better than the showing friends splitting the dinner check)
  • the message is free of silly mistakes (I honestly didn’t notice any, let’s hope not)

This is common sense, right? Still, how many times does our ‘message’ in proposals, resumes, emails, even live conversations, does our message truly measure up? We’ve become lazy, relying on boilerplate, corporate-speak that is irrelevant at best.

What’s Next? It’s not just in business communications where we can improve our message, but all of our communications: from simple emails (watch out for ‘your’ versus ‘you’re”), to resumes (is yours up to date, does it have a human voice), to complex proposals (did you spell the client’s name right, did you come right out and tell them why you’re the best). Starting today, make sure that whatever you say or write catches the eye + ear of the audience. Before you deliver it, run it through the checklist above.