Determining the most effective use of marketing dollars can be a challenge for even the most experienced marketers. Female business owners face unique challenges.
A report from the Institute of Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) shows that 29 percent of America’s business owners are women, a 3% increase since 1997. While female-owned businesses are rising, a pay gap still exists. Data from the Economic Policy Institute shows women-owned businesses make only about 25 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn.
This can translate to less dollars to put towards marketing and make navigating potential marketing and advertising decisions even more difficult.
Here are four tips to help female business owners dive into the world of marketing.
Understand your brand and buyer
As a business owner, you can be certain you’ll meet sales and media reps from a variety of outlets. Knowing which outlet is best can be intimidating. Before making decisions about your marketing budget, it’s important to be sure you are reaching the right audience. To do this, you need to understand your brand and your buyer. I recommend defining your brand’s voice and values, and creating user personas to better understand your buyers. Personas will give you a better feel for who your ideal client is and what their day to day is like. Understanding your brand and your buyer will help you to choose media outlets that best align with your audience.
Know your value
Don’t get stuck in the “exposure” trap. When working with job seekers and recent graduates, I often hear of instances where they are asked for free photography, design or product in exchange for exposure. The same is true of entrepreneurs. As you start, you’ll receive countless opportunities (or “opportunities”) to showcase your product or service for free in exchange for visibility that may or may not resonate with potential buyers.
Value your brand and offerings from the beginning. If you launch with giving too much away, you’ll have a tougher time convincing buyers you are worth your asking price.
If you are offering products or services for free, make sure the opportunity aligns with your brand and would make sense to your targeted buyers.
Define your expectations
Whether you are considering a sponsorship, a print ad or a boosted Facebook post, ask yourself:
Does this medium align with my brand and buyers?
Will it showcase my value?
What do I expect the result to be?
If you can answer yes to the first two questions, realistically define what you expect the outcome to be and how you will measure success. If the expected outcome matches with your overall goals, the marketing activity may be a good fit.
Analyze your results
As with any business decision, it’s important to analyze the results of your marketing efforts. Be flexible with your plan. What worked in the winter may not work in the summer. By having re-determined expectations, it’s easy to see if your marketing efforts met those expectations. If not, it’s time to look at why. Perhaps your message was off and could be tweaked a bit, or you promoted an offer that was confusing to your audience. If slight adjustments don’t work, it may be time to move onto the next outlet. If you aren’t sure where to turn, ask your customers! A quick survey asking your customers where they shop, what sites they browse, what they read and what they watch will help you see patterns in consumer behavior. It can also spark ideas to make your next campaign more successful.
While marketing and media consumption are ever-changing, you know your brand the best. Keep fine tuning your activities to get the most out of your marketing dollars, and always be bold!
Kate Ewing joined Mueller Prost in 2016 as the Director of Marketing and Practice Growth and brought with her over 15 years of marketing experience in a variety of different industries. Ewing’s primary focus is to drive business results through developing and implementing marketing, communications, and business development strategies for the firm. Kate also directs media relations, branding, advertising, social media, and web development and oversees sponsorships and contributions.
Ewing is an adjunct marketing professor for Webster University. In addition, she is very active in community and professional organizations, serving on several boards and acting as a mentor to other professionals. Researching current marketing trends and challenges is a priority for Kate, allowing her to provide the firm with intelligence and perspective that is key to sustaining our growth and branding.