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To Market Or Not To Market?
What Is Your Return On Investment?

By Stephanie Beck, Bon Vital Products Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Every company knows they need marketing. Unfortunately, most don't know how much they need it; in fact, many don't even know what works for them or how to measure results. But one thing everyone does know is that it costs money to make money and every business spends a certain amount each year on marketing in some form.

There are two things to consider: Are my marketing efforts getting me a direct return on my investment? Are my marketing efforts helping me build my brand? One you can track directly; the other is an investment in sustainable growth. In my opinion, both are necessary. However, not every company has the budget to run two-page spreads in all applicable publications 12 months of the year, or sponsor Webinars, or attend every tradeshow, or cover the Web with banner ads, etc. It can be intimidating when you start to really consider investing in marketing.

Once you decide to invest or to invest more, in marketing you have more decisions to make. At that point, the questions are where to advertise, how often to advertise, how to know if your advertising is working and which of the many marketing options are going to produce the best return.

I speak with countless business owners every day. Twenty percent of them tell me their marketing plan consists solely of "word of mouth" and in the same sentence wonder why their business is not as successful as they would like it to be. I'm not knocking word-of-mouth marketing; just keep in mind, most people gossip about what's done incorrectly. Whose business can really afford that type of marketing? I rarely hear about a company when things are done right. Think about it – no one else is going to build your business except you!

The main point is to consider all aspects of return on investment when deciding how to spend your marketing dollars. Speaking from recent experience, I can tell you the quantity of the leads produced is not as important as the quality of the leads. In the past 60 days, it has become very clear that different publications and marketing pieces will produce different results. In some cases the difference can be upwards of 20 times more ROI on one-third the amount of responses!

I have had the pleasure of working for a manufacturer that was considered the leader in the massage industry. At the time, they had been in business 20-plus years and had built a very well-known brand! The brand was established but the investment in marketing was still made. Now, I work for another manufacturer with essentially the same amount of time in the industry whose products have been one of the best-kept secrets in the massage industry. This was due simply to the fact that they had not taken full advantage of advertising and marketing opportunities through the years.

So, how do you know what's working if customers don't contact you directly? Working for a manufacturer that is focused on building brand awareness and sells through distributors and schools makes it very challenging to evaluate what is working and what is not. Most times you may not see the ROI for 30 to 60 days after the start of your marketing campaign. So make sure you commit your budget appropriately and allow for the sales to catch up to the marketing, especially if you're introducing a new product or company.

To know what works, every marketing or advertisement piece must have a tracking source code on it. If you sell through distributors, enlist their help in tracking. This will enable you to run reports months and years later to see how much the marketing produced, as well as how many NEW clients it brought you. Otherwise you will never know what is working.

For those of you "glass half empty" people, asking yourself, "Who is to say I wouldn't have gotten those customers without advertising?" Again, I speak from recent experience. After 25 years of doing the same thing, I made a change in how and where I advertised and did something different. By making the marketing investments we have, we learned a valuable lesson and reaping the rewards. The result was 20 times more ROI – and that says it all! But I wouldn't have known this without tracking.

If you're not marketing, there is no return, and if you are, track and evaluate your return on investment.

Stephanie Beck, has a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from Central Missouri State University and is Vice President  of Sales and Marketing for Bon Vital Products, she has been a Massage and Spa industry professional with over 16 years of sales and management experience. Stephanie has written in-depth protocols and taught several classes on spa treatments. She served on the ISPA Education Committee and a guest columnist for Massage Today.

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