Growing companies need to concentrate on what they do best—which, often, isn't marketing.

Worse yet, paid advertising, direct mail, publicity and event sponsorships are only a few of the channels vying for your marketing dollar. Today's information explosion and proliferation of media outlets add to the squeeze on marketing budgets.

Taking cues from consumer marketing and tested marketing strategies, consider these six ways to increasing your marketing return on investment (ROI):

1. Planning. To reap marketing ROI, the cost of entry is a good marketing plan. The plan needs to incorporate your company's mission and sales and marketing objectives. It profiles your markets and target audiences and identifies your marketing tactics.

Marketing tactics are the individual marketing channels and types of advertising, as well as publicity and marketing initiatives, that will best convey your messages to your markets, achieve sales goals and maintain brand awareness.

Remember, the dog wags the tail: affirm marketing and sales objectives, plan strategy, then select marketing tactics. It's an ongoing cycle.

2. Making a market. What new markets can you create for your brand, product or service? Sometimes new products or services happen spontaneously.

In the 1999 movie Office Space, Milton, a harassed office worker, is bothered by coworkers who pilfer his bright red stapler. Swingline turned down a movie tie-in offer by the film's producers because it didn't make such a stapler and wasn't convinced of the demand. Three years later, out of sheer demand, Swingline put its Rio Red Stapler on the market.

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Marcia Jedd is president of MJ & Associates (