A few weeks ago I was eavesdropping on a conversation between 2 successful business owners (both of whom I know) at an Open House for a friend’s new office.
One has built up a huge business that serves clients locally in over 40 markets around the U.S. We’ll call her Jill.
The other has built up a successful business that just operates locally here in St. Louis – among the largest in his industry. We’ll call him Mark.
Jill was asking Mark about what he’s doing marketing-wise, specifically online, and the conversation went like this:
Mark: We have a guy that’s doing some things online for us.
Jill: What’s he doing?
Mark: Some SEO and some PPC.
Jill: How much are you spending on PPC?
Mark: I’m not really sure. I think we budget about $500 a month.
Jill: Are you getting any business from it?
Mark (unsure): I think so.
Jill: If you are, how come you’re not spending more money on it?
Mark: That’s just what we budgeted for it.
Jill: But if you’re spending $500 on it and it’s getting you customers, why would you cap what you’re spending? Why wouldn’t you keep spending more to get more customers?
Mark (a little uncomfortable at this point): I don’t know, that’s just what we have budgeted.
Jill: I’m spending about 300 times what you are each month on PPC and we track all our leads carefully and know that the campaign is profitable so we keep spending more and more because we know it’s getting us more and more clients.
Mark: Well, I don’t really know if it’s getting us clients or not.
Jill: Are you tracking calls from your PPC campaign?
Mark: No, we can’t do that.
Jill: Sure you can. You can use call tracking.
Mark (getting a little defensive at this point): I don’t want to do that because if a client keeps that tracking number, they won’t be able to reach us if they try to call us again in the future.
Let’s stop things right there.
There are 2 concepts about marketing that Mark (again, the owner of a very successful business) still doesn’t understand… and he’s not alone.
The first is the idea of marketing as an investment.
If you had an investment of any kind that was generating $1.50 or $2 or $5 for every dollar you put in, would you cap how much money you’d invest if you can keep getting that same return?
Of course not!
Why is your marketing any different?
Any budget you assign to your marketing is a STARTING POINT. It’s a number you’re comfortable with losing (only if your marketing campaign is a total flop… which can, and does, happen).
But think of this initial investment as R&D (research and development). This is money you put out there to see if prospects respond to your marketing campaign.
If they do, you can start trying to improve and expand your campaign (ie. invest more into it) so it generates more leads and clients for you.
If they don’t, then you can try different messaging, a different kind of campaign, etc. to find something that does work.
But here’s the key to all of this… YOU HAVE TO BE TRACKING AND MEASURING YOUR RESULTS!!
If you’re a local business owner that means tracking leads for EVERY contact form or lead form you have on your site.
It also means using call tracking because most of your leads are going to come by phone.
And that leads to the 2nd concept that Mark didn’t understand.
It’s regarding call tracking.
First, you can sign up for call tracking numbers and hold onto them as long as you want to. So if you’re worried about clients calling an old tracking number that doesn’t ring at your office, that doesn’t have to be the case.
Call tracking numbers are pretty cheap these days. In fact, if all you want to track is the total number of leads you’re getting, you can get a local tracking number from Twilio for $1 a month + $0.0075 a minute. At that price, there’s no reason to ever give that number up!
Even if there WAS a risk that Mark loses that number, is it really that big a deal? By using a call tracking number, Mark would have a clear picture of which marketing campaigns are working for him and which ones are not.
In fact, if he were to use Dynamic Call tracking on his AdWords campaigns (like we use for our clients) he’d be able to pinpoint the EXACT keywords and ads that are making his phone ring!
Think about how valuable that data is… it would allow Mark to stop spending money on ineffective advertising campaigns, keywords and ads.
And he’d be able to take that money he saved and invest it into the advertising campaigns, keywords and ads that ARE bringing in new clients.
With this information he’d have the information he needs to grow his client base and business even more.
Isn’t that MORE than worth the risk of losing your call tracking number and having a few clients here and there who aren’t able to track down your contact info?
Mark is a smart business owner and a great salesman. Just one look at the company he’s built and you can see that.
But even smart business owners have blind spots. And Mark’s blind spots when it comes to marketing are the same ones that many business owners have.
As Mark has proved, you can build an impressive business without treating marketing as an investment and carefully tracking your leads.
But I’d say he’s the exception rather than the rule.
Marketing comes down to the numbers. Get to know yours and watch the investment in your marketing lead to many happy returns.