Colette Gandelot of Vujovich Design-Build gets a lot of mileage out of her $30,000 annual marketing budget. The sales and marketing manager has boosted the profile of the $6 million-a-year firm and cemented essential relationships in Minneapolis. She does so by setting marketing goals, then delivering on them. Her formula is simple and effective:
Understand your limitations. By doing so, you can set realistic objectives. And, by doing a self-assessment, you may realize you need to hire outside help, such as a photographer, to enhance program success and to get other creative minds working for the company.
Achieve consistency. Set up your year to achieve maximum effectiveness with those who see your message. While a monthly direct mail piece may be most effective, it may not be realistic or take into account your limitations. Done quarterly, or in chunks, the message will be conveyed and be consistent.
Spend more time implementing than creating. Don't drown in planning. The marketing plan can change -- it's a guide, not a bible. Ultimately, you need to do the work.
Share your plan internally. Make sure marketing is discussed in team meetings. Members of the field staff are the most important part of Gandelot's programs. "They hear the customer's voice every day. And there are many of them, and only one of you." Field staff contact neighbors, asking for tolerance during a project. They become advocates, answering questions from passersby. "Marketing happens in many ways, and when everyone talks about it, it becomes part of the action your company takes," Gandelot says.
Make your plan automatic. Program marketing reminders into your electronic calendar or jot them in your day planner. Include calls to home section editors at the local paper. Gandelot contacts editors monthly for "relationship-based marketing," which promotes the company and its projects for free. "Most people, when they think of marketing, they think of ... something they pay for," she says. "That doesn't have to be the case."
Measure results. Ask your clients about your latest mailer. Did it convey what you wanted it to say? Assess results quarterly, and make the bottom-line connection. "Obviously the greatest measure of success," Gandelot says, "is how many people call." But the quality of the leads is important, as well. If people aren't calling, find out what's wrong. Gandelot uses ACT! lead tracking software to keep track of and analyze who's calling and why, constantly assessing lead sources. Then, she uses the data to target specific neighborhoods.