How to Make Smart Marketing Decisions

Small business owners can spend a lot of time and money on marketing initiatives. Sometimes we’re successful and sometimes not so much.

I think of marketing as an experiment because – really – there are no magic bullets. There are best practices, there is good and bad advice, there are lots of experts and gurus. But we, the business owners, have to make the final decisions and… live with the results.

Marketing isn’t cheap (even if it’s our own time) and poor decision-making can hurt more than our wallets. Our reputation may also be at risk.

So, how do we make decisions about things we have little experience with? How can we possibly know what all of our options might be when it comes to getting a new website? Or knowing which social media platforms will work best? Or building a content strategy? We can’t… unless we put some extra effort into it.

Step #1: Clearly identify the decision that needs to be made. Sometimes it’ll be staring you in the face but other times you may have to dig for the underlying problem.

Step #2: Figure out what information is needed and how to get it. This is the tricky part because you don’t know what you don’t know. Do research – online and off. Check multiple sources.

Step #3: Develop options. If you only have one option, the decision may be as simple as yes or no. Rarely is anything that simple. Stretch for alternatives that don’t come immediately to mind.

Step #4: Evaluate options. Now we need to work through each option, identify pros/cons, risks, and costs. This will likely require doing more research. Ditch options that won’t meet the needs identified in step #1.

Step #5: Select the best option. After all that evaluation in step #4, this may be obvious. If it’s not, sort and rank your options from best to worst. You might also combine options.

Step #6: Implement the decision. Perhaps it’s a fast credit card purchase or maybe you’ll need a detailed plan. Once you’ve made the decision, make progress.

Step #7: Learn from the decision. Did it turn out to be the right decision? Would another option have been better? We can’t change the past but we can learn from our successful and unsuccessful actions. We can learn to make better decisions in the future. Like most things, practice makes us better.