When considering avenues for marketing, the list is endless. You can invest money in a number of off-line places: radio ads, TV spots, billboards, magazine ads, newspaper ads, trade publications, community event sponsorship, public transportation ads, strategic partnerships, giveaways, etc.

The addition of online marketing has opened up a number of new doors: website development, email advertising, banner ads, pay-per-click ads, strategic link partnerships, search engine optimization, social networking, directory submissions, and the list goes on.

So where should you spend your money? The obvious answer is to spend it where you get the most return. The harder part of that is to determine what will bring the best return for you.

Doing your research before investing will help. In most any industry you can get averages of how much return a particular investment will bring. But these can vary from industry to industry. For some, TV spots might produce a better return than a direct mail campaign, while others will get more mileage out of radio ads than magazine ads.

The key component here is testing. Test various forms of advertising/marketing your business. Be sure your tracking mechanisms are in place so you'll know what each produces. Track the money spent and the immediate to long-term results of each campaign. Start with what you know produces the best return in the shortest amount of time, then use the profits from that to test other avenues.

Sometimes a long-term investment is needed, such as search engine optimization, while pay-per-click advertising will bring more immediate results but usually with a lower return on investment overall. If you have the ability to invest long-term, then do that. If not, invest in short-term marketing avenues and allow those to bankroll the long-term investments later.

This is especially important if you are unsure of your business model. On more than one occasion I've told clients that they are not ready for our services because they were unsure if their business would work. My suggestion to them was invest in some immediate returning marketing strategies. If those work and business grows, then go all out and invest in the long-term strategies, especially if they bring in the ROI.

If the short term strategies don't work, analyze in order to understand why? Was it the marketing avenue or the business model? If multiple avenues fail it might be the business model, which means it's time for a new idea or a new approach.

It's been said that most business fail due to lack of investment money. If you have a good idea, a workable idea, be prepared to invest before seeing a return. If it's a model that will work, don't let a lack of funds stand between you and success, do what you have to do to invest where you need to invest. But invest wisely. The fewer mistakes you make in where you invest in your marketing campaigns, the more you'll have to invest in the avenues that pay out.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

November 3, 2006

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.

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