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Commentary by Margaret Kelly

RISMEDIA, Oct. 27, 2007-Love it or hate it, an effective marketing plan can make or break your business. Great advertising equals power in the marketplace. Potential customers tend to relate your product, services and abilities to the ads they see. In other words, if you have a great campaign, they’ll probably have a better opinion of you-versus no opinion at all if they don’t know you exist.

The most important thing to remember is that the goal of marketing is to generate results for your business. If you don’t see benefits from a particular marketing expenditure, reconsider it. Advertising is expensive no matter where and how you do it. Having a balanced and effective strategy you can track is the best way to reach your audience while getting the most for your money.

Have a plan – Having no plan is a plan. It’s just not a very good one. Sit down and think about your budget and target audience (customers). Think about where else you could allocate funds, and who you want to notice your business.

Size it up – Develop a plan that stays within your financial and strategic guidelines. One suggestion is to set aside a set percentage of your annual net profit. As your business grows, so will your marketing budget.

Be consistent – Your marketing reaches a lot of people who don’t need you today. They need to know who you are, what services you provide and why you’re the best option for them-and they must be reminded on a regular basis.

Track your efforts – If you don’t know whether your ads are bringing in business, you have some work to do. Ask clients where they heard of you. Monitor incoming inquiries to learn if a promotional giveaway, yard sign or ad was responsible for the calls.

Focus on quality – Converting inquiries into real business is an important part of marketing. In other words, the quality of the leads matters more than the leads themselves.

Market online – While marketing online can be cost-effective, it is not necessarily the be-all-and-end-all of brand awareness. In fact, nearly three-fourths of respondents to Deloitte & Touche’s “State of the Media Democracy” study said they would rather read the printed version of a magazine even if they can get the same information online.

Does this mean you should cut off your online marketing efforts? Absolutely not. The message here is: Keep your campaign balanced.

Eliminate poor investments – Don’t keep marketing in a certain media or sponsoring events just because you always have. Take a hard look at your return on investment each year, and drop ineffective strategies. Keep your money where it will benefit you most.

Margaret Kelly, CRB, is chief executive officer of RE/MAX International. She joined RE/MAX as a financial analyst in 1987. For more information please visit