If you’re like most small business owners, you’re juggling many responsibilities. It’s very easy to let certain things slip through the cracks. One of the most overlooked items happens to be marketing. This oversight has nothing to do with failure to launch an ad campaign; rather it’s about forgetting to check whether an existing marketing plan is having a measurable impact on business. 

As a small business owner, it is vital to have a dynamic and active marketing plan. You should never find yourself putting your ads on cruise-control while you tend to other matters. Keep your eyes on your marketing gauges; if there are any negative indicators, be agile enough to make changes on the fly - you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache and money.

Here are a few indicators that will alert you to a failing marketing plan:

Dated Material
I’m absolutely astounded by advertisers that don’t pull old and outdated material. For instance, I’m still seeing and hearing ads with summer themes despite the fact that autumn is here. This happens with Tax Day, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and so on.  It’s important to know that if you’re constantly leaving around outdated material, you’re essentially training your audience to ignore you.

Unknown Line of Products
Most businesses will have ancillary products or services that their customers know nothing about – this is always a nice segue to an up-sell. However, if you’re finding that customers are unaware of your main product line, there’s most likely a major disconnect in your ability to communicate.

No One Recites Your Ads
A tell-tale sign of a good marketing plan is when customers mimic your ads. For instance, if you get a guy singing your jingle at the register or if someone says, “Hey, I just saw your ad on TV!” you’re probably in good shape. When you have a strong marketing plan, you won’t have to ask whether your audience is seeing or hearing your ads – they will initiate that conversation.

Anemic Sales
Sales is the ultimate litmus test for marketing. Even if (in your mind) you’re doing a great job with marketing, the results will always be in the cash register – as companies like Burger King will tell you. See slowing sales as the red-flashing-danger light. Your attention is needed now – not later.

Low Web Traffic
One of the best ways to gauge the vitality of your marketing plan is to look at how many visitors you are seeing at your Website. Are your numbers flat, up or down? Even if your company is more of a brick-and-mortar operation, know that web traffic is still critical – seeing that the vast majority of us will look you up online before walking into your location.

If you’ve taken the initial step to market your business, know that the first step is not the only step. You must be dedicated to the process along the way – adapting and growing your marketing ideas in order to achieve the success you want for your business.

Walter Dailey is a marketing speakerand proven creative strategist. He’s the lead consultant and executive producer for Dailey Sound Vector, a creative services organization that specializes in jingles, copywriting, radio ads and marketing campaign development for small and mid-sized businesses.  Ask Walter your questions at walter@dsvmedia.com