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6 Simple Ways to Determine Which Marketing Ideas Are Best for Your Business

by Jennifer McCay

Did something catch your eye in a direct mailing this past week? Have you recently gone to a website and encountered something entirely new that you'd like to try out? Did a friend of yours try out a new marketing idea and generate a few thousand dollars of extra business overnight?

As a small business owner, it's all too easy to get caught up in the hype of new marketing techniques that promise quick rewards for little cash. I'll even admit that we copywriters are trained to overcome your psychological objections to buying what we're selling so that you're ready to whip out your wallet right then and there.

And especially in certain marketing circles, the marketing materials for a new whizbang idea are so compelling, you're driven to dump everything you've been doing in order to start trying the latest, greatest end-all be-all marketing technique right away. But this can be dangerous to your bottom line -- or even your entire business.

Whenever you try out a new marketing idea, it's important to proceed with caution.

Here are 6 quick tips to keep you on track:

1. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

If you have been sending out a direct mailing that steadily brings in business at a rate that you are happy with, don't stop using this technique just to put new life in your marketing plan.

Instead, test different types of offers/approaches/what have you using a small portion of your mailing list (10% is a good start), see what works best and then test some more using that approach as your control. Make sure that you apply whatever you learn from these tests to your other campaigns, and then test some more.

2. Measure your results in order to determine what works best.

There's no reason to try something new if you're not able to see what works.

For example, I recently tested a different approach on a page on my website that is solely dedicated to generating subscriptions to my Avenues to Marketing Success Newsletter. To see if the new copy worked, I sent prospects coming from one online source to the new page and tested the old version of copy against the new. I then tweaked the version that worked best until I found a balance that got the best response from my target audience of small business owners.

3. Marketing isn't just about the numbers.

Sometimes a marketing campaign you've already got rolling doesn't work its magic right then and there. It has a slower, but longer-lasting effect that will generate long-term sales for you and build trust in your group of prospects.

This is a concept so near and dear to my heart that I'm literally writing a book on this, in fact, and I have found that over time, even campaigns that don't generate an immediate boost in income have residual effects that ensure the longevity of your business.

So remember that you're selling to people who need time to warm up to you and might not respond the first time you try a new marketing tactic. Give your older marketing idea a little time to work its magic.

4. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

I can't count the number of times I've had clients approach me wanting to use a new marketing idea because 3 people gave testimonials on a website stating that they made millions overnight.

I don't doubt the authenticity of many, many of these testimonials, which often come from reputable marketers who have built a legitimate business rapidly, but there is a reason why the vendors selling these sorts of products use disclaimers stating that the income earned is atypical and may not work out for you. Their market is not yours, their circumstances are not yours, and most good things require work to accomplish, regardless of what is claimed.

But don't let this discourage you. After all ...

5. It's always OK to try something new; just make sure not to discontinue the marketing you've been doing that gets results.

The 10% rule works here as well. Spend 90% of your time and money on marketing that you know has worked before and will work again and again, and use the other 10% to try new techniques. This way you won't miss out on a stellar new idea, but you also won't bankrupt your business if your new marketing idea fails.

6. Wait 3 days to decide.

That's all. Just wait.

Sure, it's tempting to jump right in the moment you read scrumptiously mouthwatering copy that shows you how countless business people before you have turned tiny businesses into multimillion-dollar conglomerates ONLY if you buy today, but that's the point: The copy is designed to get you to act now.

Even as a copywriter myself who's fully aware of the sales techniques involved (and uses them when it makes sense and is ethical to do so), I know how hard it can be to resist the temptation to buy the very moment you encounter it; it happens to me as well, and theoretically I should know better.

To ensure that you're making an educated decision, stick a note in your calendar to revisit the idea after 3 days and see if it still looks as good as it did the day you first encountered it.

In any case, expanding your marketing horizons to include new marketing ideas is always helpful if it allows you to learn more about what your prospects are looking for. Just proceed with caution, use a little moderation and you'll see which one of your new marketing ideas works and which ones don't in short order.

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About the Author:

Jennifer McCay

Want more small business marketing tips like these? Published by Jennifer McCay, the free Avenues to Marketing Success Newsletter helps small business owners like you find more clients more easily without selling their souls. Sign up today at!

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