Refreshing Your Marketing Strategy: One Small Business’s Journey

Adjusting promotional tactics can yield profitable results

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Adjusting promotional tactics can yield profitable results

By Sheryl Nance-Nash

When it comes to marketing, last year’s winning strategy may be obsolete today. To maintain the wow factor, you have to try something new.

For Melissa Long and her husband Brian, that lesson turned out to be a profitable one. When they opened Wake Foot Sanctuary, a luxury foot soak spa in Asheville, North Carolina, in 2013, they focused most of their marketing efforts on print promotions. But toward the end of 2015, they made an important discovery. “When we do intake forms one of the questions we ask is how someone found out about us,” says Long. “It became clear that more people were finding us online.”

The realization prompted the Longs to revamp their marketing approach. Here’s how they refreshed their strategy and jumpstarted their profits.

They studied their customer. The Longs didn’t make changes just for the sake of making changes. They used research to learn where their customers were and created a marketing plan that would appeal to that audience. In this case, their customers were looking for them online.

They shifted their marketing dollars. The Longs doubled their spending on marketing and designated 80 percent of their budget toward reaching customers online. Long points to evidence that the money is well spent. “We are getting 10-fold the results we were getting with print,” she says. “Track your efforts to see if you’re making money back. If in six months you’re not, then re-evaluate your spending and your strategy.”

They created value. Potential customers want to be informed, educated, or entertained. Another piece they added to the marketing mix was an email newsletter. “This reaches thousands of people each month who view it to hear about our new packages, specials, and sales,” says Long. Wake Foot Sanctuary also ramped up its content across its social media platforms and blogs. “It’s important to us that we provide valuable tools, recipes for facial masks and healthy smoothies, for example, or articles about yoga or meditation, and other points of reference for our audience, to connect with them more authentically and to gain insight and feedback.” Finally, Wake Foot Sanctuary generated buzz by starting a rewards program for return guests and offering guided meditation and tea service events.

They made changes on the fly. One of the benefits of shifting to an online marketing strategy is the ability to shift gears quickly and determine where to put most of their efforts. “We spend more now than ever on marketing, but we are measuring the results and can tie the spending directly to what works and what doesn’t,” Long says.

How’s the new strategy working out? The company has grown from six employees to 15 and continues to average over 50 percent growth year over year. Revenues last year were $600,000 and now they are looking to expand by offering franchise opportunities.

“We need to hire more therapists and front desk associates to keep pace with demand,” Long says. The experience has taught them a lot about marketing and why a plan must evolve with your customers. “You have to keep evaluating and be open to what the data tells you,” Long says. “There are a lot of trends, but in the end, see what works for your company.”
Sheryl Nance-Nash is a seasoned journalist who has written about personal finance, small business, and career-related topics for more than a decade.

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