The Rio Grande Valley is one of those special places that seem to always stay the same. As a native RGVer, who left and came back from larger metropolitan cities it is extremely obvious how slow the RGV is to adopt new ideas and concepts. Add the fact that I work in the advertising industry, and the gap is even more apparent.

Businesses here don’t really understand the concept and worth of good integrated advertising.  I’m not talking about the flyers that your comadre can print out, or the good deal on a radio spot because your dad’s bother’s wife knows someone at the radio station, but about a completely cohesive and integrated advertising strategy.

I know, I know you’re probably thinking that local businesses cannot afford to do something like this, but in reality it is a lot simpler (and probably a lot more cost effective) then anything your business is currently doing. So, because I’m a true believe that the Valley needs to get educated on this topic, I want to provide you with a couple of pointers on how to get your businesses marketing strategy started (of course, if you don’t have time to do it yourself Amplify would always be happy to lend a helping hand).

Set realistic goals and objectives.

Don’t ever start an advertising/marketing campaign without setting goals! By doing this you are just setting yourself up to fail. Just think about it, it’s like driving somewhere without a destination. Take the time to sit down and truly think about what your business needs. Do you need to increase store traffic/sales/brand awareness? Do you want to increase your like/followers on Facebook and Twitter? Do you want more engagement with your brand online? Or do you want to drive traffic to your website?

Once you decide on what you need your advertising and marketing to do. Be realistic about it. Don’t expect to get 1,000 Like in a week, or increase sales by 50% in a month. Advertising, like everything, takes time and consistency.

Set a budget.

Now days you don’t need to have a huge budget. You’d be surprised what you can do with $500 a month, if you use it wisely. With the rise of social media, and digital channels there are new creative ways to reach your customer for a lot less then you might expect. So set a budget that is realistic and most importantly that will be able to be maintained for an extended amount of time.

Define your customer.

I know you’ve probably heard this a lot, but it is extremely important. Know who your customer is. Once you have identified the type of person that frequents your business, get to know them (or at least some of them). What do they like (hobbies, activities), are they younger, older, around what age? All these details will help you craft a message for them. This way the message will resonate with them and build a connection between your business and your customer.

Look at your media options.

Don’t be stuck in thinking just about traditional media (which is what everyone here in the RGV is all about) unless it truly has worked for your business.  Digital advertising is a frontier the RGV has yet to fully explore. If you are a local business, digital can be one of your best options both with reach and price point.

When choosing your media keep in mind that everything needs to integrate together. For example, your print needs to drive people in store or to your website. If you are using SEM it needs to drive customers to the right page. If you are using social media make sure you are engaging with your followers and driving them to think about your business and brand. So basically, everything you do should have a reason.

Track everything!

Whether you are using traditional (which is A LOT harder to track) or digital, you need to implement a way to track what is working or is not working. Include call to actions, unique landing pages on your advertising, social media links, or simply ask customers what drove them in store/online. By doing this you will get a good picture of what is working for your business and what is not, allowing you to adjust accordingly.

Determine an evaluation form.

Before you launch your campaign make sure you establish ways to measure whether your campaign was a success. These should be based on your goal and objectives. Were they accomplished and if not, why not? Look at your results and see what works and what doesn’t work, then modify your approach for next time.

Overall, you can never guarantee that your marketing/advertising program will be 100% successful. But by following the tips above you can guarantee that you are making the best decisions for your business to succeed.