Marketing is critical to the success of any business. You’ve got to get people talking about your work or product so that you can get in front of the people that will buy from you. It’s a simple theory with a complicated execution.

HOw do you determine a good ROI for the time and money you spend on marketing? How can you decide which channels to market on, and how do you know if they’re working? Where’s the best place to spend your marketing budget?

Here are three questions to help you determine the best use of your marketing budget.

Who is My Ideal Audience?

Who are you trying to reach with your product? Identifying your ideal customer should be the first marketing exercise you do for your business. From there, you can do research on where your ideal customer is, and how you can reach them.

For example, if you are trying to reach teenage boys, you shouldn’t waste your marketing budget on Pinterest, which predominantly reaches women in their 20’s and 30’s. Instead, focus on social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram.

How Long Do I Want to Advertise on a Platform?

You have the option of a one time post or a months long campaign, depending on the size of your budget. And that goes for pretty much every platform. You can work with an Instagram influencer for months or you can have a months long tv ad campaign.

Smaller companies and budgets may opt for the cheaper one time ad placement, but you have to really consider what that will return for you. Marketers used to say that people needed to see something 7 times before they would buy it. Today, that number has gone up to 21-50 times, depending on who you ask. So the question becomes, does a one time post or ad make sense, or are you better off working with a longer term campaign, even if it costs more?

What Type of Return Am I Looking For?

And finally, be crystal clear on what you want from your marketing. Are you looking for product sales? New clients for your design business? More followers? Getting clear on the purpose behind each marketing push will make it easier to track the results.

Not all marketing is created equal. That means that what you want OUT of marketing will determine where you should spend your marketing budget and time. A campaign for more followers might look very different than a campaign for product sales.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to marketing, it comes down to trial and error. Make sure to track everything you’re doing for your marketing, so you understand the results that you do (or don’t) get. There is no one secret formula that every business can follow to get marketing success. But taking the time and using your budget correctly will yield the results you ultimately want.