Being a marketing manager – or business owner with responsibility for marketing – is a lot like walking through a market in downtown Bangkok.

Hardly a second goes by without someone offering you some ‘guaranteed’ marketing activity or another.

Whether it’s taking a tuk-tuk tour, advertising in a brand new parenting magazine, or getting a henna tattoo, the effect is the same.

Confuddlement and information overload.

The ‘ready for new experiences’ part of you thinks: these are all brilliant opportunities for me to grow my business / expand my horizons. The stressed-out part thinks: would you all just leave me alone for one cotton-picking minute so I can take in the scenery!?

Leaving Bangkok behind for a moment, annoying as these salesy distractions are, a few of the business marketing opportunities are going to be ideal for your business. One of them could be your next big revenue generator. But, if, for example, sponsoring a local festival is not already a key feature in your marketing plan (which you’ve researched thoroughly), you can’t be sure if you are being sold a pup, or discovering a perfect source of superb leads.

So, like it or not, you are going to have to have a filtering process in place to pick out the gems and leave the sand behind (mixing my metaphors, sorry. Although, I was once offered the chance to visit a ‘genuine gem factory’ in Bangkok, which, surprisingly, turned out to be less of a diamond factory, and more of a football shirts factory, so maybe not.)

Here’s the filtering process I use. I usually work through these questions in this order, dismissing any activity as soon as it gets a ‘no’ response. But, depending on the particular constraints within in my business at any one particular time I might pull one of the questions to the front of the list.

Question 1: Is this activity offering me an opportunity to connect with the kind of people who could become my Dream Client?

This should be your first question whenever you are offered the opportunity to exhibit at a trade show, join a networking group, advertise… anything really.

Trade show companies and publishers have all sorts of data about the businesses and job titles of their attendees or readership, for some reason they keep quiet about it. It’s always worth asking to see data if you are in any doubt about who will be attending or reading. If you can, go along to an event as an attendee and see for yourself, before you part with your cash. Or, ask your existing clients if they have ever been to the event or read the publication in question.

Question 2: Does this activity reflect the brand that I am building for my business?

Try to choose only marketing activities that reflect the brand that you are developing for your firm. So, for example, if you are trying to build an edgy, fashionable brand, the last thing you should be doing is sponsoring the WI fashion show (sorry Mum). It’s an obvious example, but figure this out for your business. One of the brand values for The Marketing Architect is ‘approachable’, so I would never decide to sponsor the tiger enclosure at Marwell Zoo. Tigers are not approachable, you see.

Question 3: Am I already active in marketing in this stage of the customer journey?

Your marketing needs to operate like a slick machine, shuttling prospects through 6 phases – Awareness, Interest, Evaluation, Trial, Adoption and Loyalty. Your marketing activities are the mini campaigns which move prospects forward on their journey. If you are already over represented in one area, do you really need to add another? Is it a good idea to commit a limited budget to something that will give the same result by acting on your prospect in a phase that you already have covered. For example, if you are approached about attending a trade show as an exhibitor, to raise awareness of your business, but you are already spending a large proportion of your marketing budget on social media and advertising, which also do that, does it really make sense to invest more, if you have nothing in your activity mix that drives customer loyalty?

Question 4: How much of my marketing budget and available time is this going to suck up?

If you are already stretched to capacity just delivering your product or service to customers, adding a new marketing activity is going to massively stress you out. Plus, you run the risk of investing and yet being able to get the most out of that investment, because you didn’t have the time to plan and execute properly. Booking a trade show booth without having the time to work out what you are going to use the space for will undermine your marketing efforts, rather than support growth.

Use these questions to filter opportunities that come your way this week. Better to have three diamonds than a whole drawer full of sand.

For help with filtering, call in the experts! Visit this page to book a free, no-obligation, confidential marketing review.