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Small Business Development Center

As business owners, we try a smorgasbord of techniques to attract potential customers; increase interest in our service or product offerings; and ultimately, boost our revenues. Yet sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to know, “Did we get enough bang for the buck?” Have you asked that, or a similar question, such as:

  • How effective is our customer referral program?
  • Was that ad in the paper worth it?
  • Is social media absolutely necessary?
  • Should we consider promotional spots on the radio?

The trick is to devise some sort of tracking mechanism to connect direct results with explicit activities.


As a non-profit, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) doesn’t generate revenue from our client-base. Nonetheless, we need to know what outreach or marketing activities are most effective in delivering content value and results in augmenting our client base of entrepreneurs serious about business growth. With this in mind, I thought it might be helpful to illustrate how to track the effectiveness of marketing activities with an example…


Early in 2019, the SBDC was contacted by a member-based business association about conducting a marketing seminar on “Considering Customer Objections.” The association agreed to handle all promotions about the training opportunity. 23 business owners attended the event. The SBDC distributed a survey at the end of the seminar. 22 surveys were completed, collected, and analyzed. In the weeks after the event, the association followed up with their members, inquiring about their interest in one-on-one SBDC advising services (the core function of the SBDC).


By summarizing survey data (below), the SBDC could easily evaluate if the training content was relevant and useful to attendees, whether or not the material needed to be restructured, and determine if we could leverage the seminar with additional groups.  In other words, was the initial investment in time putting the seminar together worth it?


workshop survey data chart



Attendee Comments

Liked the brainstorming
Enjoyed the presentation

Very informative/helpful
This presentation had some wonderful "a-ha" moments & insights
It was a good idea to have new perspective on how to increase your revenue, how to have a good response to "no"
The presentation helped spark conversations that brought out different insights from various points of view

I thought it was effective to have as much time as we did to breakout into groups

Great handouts

Well prepared & fluent presenter

Great interaction


Based on the survey data, the SBDC felt on-track that this outreach effort was worthwhile, in the sense that the attendees found the information pertinent and useful. The longer-term impact of this outreach activity will be assessed in tracking our “conversion rate” (i.e. how many seminar attendees become SBDC clients?). Taking it a step further, we will evaluate if the contacts made at this training seminar are serious about business growth (are they hiring employees, are they purchasing equipment or looking to buy the facility where their business operates, etc.?).


Are you serious about growing your business but need some assistance on how to link your efforts to your desired outcomes? If so, SBDC advisors can’t wait to meet with you. Contact us today about becoming a SBDC client or scheduling your next appointment!


Post date: 201904