Recently I was in a discussion with a small business owner about his marketing strategy and plan. He had the core elements of a traditional promotional plan… if it was 1991! There was no strategy or clearly defined plan. His marketing plan primarily consisted of running small ads in local yellow page directories and the local paper at a cost of approximately $300 a month. He even relied on the salespeople that sold him the ad space to create his ads, so of course they used his business card and their best clip art. When I asked him how much business he was generating from these ads, he said, “I’m not sure, but why fix what isn’t broken?” He continued by saying, “I’ve run these ads for years and I always have customers mention the ads.”
This attitude toward marketing strategy and planning is a recipe for disaster. As a business owner you want to make sure that you are consistent in your branding efforts and effectively leveraging the appropriate mediums to reach your target customer. Here are some simple questions that can get you focused on building your marketing strategy:
Who is your target customer?
Analyze your existing business to see common characteristics of your best customers. You will want to look for three types of customers: 1) Biggest spenders, 2) Frequent buyers, and 3) Top referrers. Once you have identified the customers that fit these categories, ask them for suggestions and feedback on your marketing efforts. Making assumptions of who these customers are and what makes them support your business can be a costly mistake that can ultimately ruin your opportunity for success.
What is the key message you want to convey?
Your product or service should meet a need for your customer and you have to determine the best way to articulate this to potential customers. Don’t assume that running a laundry list of products or key features gets your point across. You have to reach consumers by connecting with their passion point in order to have your message stand out in a competitive marketplace.
When are consumers more likely to purchase your product or service?
With a limited budget, you can efficiently target consumers by making sure that your message is heard when they are most likely in shopping mode. For instance, a motorcycle dealership might concentrate their advertising and marketing efforts in early spring to capitalize on consumers desire to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather.
Where should you place your message to effectively reach consumers?
Today there are so many marketing options that it can frankly be overwhelming. Ideally you will want to have a strategic plan consisting of direct mail, mass media and SEO supported by a social media strategy leveraging Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging. Also there should be a networking strategy and referral process.
Why would consumers choose you?
With so many competitors, options and price points, you have to focus on what differentiates you, your business and the service you provide… your value proposition. This will enable you to compete against price commoditization especially in this challenging economy that has changed the landscape for both consumers and businesses these last few years. Consumers are more conservative in their spending. They are looking for high quality products and services at an affordable price, however there’s an expectation they will not have to sacrifice their customer experience. Focus on creating raving fans and loyalists by offering every customer an uncompromisingly amazing customer experience.
How do I get started?
So, before you allow your sales rep to develop your branding and ads, I would like to offer you a complimentary marketing consultation. For $500, I can develop a customized and measurable marketing strategy with a step-by-step plan to drive the results that your business needs. Additionally, I can connect you with my business partners Integraphix (a marketing and design company in the Chicago land area specializing in Internet Marketing, Graphic Design, Web Design and Print Design) to develop the consistent branding and internet presence your business needs to compete.