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Marketing: The Heart of Your Business Success
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Why Include a Marketing Plan in Your Business?
Marketing is communication with the intent of informing and educating an audience or consumer about a product or service including its value to them. Marketing is at the heart of your business.
Businesses engages in a variety of activities to market to their target audience. The good news for the entrepreneur (or the writer, or the artist) is that the playing field is a lot more accessible to the smaller business than it ever was. The Internet is a major reason for that. It has expanded the reach of marketing by untold numbers when used correctly. One thing is for sure, regardless of the size of the business and regardless of how the it's marketed, a business is doomed to fail if there is no marketing plan. And the clearer and more specific the marketing plan, the better the chance for success.
The primary goal of marketing? To build strong relationships. It’s not to make a sale, but to build the relationship that leads to that sale. What else do you get from marketing?
* You're building your specific brand around your product or service. Think Apple or CocaCola.
* You're engaged in building consumer trust which leads to product loyalty. Think of Starbucks. You trust that your cafe latte will be the same at any Starbucks you visit.
* You build an awareness of your product or service. Think of the products you buy after seeing an ad for it somewhere, for example you take a trip to California after seeing those great California ads.
* All building up to the sale. This is the validation of your marketing plan.
If you are in business, do you have a marketing plan?
What Form of Marketing Should You Use?
Marketing can take many forms. Without getting too technical or listing too many marketing techniques, here are a few that are fairly easy to put in place without having a marketing degree:
- Direct marketing - flyers, postcards, and other promotional material delivered through snail mail or through email.
- Event marketing - creating an event that brings value to the audience, but also lets your audience know about your products or services.
- Evangelism - your customers organically begin to spread the word about your service product, and it is often via word of mouth. Referral business is priceless.
- Signage - if you have bricks and mortar business, signage is the most important way to let your potential customer know you are there. Pay careful attention to the type and design of your signage. Signage can also include banners at trade shows or billboards along the highways. Be consistent with your design and brand.
- Public Relations (PR) - often takes the form of a press release regarding a specific event or release around your product or service. Write a book; send out a press release. Introduce a new product or service - send a press release. Give a speech - send a press release... You get the picture.
- Newsletter marketing - releasing a newsletter in print or via email on a regular basis so that your customers and target audience come to expect to hear from you.
- Article or blog marketing - releasing related, relevant information regularly via a website or blog. Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to the fullest so that your article or blog is found.
- Social media marketing - using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Periscope, podcasts and others to keep the customer informed of your activities related to your product and services. SEO is important here as well.
Use the Internet for Marketing
Why is the Internet so important to the smaller sized business, with the smaller marketing budget? Because you can effectively market and build those relationships faster. The Internet gives you access to more of your audience and potential customers when you use some of the techniques listed that are only found on the web. The caveat? You never hit the print button - you can do the social media activities, you can write the blog, you can develop and distribute the newsletter all via the Internet.
Explore what might work best for your business and you then develop a marketing strategy around it. Measure its effectiveness as you go along and change it if you see that a technique, given the proper amount of time and effort, does not work for your business.
Just remember, there are many tools to choose from to build your marketing plan. Once you have chosen the toss and developed the plan, you must follow it consistently, analyze its effectiveness, and make changes as needed.
Marketing for your business should never be left to "hit or miss" practices or what sticks to the wall, like spaghetti. Marketing should be systematic and should be an integral part of your business plan. Failure to understand the importance of marketing and your marketing plan, fail to follow it and the outcome for success will truly be hit or miss.
Once again (it can't be emphasized enough), marketing is at the heart of your business success. If you are unsure of what tools to use or even how to build your marketing plan, there are many consultants and businesses that specialize in helping with all or parts of your marketing plan. A good consultant will point you to the tools that will work best for you, within your budget. Contracting with a consultant is an investment that will benefit you and ease the creation of your marketing plan. Either way, with or without help, create a plan and execute it.