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Small Business Marketing Strategy - Do's and Don'ts
Make Your Marketing Work for You!
Many small business owners lose money on marketing, and risk losing their business. Understand these marketing fundamentals, and avoid these marketing mistakes, and watch your customers pour in!
Small Business Marketing - Do It Right
Here is a list of the steps of successful marketing, from start to finish. If you're launching or re-vamping your marketing plan, do them all. If not, you can use this list as a troubleshooting tool: Figure out what you're doing right, and do more of it; And figure out what you're not doing so well, and improve it.
Step Zero: Ready to Start Marketing
Before you can even write a marketing plan, you need to know that your product or service is ready to sell, or will be soon. And you need to have it clearly defined and to understand it well. This means having a well-thought-out strategic business plan. You also need to know how much money you can spend on marketing and sales. So you need a good business financial plan, as well. To learn more about these plans, please read A Project Management Plan: The Key to Success for Launching a Small Business.
No Battle Plan - or Marketing Plan - is Complete Without a Map
Plan and Execute Marketing and Sales - Step by Step
Next, we plan and execute our marketing and sales, step-by-step. There is a reason that marketing and sales work is done in campaigns. Going on a campaign - whether marketing, political, or military - means going outside your own area of control and into foreign territory to accomplish a goal. To succeed, you need excellent maps, great supply lines, and a great team doing lots of work.
- Define Your Strategic Goals and Key Metrics. A political campaign is designed to win an election. A military campaign is designed to win a war. What is the goal of your marketing campaign? What products and services do you want to sell, and what net revenue do you want to achieve? And how much can you afford to put into the effort? After that, define key metrics for each step of marketing. How will you know that each step of each marketing campaign is working?
- Create or Improve Your Map: Define your target market. For each product or service, know who you sell to. Know where they are and where to find them. Know all about their needs and wants and interests; they ways of thinking, their concerns, their worries, and what will make them happy. Know all about how they make decisions, and about what distracts them or prevents them from making a decision. To learn more of why this is important, please read Marketing Psychology for Small Business.
- Do Your Branding. Political campaigns have slogans and logos. Military units have uniforms and mascots. Your company, products, and services should be just as easy to recognize and remember. That is what branding is all about. To learn more, please read Branding for Small Business.
- Get Your Basics in Place. When branding is complete, you have a company name, a tag line, and a logo. It's time for letterhead and business cards.
- Build Your Product and Service Pyramid. Define each product or service clearly and precisely. Assign a price or price range to each one. Decide what information or samples you will give away for free. Think about what items will be low-cost, easy purchase choices, and what items will be higher-end selections. For the higher-end selections, think through the customer's decision-making process carefully, so that your marketing and sales support their decision process.
- Build Your Marketing Library. A marketing library is a supply of re-usable content - words and images - that you can use over and over again in many marketing campaigns. Write it and revise it until it is excellent. Then every ad, brochure, and marketing piece you create will be excellent - and cost less, too!
- Design Your Marketing and Sales Solution or Solutions. Now, you choose whether to go for local, Internet, Social Media, or mobile marketing. You choose whether to do all automated sales, or what type of sales force to have. You do this at two levels, strategic design and tactical design. Strategic design addresses the business issues - what marketing and sales solution will work best for your business and your budget? Tactical design involves choosing management systems and software systems to implement your strategy.
- Build and Execute Marketing Campaigns. With all this support in place, you can quickly and easily build excellent marketing campaigns. You have a very flexible solution - small campaigns can go out in less than a week.
- Track and Improve. Weekly or monthly, depending on the size of the campaign, check your results against the goals and metrics in step 1. If you are achieving or exceeding your goals, great! Keep doing what works, and improve on it. If you are not reaching your goals, that's okay. But dive into the metrics, find out what is not working, and fix it!
Small Business Marketing - Common Mistakes
- Never think that your actions make the sale. We empower our clients to make a choice, and we win when they say yes.
- Never assume that every prospect should say yes. What we offer will not be right for everyone. And even those for whom it is right, it may not be the right time.
- Never feel bad about a "no." In sales, our goal is not to close the deal, it's to help the client make the right choice for himself or herself.
- Never think that consumer sales (B-to-C) and marketing techniques are the same as business sales (B-to-B) techniques. If anyone is offering sales training without making that distinction, run rapidly in the opposite direction, even if they are famous.
- Never skip the basics. Do your target market definition, planning, and branding before you launch a campaign.
- Don't lose your graphic originals. If I had a dollar for every time a client came to me without the originals for his own logo or branding graphics, I'd be a rich man. When you hire someone to create art for you, keep the originals. You can use them again and again!
- Don't think cheap. Don't think cheap, think re-usable. Pay top dollar for excellent graphics and marketing content that you can use again and again.
Plan, Act, Succeed
All this planning may seem like a lot of work. Heck, it is a lot of work. And doing it right costs a fair lot of money. This is totally worth it, and for two very good reasons:
- Build a great army, and each campaign is easy and low cost. Go to war with a poor army, and lose your shirt. A marketing plan and marketing library, are re-usable. They cost a lot, but they are worth a lot because, like a good army, they will win for you, one campaign after another.
- Sun Tzu said it best in The Art of War. The general who knows his enemy wins half his battles. The general who knows his enemy and himself wins all his battles. In marketing, the manager who knows his customers and himself wins in every marketing campaign. Target market research is about knowing the customer. The rest of your marketing plan and marketing library is about knowing yourself.
Put your marketing plan and library all together once, and win again, and again, and again.
Do I know it works? Yes! When I do this for my clients, their increase in profits exceeds my fee by ten times or more!