Most small businesses hear marketing strategy and immediately think website, email newsletter, copy, LinkedIn and promotions — you know, tactics. Heck, most well-known marketers do the same thing.
1. Know your business and marketing goals
Anyone that’s heard me speak or read my blog knows that I believe setting business and marketing goals is the most important step for success. Without goals, your business will drift through the year and be in danger of becoming what Zig Ziglar calls a “wandering generality’” No business becomes a success by just drifting.
Until you can specifically define the results you want to achieve, or the primary reason you’re marketing that supports your overall business goals, your business will fall prey to bad marketing recommendations.
The big question at hand is: What specific actions do you want ideal customers to make as a result of your marketing? The answer to this is the result of your “call-to-action” in all of your marketing efforts.
Examples of Specific Results from Marketing Call-to-Actions
- Start a relationship
- Have someone place an order
- Capture ideal target customer data
- Have someone call your toll-free 800 number
- Visit your website
- Get people to subscribe to your newsletter
- Create top-of-mind awareness for your products or services
- Have prospects and customers visit your place of business, showroom, or store
- Have interested parties enter a contest
- Refer a friend or associate
Do not leave it to chance that ideal customers know what to do as a result of your marketing. Tell them to do something. A simple ad that offers a phone number without a call-to-action is not effective marketing. The phone number needs to be accompanied with a simple command, “Call Today!”
Marketing Goals in Numbers
A marketing goal can be a big number, such as a certain year-end revenue figure. It might be a smaller number over a shorter period of time, such as four new clients per month.
Marketing goals can also be quantitative translation that fit with your company’s financial objectives, stated in marketing terms such as to increase
- Sales dollars
- Units sold
- Share of market
- Mix of products and services
- ROI on advertising activates
- Public relations placements
- Number of new accounts/relationships
- Share of customer’s business
- Sales conversation rates
You might read this list and think that all of these goals apply to your marketing and your business and that they will all become your goals and part of your plan. Although this attitude is courageous, it may not be realistic.
The right number of goals that you should undertake is the one that offers you a reasonably high profitability of success over a given period of time.
2. Identify your ideal customers
Don’t waste time marketing and selling to people who will never buy. Save time and energy by understanding your ideal customer in four easy questions.
Every day, 98% of the people responsible for the marketing strategy of organizations end up implementing tactics that FAIL for one simple reason: these tactics do not appeal to their ideal customer.
The secret to increasing your profitability isn’t more marketing — it’s targeting. Don’t squander your marketing budget and hundreds of hours generating leads that take your business nowhere. Find your profitable client from the outset, and everyone wins.
Think about whom your 10 best customers are and what you need to do to attract 10 more just like them!
From your client base above start looking at the characteristics of these successful accounts or best clients. You’re searching for any common characteristics that are shared by this client base.
Here’s what you are deep diving for:
- Demographics — Business2Business (B2B) demographics could be the type of industry, the job title of that individual, the years that a company has been in business, and/or revenue levels. Business2Consumer (B2C)the demographics could be age, sex, illness, income, and a particular area of town.
- Psychographics — Understand where do they hang out, what do they read, what do they listen to, what do they search online, what makes them tick, what triggers them to go looking for a solution
- Challenges or Problem — Marketing is about solving customer problems, whether those are problems customers are currently facing, or problems they will face as their marketplace evolves and their needs change.
- Real Quotes — Include a few real quotes taken during your interviews that represent your persona well. This will make it easier for employees to relate to and understand your persona.
3. Identify what the business is selling and what customers are really buying
This seems like a simple enough question, no trick to it really.
- If you sell insurance, you sell a piece of paper
- If you sell remodeling, you sell boards, drywall and paint
- If you sell tax preparation, your sell a big fat envelope full of filled out forms
- If you sell automobiles, you sell four wheels, metal and a way to get around
It’s hard to argue with any of these assertions isn’t it. I mean, that’s what you sell — but that’s not the point is it?
What you really sell is — what the buyer believes that are getting when they buy your product or service.
Stop selling what you sell and start selling what people buy.
Funny thing is — many business owners and organizations don’t even know what that is. And, it’s the most important thing there is to know. Especially if you have marketing and sales professionals.
Stop thinking in terms of what you sell and start thinking in terms of what your clients buy or think they buy. From working with various industries to help them start selling what their customers buy, here are some insights that I’ve found:
- If you sell insurance, maybe they buy a feeling of responsibility or company stability
- If you sell remodeling, maybe they buy the feeling they get when friends drop by or knowing that their family routine won’t be too screwed up
- If you sell tax preparation, maybe they buy peace of mind or a refund
- If you sell automobiles, maybe they buy that sideways glance at the stoplight or knowing their teenage daughter will make it home safe at night
Figure out what your prospects buy, not what they should buy, what they do buy and start communicating that in your marketing message to them.
Start Selling What People Buy!!!!
4. Look at the Competition
Looking at your competition can be incredibly motivating.
Two big pieces of news for you:
1. Competition validates you. When you own a business, the natural tendency is to worry about what your competition is doing and how much they’re charging. This is the old model of thinking; I want you to try something radically different. Instead of worrying about lowering your prices to match theirs, improve your customer service, make your place of business so welcoming and friendly people won’t want to leave.
2. You only have to do something 10% better or provide added value to be successful. Do you know your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? How do you tell customers how you’re different from your competitors? Why should someone hire your service, product or expertise over another? Whether you are an employee, physician, dentist, pastor, teacher, web designer, author, artist, musician, human resource director, professor, politician, or entrepreneur, you must know what makes you different in a way that appeals to your ideal audience. Without that, your success will be mediocre or non-existent.
5. Understand the Essential Time and Money Investments
Creating and executing your marketing strategy is a matter of time and money. You should budget for both of these things. It is very important to have a marketing strategy, but you also have to consider implementation.
Do It Yourself Marketing is certainly a viable option, but also consider if partnering with a marketing expert for planning and execution while you run your business would be a faster path to success.
While there are dozens (if not hundreds) of ways you can promote your business to your target market, choosing a path and then adjusting as results come in can be a time-consuming process that an outside expert can handle more smoothly.
With a couple of hours this week spent thinking through these five steps and putting a plan in place you can begin to deliver exciting growth for your business and stay on the path to profits that will outpace your competition.