It’s resolution time:
- You’ve already been to the gym this morning
- You haven’t eaten anything bad for you (but tastes so good!) in at least 24 hours
- You’re actively thinking about your Marketing Strategy right now
Great! Let’s build on that last one (I have a hard enough time with the other two myself…)
The New Year brings about a fervent desire to be better and do better. Directing these desires towards your business is always at the top of the list for small business owners. But where to start? So here are five tips that will help you create an effective marketing strategy for your business.
The good news is – a couple of hours of dedicated “think time” this week is all you need to get these down (write them down!) and then get to work – Resolution Kept!
1. Know your business’s goals
Ask yourself where you want the business to go. You know the answer here better than anyone – after all, the business is a reflection of you. What can you really achieve this year? What could you achieve through a focused, purposeful approach to growing your business this year? How will you communicate this and hold everyone (including you) accountable for achieving these goals? Keep them S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
2. Identify your ideal target customers
Understanding whom you are selling to (and who you aren’t) is critically important because it can save you a lot of time and energy. Let’s look at the example of a dental clinic. The target base for that business is not every single person who needs a dentist. Instead, it is the people who need a dentist with ready access to the clinic and have a specific need for a service you’re uniquely qualified to provide (e.g., implants or cosmetic dentistry). Firing unprofitable customers and not targeting unprofitable prospects is an important part of your marketing strategy. Think about whom your 10 best customers are and what you need to do to attract 10 more just like them!
3. Identify what the business is selling and what customers are really buying
Whatever your business is selling must be in line with your business values and goals. Sometimes this answer isn’t as clear as you might think. For example, if you own a dental clinic, the easy answer is you are selling dental care. However, you might also be selling some other things without realizing it. Ask your customers why they choose to do business with you. They might mention things like comfort or simplicity or convenience. For example, people like to go to clinics where they feel good about the experience more so than just the practical matter of dental care. Ask your best customers what they like most about doing business with you and why they keep doing business with you – the answers may surprise you and will get to the core of your reputation, which can be a unique competitive advantage for your business.
4. Look at the Competition
Looking at your competition can be incredibly motivating. It can also help you identify where your business is going wrong (or on the flip side, what it is excelling). Consider the ways in which your customer base, products/services, and goals compare to your competitors. Set Google Alerts for each of your competitors (or use a service like BuzzSumo) to help monitor what they are saying and doing and then consider how this could impact your marketing strategies. Do not assume that just because they are doing something different that they are better – keep in mind who you’re targeting and view your research in light of your strategies.
5. Understand the Necessary 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. Happy New Year!
Bonus Tip: Block time (and follow through) on monitoring your strategy and plans each week (or at least every other week) throughout the year. If you’re dedicated to growing your business I can assure you that focused attention on your Marketing plan will be an area where your competition will give up long before you do – opening the door to growth.
Mark Z. Fortune, founder of Fortune Marketing, LLC, advises small businesses on marketing strategies to ensure that sales and marketing investments return positive results. Mark is a Master Duct Tape Marketing Consultant who believes small business marketing challenges are not insurmountable; they can be met with a focused approach leveraging the principles of the Duct Tape Marketing System. He is also a co-author of the recent Amazon Bestseller The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Local Lead Generation. More information is available at www.fortunemarketinginc.com and www.localleadgenbook.com