So far we’ve covered communicating clearly, adding value, and the importance of taking your brand seriously. Now it’s time to put all that together and organize it in a way that builds traction and awareness for your business. We’re going to build your marketing plan.
Set Measurable Objectives
“We’re going to kill it!” is a great rallying cry for your business but, as a business goal it’s useless. You are a business owner with limited funds, and you should not waste those funds on efforts that might feel good but aren’t targeting a clear, measurable outcome.
Some examples of worthless (generic) goals:
Grow my business
Get more likes on social posts
Make a Facebook page for my business
Run ads on the radio
Can you tell why those aren’t good goals? Growing your business is good, but what does that mean? Be specific. Building a Facebook page for your business is an operational requirement, but what’s the goal behind it, what should it be doing for you? Let’s look at some goals that are better constructed.
Increase repeat sales by 15%
Increase new sales during the month of June
Improve customer service
Capture five hesitant customers
Position yourself as a leader in basket weaving
Do you see some differences between the two groups of goals? The outcomes are pretty specific. Increasing repeat sales by 15% speaks to improved customer retention. Increasing new sales during a key month as compared to the same month last year is something you can measure. If you have a customer dissatisfaction problem, improving customer service is an important goal that should yield very clear feedback. Know what you want to accomplish first, then start building strategies to get there.
Build Plans Around $ Goals
While branding is a very important concern, whenever possible, build your marketing plans around financial goals. Why else would you do it? Even if the direct outcome is not a sale, the indirect outcome should be. For example, increasing new customers could require doing some work with current customers, encouraging them to send business your way by making them super happy. You might not be getting them to spend more money immediately, but in five happy people can each send you three qualified leads, you’re looking at more income.
The same is true for all their goals: your brand should communicate feelings and ideas that support someone’s willingness to do business with you. Your positioning as an expert or leader or artisan should encourage a customer to choose you instead of the other guy. Ultimately none of it is immeasurable or nebulous or strictly feel-good stuff. It’s supposed to get you sales.
Know Your Resources
When you go it alone, your time is at a premium and should not be used as freely as wet naps at a wings bar. Know how much time you need to dedicate to production or client work to bring in revenue, then decide how much time you will need to spend on marketing in order to bring in business.
Some marketing methods, such as using social media, have a low initial cost, but require sustained and substantial investment of time over the long haul to maximize effectiveness. Running radio or TV ad campaign local stations can do a lot of the work for you, in terms of getting people to pick up the phone or visit your site, but to have any measurable effect it’s going to require quite a bit of money. Before you start writing your marketing plan, just make sure you know which of your resources will be easier to spare.
As you plan, create systems for tracking what you spend and how it affects sales, to determine the cost of recruiting a new customer. A pay per click campaign on Google may have cost you $700 and felt like a success because of how many clicks you got. However if it only resulted in 10 sales, averaging 20 bucks each, you spent $70 per customer, and made back only 20 bucks per sale.
Track where your sales come from is much as possible, and constantly test for effectiveness. If the new business is costing you money to bring in and not paying for itself, you’re using the wrong tools or attracting the wrong customers.
Once you’ve done the research to determine how best to reach her customers, figured out what you’d like to accomplish, and know how much time and money you can commit to your efforts, then you can start thinking about strategies to help you reach those goals.
To increase repeat sales for example, focus on strategies that reward loyalty and repeat business through discounts or other bonuses. To increase new sales, make existing customers happy (this should not cost you extra) and make sure you reward them for sending you referrals. To grow business that’s just a start up, build a tight community of customers who are engaged in your success and wants to see you grow. If you’re trying to capture customers were on the fence, hard-sell tactics won’t work, so your strategy should focus on creating a dialogue that will lead you to ways of overcoming their resistance. Positioning yourself as a leader in the industry? Be a problem solver and bring other people together for idea jams.
For most businesses, you might want to accomplish most or all of the above, and if that’s the case, your strategies and methods should overlap in ways that are mutually supportive for all the goals. If all you want is a one-time sale, all you get from the customer is their money. If you want to grow affinity and loyalty and an army of marketers working on your behalf, rely on strategies that offer something positive rather than manipulating your customers.
Select Your Tools
With all the factors that go into deciding where to spend your marketing money, what your goals should be, and how to motivate your customers, it should be clear by now that your method should be the last thing you choose. Unless, that is, you want to spend your capital tailoring your campaign to a specific channel, and learn about the cost of doing business backwards the hard way.
This was a big mini series and we didn’t even scratch the service of marketing as a function of your business. There are also tons of tools, resources, other sites, and podcasts that are devoted to sharing the latest and greatest with you and the best part is it’s always evolving. Whatever the cool marketing tools are the day you find this post the meat and potatoes of this mini series still stands. You need to figure out what your market cares about, where their attention is going, how they like to be communicated with, and engaged authentically.