In my experience as a small business owner for eight years, I have found that there is a lot of confusion over the best ways to market a business. With the plethora of marketing strategies that are available these days between online, offline and integrated marketing, the choices certainly can make one’s head spin. Yet consistent and clear marketing is critical to success. What’s more, business owners and entrepreneurs who do not spend time to plan their marketing strategy have unknowingly set out on a course headed straight for doom.
1. Having a Well-Defined Target Market
This step is often overlooked, but it is critical to spend time defining your ideal client. Defining a target market helps you define who is most likely to buy your product or service versus any random person who can buy simply because they have a credit card. Being armed with this information will help you maximize a small marketing budget because you will only market to extremely focused and targeted audiences, creating a high ROI. Most small business owners would benefit tremendously by selecting a very narrow target market, sometimes called a micro-niche, and going after that market.
2. Marketing Message
Once you know your target market, you can develop a clear marketing message that addresses your market’s specific problems and shows that you have the business that can solve them. The goal of a marketing message is to grab the attention of your target market and make them interested in finding out more information from you. We are all inundated with marketing messages throughout the day, so creating a message that stands out and makes your target market notice you is imperative.
3. Realistic Marketing and PR Plan
A marketing and public relations plan does not have to be complicated. In fact, it should be very simple so you are more likely to follow it. If you have a simple plan that you have integrated with your calendar, you are far more likely to meet your goals. If you select five to ten ways to market your business and repeat them consistently, you will see results. Also, free PR opportunities are out there for you! Your plan should include article and press release submissions to your local business newspaper and membership organizations, at the very least.
Never underestimate the power of a strong web of prospects, clients, joint venture partners, affiliates and others! Who you know and how you treat them will dictate your success. It’s important to select only the best networking groups that put you in the midst of your ideal clients, potential partners or referral sources. It’s better to only be a member of one or two highly targeted networking groups that you can commit to than a dozen where nobody remembers you because you can’t consistently attend or get involved.
5. Email Marketing
Publishing a relationship-building ezine (e-newsletter) is a core marketing tool for most businesses. It’s inexpensive – and when done well, it works to build relationships with others. It’s a wonderful way to showcase your expertise and allows your clients, prospects and partners, and colleagues to get you know, like and trust you.
6. A Sales and Marketing Based Web Site
Your web site can and should be flexing its marketing and sales muscle every second of every day. A marketing and sales-based web site will capture leads and lead them directly into your marketing funnel, allowing you to start to build relationships with them.
7. Professional Marketing Collateral
Having professionally designed and printed marketing collateral is critical. People will judge you based on something as simple as the paper weight of your business card! If you’re really on the cutting edge, you can create a simple CD with an introduction to your business instead of, or in addition to a brochure. Be sure to use your marketing message, hire a graphic artist to do the design work and include a call to action in all of your materials.
8. Your Support Team
Nobody succeeds alone. As a business owner, you will likely need to locate a marketing-based “dream team” of support such as a graphic artist, a web developer, web designer, copy writer, printer, promotions company and an assistant, just to name a few. Having relationships with each of these professionals will come in handy even if you only need to call on their services a few times a year.
9. Time Mastery
It is up to each of us as business owners to tenaciously covet our time, who we spend it with and how we spend it. As a business owner, it is important to spend the vast majority of our work time on high pay-off activities. It is your right to say no to meetings, volunteer work, committee work or other engagements that do not directly support your main business goals.
Michael Gerber, best-selling author of The E Myth, Revisited, says, “The system is the solution.” If you ever find yourself frustrated with something related to billing, your client intake process, your voice mail, or if you spend too much time retraining your staff how to do something, you are in need of a new system. Creating a system can be very simple. It’s a matter of finding out how something is currently being done, making changes necessary to rid yourself of burdensome tasks, and writing down the new and improved process in a flow chart. Once you have it documented, you can hand the flow chart to everyone involved and provide training, even if it’s just a discussion, so the process runs smoothly.
Before you get overwhelmed with this list of “marketing must-haves,” remember tip #8. You don’t need to do it all alone. In fact, you shouldn’t even try. Delegation of things you cannot do, do not want to do, or someone else can do better is one of the best investments you can make into your business. Hiring people who will support your vision will lead you to success. It will allow you to free up your time to spend it where you need to – on leading your business.
© 2008 Meredith Liepelt, Rich Life Marketing
Meredith Liepelt, President of Rich Life Marketing, publishes Smart Marketing, a free bi-weekly ezine featuring marketing tools and resources designed to help the busy entrepreneur become known as an expert, build trust with clients and prospects and generate more income. Subscribe today at www.richlifemarketing.com.
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