We’re 43 days into the New Year with 322 days to make a difference in your business.
Marketing Strategy + Marketing Plan + Implementation = Success
Your Marketing Strategy is the “how,”; and your Marketing Plan is the “what”. But your first question should be “who”? Who is your target market? Maybe it’s the same as in the past or maybe you want to focus on a new industry or group
For example, let’s say you’re in the web design business - and your “who” is athletic teams. Once you’ve set up a proposal for one athletic team, it’s easier to adjust that proposal for the next team Your sales process doesn’t change, your networking stays focused, marketing materials, web pages and social media will be less expensive to produce because they won’t need to be changed as often.
Or maybe you’re in the promotional products business, this theory applies to you too. I used to be in this business and my focus was on schools, specifically Adult and Community Education. Trade shows were the perfect place to meet most of my audience at one time. I also had the opportunity to be a guest speaker at the conference. By targeting this industry – this specific “who” - I learned and became an expert in developing a supplemental marketing program for the school districts that I could then package to use in other educational settings The steps to developing this program included:
- Tell a story
- Make a plan
- Set goals
- Promotional materials
So once you figure the “Who” in your plan, you can start looking at the Theme that you want to create for 2013. A theme can change each year as long as your branding remains consistent.
Once you have your theme, you’ll want to tell a Story reflecting that Theme. If you’re a financial advisor, for example, your story can be tailored to retirement, new families thinking of college expenses or living the dream life. Maybe you are in the restaurant business and you want your patrons to think of “FUN” when they think of you. Having the best food in town should not be your marketing theme – that is just an understood concept in the restaurant business.
Planning events that follow the Holiday schedule is also an easy way to create a story. Focus your events on families, or date nights. Maybe your restaurant is sport focused, this makes it much easier, and you can create your own winners/champions - whether it’s the staff or regular customers.
Next, you’ll make a Plan. This is where the “what” comes into play. You’ve got your theme and story line, now what are you going to do to make it come to life? Write your ideas out and see how they can flow throughout the year.
Set Goals. Only you can decide where you need to be at the end of the year. Keep in mind that your goals should include more than just financial goals. Consider improved customer satisfaction or repeat sales. Maybe your goal will be to be more consistent with Social Media efforts This year, whatever you decide is important for your business, make sure you’ve got the right system in place to track results.
Now, it’s time to take action.
Develop Promotional materials that convey your message and theme. Get fresh new business cards that reflect your new theme and strategy. Update your website and focus on your theme while maintaining your core message. This material will tell people who you are and what you stand for when you are not there in person. Make sure you have top-notch quality.
Business Networking is much more than just showing up at networking functions, shaking a lot of hands and collecting a bunch of cards. Networking involves relationship building and can be a deceptively complex process. Networking your business means you have to be proactive. The core of networking is doing something specific each week that is focused on networking for business growth.
Events that you host give you control on whom you want in attendance and how your image will be presented. Attending events is a great way to meet people in a social environment while keeping your professional image in place. If you are planning your own events, keep a few things in mind such as the weather; other events; school vacations; holidays and sport schedules.
It won’t do you any good to plan an event when the town will be filled with crazed sports fans or if your target client is out for Spring break or busy with another event happening in the community.
Building relationships with your Community is vital to your business and to the well being of your city. “Giving back” should be part of your marketing plan as well as you financial plan. That doesn't mean all businesses have to give cash—many entrepreneurs donate products, services, or even real estate. Giving back has a way of getting the business into the limelight along with a noble cause. Others will start to talk about you and to help you grow your business.
Be sure to Track your progress regularly. Be flexible. If something doesn’t seem to be working, evaluate whether it’s the plan or if it might be you. If it’s you, than try again. You’ll only get better at networking by networking.
It’s time to get out a pencil, a calendar, and the budget. Gather a couple of brain storming friends and get busy!