5 Easy Steps to Plan for Growth With Cost Effective Marketing
I meet small business owners all the time who think a formal marketing plan is an expendable luxury, yet they’re challenged with meeting their business objectives: getting more customers and increasing sales. The fact is most successful businesses have a written marketing plan – and follow it. Without one, money gets wasted on “ad-hoc marketing”: a print ad here, a radio spot there, a direct mail campaign, networking events, never knowing if any of it is really working – or whether it could be working better.
With money tight these days and all of us trying to achieve more with less- planning is more important than ever. Here are 5 EASY steps you can take to make your marketing more productive, efficient, and cost effective!
1. Identify your target market -Who is your best customer? Take a long hard look at the attributes of your best customers; these are the types of people who are best suited for your business. Once you know who they are and what they look like you can find out where they go for information about your product or service and communicate with them there instead of wasting money putting your message in front of the wrong people and places.
2. How are you different? What makes your business unique from everyone else out there doing what you do? (Hint: it’s neither “great service” nor “fair prices” – who doesn’t offer those?). This is essential to effective marketing. Until you can communicate exactly why prospective customers should work with you, you are playing a guessing game with your marketing dollars. Everyone buys for different reasons- learn why your BEST customers buy from you and you’ll be able to tell future best customers why they should buy from you!
3. Once you narrow down your target market you can begin developing a marketing plan to educate your target audience (reducing the need to SELL!). There are a ton of tools available to communicate with prospects. Find out what works for your business and audience. Use Email, blogs, micro sites (or PURLS), customer segmentation, variable data and social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc) and create a strategy to engage your target market in a conversation with you – on their terms. It’s easier than you think!
4. Create a marketing calendar that will guide you throughout the year and set you on a path to achieve your business and marketing goals. This also helps you organize and prioritize; systematizing your marketing so you can easily fit it into your already busy schedule.
5. Measure your success. It’s imperative to track and measure your results so you can stop throwing money down the toilet on stuff that isn’t working!
I guarantee that if you do a bit of work to figure these things out you will spend less time and money on your marketing and get better results!