Archive for 2011

The Single Most Powerful Small Business Marketing Tool On The Planet

Let me get right to the point. The single most powerful small business marketing tool on the planet is a marketing plan. Now before you roll your eyes and run for the hills let me clear a few things up.

When I talk about a marketing plan I am not referring to those academic exercises found in college marketing books, or the templated mumbo jumbo found in business planning software. I will not be asking you to determine your share of the market today. Give me a break, share of the market, most small business owners just need to figure out to get ten more customers.

A marketing plan is a simple (in many cases one page) document that specifically answers who you are, what you do, who needs it, how you plan to grab them by the throat, when you plan to do it and how you plan to pay for it...in a way that everyone in your organization, network, and client base can clearly understand.

Now that was a mouthful so let me back up a moment. Small business owners are doers, not planners. While doing is better than, say, mildewing, without direction, it leads to "marketing idea of the week" syndrome and stunts any chance a small business has for real growth.

Take one day, follow these 7 simple steps to creating the most powerful small business marketing tool on the planet, and your life will become a much simpler affair. Flowers will grow where weeds had previously resided, your children will say thank you at the top of their lungs, and your favorite baseball team will finally make that run for the pennant.

Well, maybe none of that will happen but you won't be as irritated when it doesn't.

Step 1: Narrow your market focus

Look at whom you are currently doing most of your business with. Figure out why they do business with you and what it is about them that is unique. Write one paragraph that describes what they look like and what they want out of life. Take a good hard look at the rest of your clients and customers and decide if they fit that description of your best client. Start saying no when the phone rings and it's not your target market calling.

Step 2: Position your business

Figure out what it is that you do best, figure out what your target market longs for and tell the world that you do that like no one else ever thought of. Maybe it's serving a niche, maybe it's a form of service, maybe it's a way you package your products. Here's a hint: you probably don't know what it is. Call up 3 or 4 of your clients and ask them why they buy from you.

Step 3: Core messages

Create several very compelling benefits of doing business with your firm and find ways to work them into everything you say and do. Just remember it's not a benefit unless your clients think it is. Your clients don't buy what you sell...they buy what they get from what you sell.

Step 4: Marketing materials

Recreate all of your marketing materials, including your website, so that they speak only of your core messages and your target market.

Step 5: Never cold call

Make sure that all of your advertising, including yellow pages, is geared to creating prospects and not customers. You must find ways to educate before you sell. Your target market needs to learn how you provide value in a way the will make them want to pay a premium for your services or products. You simply can't do this in a 3 x 4 ad. Your ad needs to get them ask for more information...then you can proceed to selling.

Step 6: Expect referrals

You must create a referral marketing engine that systematically turns clients and referral networks into 24 hour marketing powerhouse. The first step in the system is to make providing referrals a condition of doing business with your firm.

Step 7: Live by a calendar

After you complete steps 1-6, determine what you need to do to put them into action and then schedule them on a calendar. Whatever it is that you need to pick a month and pledge to get it done that month. The mistake most small business owners make is to get overwhelmed when they realize how much they really need to.

If you can begin to schedule one or two activities each month you will look up at the end of six months and find that you have a fully developed referral system, new website, and a lead generation system. Slow and steady wins the race tortoise.

The Importance of Business Marketing

Business marketing is one of the most important parts that your business needs to be addressed with careful attention and proactive thoughts. In last decade or so, the importance of business marketing has increased volcanically, as the advent of Internet and online business has ushered a whole new era in business. It should be noted that the competition and urgency among businessmen has increased due to the fact that Internet has rendered a whole world as a virtual world, and you never know when and from where a potential competitor has entered your territory unnoticed by you. And this is where proper business marketing strategies and sound business marketing plans play their part to make you the choicest businessman for your customers and dealers.

For successful business marketing, you need to develop a proper business marketing plan, and then gauge its performance for your business growth. There are many things that your business marketing plan needs to address and these points may include some of the following:

What are your business marketing goals

This actually delineates what are you looking for. What goals you have set for your business and what are you looking to achieve through your marketing plans?

What is your target audience

This is an important point that you need to know beforehand, for, it describes the scope and range of your business marketing plan. There is no advantage of advertising your fashion prone apparels to the old people, for, they are less likely to buy it. You must be very clear about who you are addressing and will your audience generate the leads that you are looking for.

Sometimes, you keep on targeting wrong audience that do not have the need of your products and expertise, and the result is as you can think: you are wasting your money and not getting the results that you have set for your business. So, it becomes utterly necessary to chalk out the group of people that you are going to address and market your business. Business marketing plans often have detailed study of the audience: their liking, their predominant choice, and their habitual circumstances, for, actually audience is the thing for which business marketing is done!

Deciding business marketing system

As it is already said that Internet has made business marketing a whole new concept, every growing business should address the need of Internet or online marketing. Apart from the conventional advertisement systems in newspapers, magazines, online marketing tools should be incorporated in the business marketing plan, which may include: search engine optimization, e-mail marketing, banner ads, etc.

At the end, we can say that business marketing has grown wide and wild with the added horizons of Internet and online business, and a business owner should be proactive enough to handle the situation steadily and should incorporate all possible techniques for better business marketing plans and strategies.

How to Write Your Own Business Marketing Plan

The first step of writing your business marketing plan is to understand what type of industry you are in.

Do people know what your line of business is, so they will call you and look for you in Yellow Pages? Have they bought from your business prior?

Or do you have the other kind of business where people don't know all about what you do, either because they don't know your industry exists as an industry, or they know a little bit about your line of business but aren't sure to know where to find you?

This is vitally important. The answer may seem obvious to you, but you must understand which type of business you are in as it greatly affects your business marketing plan creation.

The first business lends itself to websites, Yellow Pages, other phone directories, local newspapers and trade directories where you would be listed alphabetically. This may surprise you, but you don't need to get into unusual marketing strategies when you're an everyday, well known industry type like a plumber or electrician.

I call this type of business the "here I am" industry. In other words the customer already knows what your line of business is and what sort of products/service you provide. All you have to do is put yourself in front of the potential customers and let them know effectively with marketing, "here I am!"

What you do need to do if you're in this more common industry type is to become an excellent copywriter and redesign all of your marketing with proven advertising principles. Read every book you can on advertising as the words alone do make a massive difference to the response you get by running a promotion in the same place, one week to the next with a rewording of the ad.

Ask people in the street and your customers where they found you and you'll find they will normally just think to look for you in the common media places.

Now for the harder to market businesses. I call these "this is why you need me" businesses. In other words you have to explain to the customers why they would want to buy from you and how your product/service works in helping them in their lives.

These industries won't find much success with Yellow Pages. These industries need marketing like direct mail, letterbox flyers, newspaper/magazine inserts, websites (with much thought given to key word phrases), joint venture partners (or alliance partners).

So to write your business marketing plan you need to begin with the industry type you are in and work out which marketing strategy suits the industry you are in.

Next work out who your ideal customer is. What age, where do they live, do they have kids, what car do they drive, what's their income.

Then work out all strategies that are relevant to your line of business and which ones you can use to communicate in significant volume with your ideal customer. This isn't hard, most marketing books will tell you all manner of available strategies.

Now work out which strategy when implemented has the greatest potential for profit return instantly with the least amount of financial risk. This is important as many businesses chew up cash reserves at a rapid rate due to not understanding the business they were in, or by taking a risk on a strategy like TV advertising that costs a lot and can still fail to product profit enough to pay for itself.

Then work out the next most likely to succeed strategy and keep going. You don't need two dozen strategies. I've worked with businesses that grew 1,000 percent in 5 months just by using 4 marketing strategies.