“Maybe your start line was meant to be your finish line.” Do not be afraid to go backward.” Author: Tablo
When we consider taking on a project, we usually lay out the plan and delineate the tasks. You can think of building a house as something simple. The buyer and builder agree on the essential details – a number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchen layout – which will be the “footprint” of their house. The architect will then create blueprints that will be submitted for approval to the local authority or town. Once the blueprints have been approved, the builder will assign the project manager to guide them through the process to completion.
This is where small business marketing can be most effective. The parties should work in reverse. The client, whether they are the internal marketing manager or external business decision-makers, must embrace the vision of where they want it to go. There are many options to define success, unlike the example of house building.
Growth in revenue, for example, from a current rate to a higher one, could be considered a success. Let’s say that the business has grown 10% per year over the past five years. Marketing is designed to increase that rate to 20% per year in a reasonable time frame.
A new product or service can launch with success. This will result in a higher return on investment than previous launches.
Marketing begins to work backward to reach those goals. Marketing professionals start at the end line and incorporate one or more goals. Marketing considers all the components that can be involved in order to manage those project steps, similar to the building manager. Marketing activities, also known as the marketing mix, can come at varying prices and require different time frames to complete.
Here is an example of a marketing plan and process for small businesses.
Let’s start with a goal. Increase revenue by 20% over the next 18-24 months.
Why not set a date? In a constantly changing set of marketing tools, it’s absurd to try and select a date. Imagine creating a plan before Facebook and LinkedIn were popular. There is a good chance that these new mediums of communicating directly with buyers and other influencers will have a significant impact on the completion date.
According to this author, a website is the core of marketing. While a great website is superior, it should also be flexible enough to adapt to changing information search methods. A good website should provide more information than just basic details about the company, brand, solution, and where visitors can go to find it.
Landing pages must be clean and simple (and device-agnostic).
Our landing page(s) are located inside the website. When someone searches for your ad, click the link to take them to a landing page. They don’t have to go through the history of principals, office locations, awards, past PDFs, replays of webinars, etc. You can bring them to the homepage.
Instead, they should direct their attention to the page of the website that addresses the topic using the keyword(s) and the “bait” used in an advertisement to convince them to click on the ad. The majority of people can navigate the website themselves and learn more about the company. The goal of the landing page is to address a SPECIFIC need and provide a SPECIFIC solution.
Okay. Let’s say we have a solid landing page. There are likely many for each solution, product, or campaign. How did they get there? How did they find theirs in a world with literally millions of pages?
CONTENT is the magic word.
Advertising and content should not be confused. Advertising that masquerades as content can be quickly identified as such and is a massive problem for brands. Content is education. It’s sharing thoughts, experiences, thoughts, and successes without the expectation of receiving something in return. Buyers are more interested in altruistic motivation than clever jingles and surveys or puzzles.
Consider your Competitors
We now move on. What do your competitors know about you? Do they offer similar products or services to yours? These claims, accurate or not, are often unquestioned simply because they’re made by high-end marketing research firms whose lipstick is better than the pig who wears it.
Take a look at your competition from a few years ago. Are they really better than you, or are they just doing a better job convincing customers that your company is the latest news? I have been in IT sales and marketing for over 25 years. There are a few companies that seem to be untouchable – WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3, Wang and Digital Equipment, to name a few – or that were just absorbed by other companies. While others were innovating, these companies remained a footnote in early PCs. You don’t have to go back 20-years to see MySpace, Zune, and even Napster.
Spend some time evaluating your competitors. Create a SWOT analysis (S=Strengths/W=Weaknesses/O=Opportunities/T-Threats) to help you target the weak points in your marketing.
It all comes together.
A business’s database is the most crucial foundation for its marketing. The database, whether in an Excel spreadsheet or a CRM tool, is the most critical foundation a business has for marketing. It must be updated and parsed regularly. Otherwise, every dollar and hour will be wasted. It provides contacts as well as a history of client and business experiences, both good and bad. It is also the best place to discover any “warts” that potential clients may find and to give them an opportunity to fix them before you go live with your campaigns.
We now have all the pieces. Now, it is time to combine all the actions with driving influencers and buyers to the landing pages. From there, we can start to generate dialogue and turn clicks into customers. All facets of email marketing, including snail mail marketing, content marketing via blogs, and distribution via social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Use Google AdWords to generate visitors with a modest budget. Follow up by attending industry events where experts are sought for their expertise and knowledge.
Summary: Small businesses don’t need a large budget or staff to follow specific steps. A marketing professional with the right personality for your business and expertise in driving measurement results can help you achieve both short- and long-term goals.