Business Techniques in Troubled Times has been running a series of nine articles on Effective Marketing. This article sums them up. To see them all, go to Marketing | Thomas H. Gray – Consultant, CEO, Director. The key ideas are:
1. Effective marketing is one of the three crucial elements for survival of a small business. Marketing is more than communications. It includes choosing the right target market, selecting your differentiation and positioning, designing your product, pricing, distribution, sales and service tactics to support that positioning, and then communicating effectively to the right audience within a manageable budget.
2. Today marketing communications (“marcom”) starts with the Internet. You will use traditional and social media to draw prospects to your website.
3. Your Marketing Plan supports a reasonable sales forecast, a key input to your financial forecast.
4. Your customer data base is one of your most important assets – the tool for targeted communications to unlock your revenue potential.
Start Here: Marketing Planning
|Sales Forecast||Customer Database|
|The Market Itself:
(Go to Strategy and Tactics)
|Planning:- Audience- Marcom Goals- Tools
(Go to Media)
|- Units over time- Avg. Price- Revenue- Variable Cost
- Cash Cycle
(go to Customer Database)
|-Contents- Reports- Design for Reports- Using Reports to generate revenue
|Strategy & Tactics:
-Distribution and sales
(go to Marcom Planning)
|Media:- Traditional Media- Website- Social Media
(go to Sales Forecast)
Summary of the Articles
Planning Your Marketing: The Market Itself – who are the customers for the need you are meeting? Are you on the right side of the trends affecting this target market? Is your solution different enough from their other alternatives? If not, you will not succeed!
Planning Your Marketing: Strategy and Tactics – how do you want your target market to think of your company? Can you sum it up in a memorable positioning slogan? Select your goals, and choose an overall strategy for making a dent in this market. Then define your 4 P’s and customer service plans to support that strategy and positioning and achieve the goals.
Anatomy of a Useful Sales Forecast – how many sales will you make over time? What will they be worth in revenue? How much will it cost to make and deliver those units? When will you have you spend for production vs. when will you get the cash from sales? Your sales forecast depends on the rest of your marketing planning, and it is critical to your other financial forecasts. Use reality testing to be sure it is reasonable.
Marketing Communications Plan: Audience, Goals, Tools, Budget – how will you get your message across amid all the clutter of communications that your audience faces every day? How will you inform and persuade prospects, and remind current customers to buy again? Will you use advertising, promotions, events, direct mail, and/or social media? How do you decide how much can you afford to spend? Be sure to consider costs for website and social media development, as well as costs to develop ads and buy media time.
Marketing Communications Plan: Media – what traditional media fits your audience and your product? What does it cost? You want to have a steady presence so you are considered when the prospect decides it is time to buy. Since media can only communicate limited information, you will want to attract prospects to your website where you can tell the whole story. How will you do that within budget?
Tips for Your Website – this is the front door to your business. Make sure you use a professional designer, but the content is your job. Take a disciplined approach to organizing your site, keeping the user in mind throughout. As a small business, one of your most important goals with your website is to communicate credibility. Do that with professional appearance, clear and valuable information, endorsements and success stories. Learn how to update the website with current information and do so frequently. A stale website makes relationships go stale as well, undermining its basic purpose.
Tips for Using Social Media to Market Your Business – social media is about gaining relationships by providing value. Maintaining relationships provides the presence you need to be considered when prospects decide it is time to buy, or buy again. Use multiple social media. Plan your posts with a calendar, and “repurpose” your content in various media. Make sure you are listening and build relationships with two-way communications: be active with likes, comments, and discussions.
Customer Data Base: The Key to Unlock Revenue – this is your tool to identify your best customers in order to find more like them, and to motivate repeat sales, the easiest and most profitable type of sales. Design your customer record to hold the information you anticipate needing for these two goals. Then design your operations to generate and enter that information in the normal course of business.
Using Customer Data Base Reports – before designing the master customer record, design the customer data base reports you’ll want to use. What will you use them for? What information will you need to make it easy to do that? Consider how the reports will be sorted, and then set up the data elements in the customer record so your reports will be able to find and use that data as envisioned. It’s much harder to add or revise data elements later than it is to build them correctly at the outset. If you do this right, your marketing communications can flow smoothly and efficiently, so you’ll actually be able to do what you planned to do!
Effective marketing is the key to your success, so take the time to make realistic plans and develop the tools you will need to carry them out. Your business depends on it!
Tom Gray helps owners save and grow their companies. He is a management consultant focused on small business and telecom, a Certified Turnaround Professional (CTP), a Certified Business Development Advisor, and a Certified SCORE Mentor. He can be reached at 630-512-0406 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See www.tom-gray.com