A Refreshing Look at Marketing!

  photo by christian.senger

We had a great discussion the other day in one of my Peer Group Advisory Board meetings on marketing ideas for a typical small business.  There are lots of things that are important when it comes to marketing:

  • Understanding who is your best target market,
  • Understanding the benefits and outcomes you deliver to that target market,
  • Effective ways to communicate those benefits and outcomes (message and medium)
  • A brand and a style that fits your core values and strengths

However in terms of succeeding with those marketing efforts, nothing is more important than being consistent.  Just like you can count on the sun setting this afternoon (with or without the beer and the view) you should also count on consistent marketing efforts if you want to keep moving forward with your business.

I wrote about this topic about a year ago – What You Need to Win the Marketing Game and covered a lot of the ideas behind what consistency is all about and why it’s important – both in your message and your activities.

What I didn’t cover last year were ideas on how to build up that consistency – hopefully you’re on board that it’s critical (if not read last year’s post) and if you’re like most business owners you’re currently not very consistent, so what do you need to do to develop that consistency?

Start with a plan!

There’s no real rocket science to this – my recommendation is to carve out some time and write down the marketing strategies that you either are currently doing (that are effective) or that you believe you should be doing that would be effective.

Typically a small business should have somewhere between 3 to  7 marketing tactics going on at any given time.  This should be a mix between short term, long term and passive strategies.  As an example, short term strategies are those that can be worked quickly with quick response – direct mail, a referral system, seminars, etc.  Long term strategies are things that will take time to pay off – blogging, articles, networking, strategic alliances, etc.  Finally passive strategies generally don’t drive direct action but support other activities (i.e. website, Social Media, yellow pages, newsletter, etc.).

Once you’ve got a good mix of tactics that you’re comfortable with then you need to develop expectations on when and how often you’re going to do those tactics.  So if networking is one of your key tactics, how many networking events are going to attend every month (or every week)?  How many workshops / seminars are you going to present?

You could document this on a calendar, but another way of documenting and tracking your activities is to use a simple spreadsheet – here’s an example one you can use as a starting point:  SimpleMktplan.xls

Figure out what works!

One of the enemies of consistency is the pressure to try new tactics – if you’re having a rough month or two, then you’ll want to try something new.  Or maybe you get called by a persuasive salesperson selling ad space in a magazine.

Whatever it is, before you pull the trigger to change up your marketing mix do a quick evaluation of what you’re currently doing.  You should be tracking leads and sales relative to the different marketing activities and at least have an idea of what’s working and what’s not.

Would it make more sense to focus on the strategies you already have before turning to something new?  Is there something that’s working well that you could do more of?

Regardless of what anyone says, there are no silver bullet marketing techniques (low cost, easy to do that generates lots of leads).  So before you jump into something new, take the time to look at what you’re currently doing.

Make marketing a priority

Marketing can be tough to embrace – you don’t get the instant feedback you get from sales, in fact by definition you are at least a couple of steps away from closing a sale when you do marketing.  You’re generating interest – potential leads that may or may not actually choose to buy so it can be a challenge to keep that as a top priority.

However the worst thing you could do is to lose the focus on your marketing activities.  The seeds you plant today are tomorrow’s harvest (to use an overused cliché!).

Actively schedule blocks of time to make sure that your marketing activities are getting the attention they need.  Assign the responsibility (and the expected results) to someone in your company so that it doesn’t become a ‘when we get time’ type of activity.

A lot of businesses, especially the smaller ones, are familiar with the feast and famine cycle of find the work, do the work, then find the work all over again.  Consistent marketing is the key to breaking that cycle – what do you do to keep your marketing consistent?  I’d love to hear other thoughts in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach