Most small business owners don’t have one, yet those that do, can’t live without it. So just what is this silver bullet? Quite simply, it’s a business marketing plan.
Before you go running off thinking “Whatever!” let me clear something up.
The kind of business marketing plan I’m referring to is not an academic exercise found in text books on marketing, nor is it templated mumbo jumbo. I won’t ask you to determine your share of the market. Seriously, share of the market? Most small business owners just need to work out how to get ten more customers.
A business marketing plan simply answers who you are, what you do, who needs it, how you plan to get their attention, when you plan to do it and how you plan to pay for it…in a way that everyone in your business, network and client base clearly understands.
Yet in my experience, small business owners are doers, not planners. While doing is good, without direction, it leads to “marketing idea of the week” syndrome and hinders any chance a small business has for real growth.
Take one day, follow these seven simple steps to creating the most potent small business marketing tool on Earth, and your life will become much simpler.
Step 1: Narrow your market focus
Who are you doing most of your business with? Work out why they do business with you and what about them is unique. Write one paragraph that describes what they look like. Take a good hard look at the rest of your clients 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
What is it that you do best? Work out what your target market needs and tell them just how you do that like no one else. Maybe it’s serving a niche, a form of service, or a way you package your products. You probably don’t know what it is. Call up three or more clients and ask them why they buy from you.
Step 3: Develop core messages
Create several very compelling benefits of doing business with you and work them into everything you say and do. Just remember, it’s only a benefit if your clients think it is. Your clients don’t buy what you sell…they buy your solution to their problem.
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Step 4: Ensure your marketing materials educate
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, not customers. You must find ways to educate before you sell. Your target market needs to learn how you provide value in a way that will make them want to pay a premium. You simply can’t do this in an advertisement. Your ad needs to get them to ask for more information…then you can begin selling.
Step 6: Expect referrals
You must create a referral engine that systematically turns clients and referral networks into a 24 hour marketing powerhouse. The first step is to make providing referrals easy and low risk.
Step 7: Live by a calendar
After completing steps one to six, determine what you need to do to action them and then schedule them on a calendar. The mistake most small business owners make is to get overwhelmed when they realise how much they really need to. If you can begin to schedule one or two activities each month, in six months you will find that you have a fully developed referral system, new website, and a lead generation system. Slow and steady wins the race.
Does a business marketing plan underpin your business? What are the elements that have most successfully driven business your way? Let us know below.