Where to Start When Creating a Marketing Strategy

Now that you are ready to start taking your marketing more seriously, it is good for you to first know what you are getting into. Marketing does have a cost but doesn’t always need a big investment. It does take time from you and your fellow coworkers but does not have to be all consuming either.

The first thing you will need is a strategy. At first make it simple, otherwise you will get bogged down in details and never follow through on it. I promise that this can be fun and even interesting. This strategy can be as simple as improving your existing website, creating a Facebook page and claiming your Google listing.

The key is doing an evaluation of your resources, a little bit of research and having your action items. A lot of this will depend upon a few things.

• Your Industry
• A new or existing business
• Do you have a physical location open to the public
• Are you working from your kitchen
• Are you an online business only
• Do you provide services at your customer location

Step 1: budget
Step 2: Customers
Step 3: Competitors
Step 4: Strategy
Step 5: Research
Step 6: Execution

Step One: Establish a Marketing Budget

Many companies try to determine what they need and then become disheartened when they realize they have put time and research into something they were not willing to pay for. Think about how much business you will need and the dollar value attached to it. Now figure out how much money you will be willing to spend to acquire that business. That is your marketing budget.Try breaking it down to a monthly cost.

If you have to get your van wrapped and also need to run ppc ads online, you will need to know how much you are willing to spend on each.If you do not have a budget, you might run out and spend more than your budget allotted and be sad that you cant get the phone to ring.

This will help you to make a decision of whether you might have gone with a magnetic sign on that van for the first three months and were able to receive website leads from running Adwords. Think of it as if you were Christmas shopping. You go out with all good intentions. You find a fantastic must have gift for your friend. When you get home you realize you bought a single gift for one friend and you still have 7 more to go. Unfortunately you spent over half your budget on one person.

I tell you this because I have worked with numerous clients that spent far more on building a website and have no budget left for getting it to be found through SEO, Pay Per Click or any other number of ways to promote a site online.

Step Two: Know Your Customers

Always work on finding out who your customers are and how they most likely will find your business. If you are in a very rural are where people still use the phone book as their go to source, then a listing and possibly and advertisement will be a part of that strategy.

You want to think of all the possible ways your potential clients could follow this maze where the endpoint is them making that call or walking into your establishment.

“I found you because of the mailer you sent me”

“When I Googled plumber, your name came up first”

“You did work at my neighbors house so I got your phone number off the truck”

Step Three: Get to know who your competitors are

It cannot be overstated how much you can learn from your competitors. Especially the ones that are getting most of the market share. If you the top company in your area doing TV advertising, you can bet it’s because it is effective. Not all businesses can afford this so within your strategy, this could be a future goal.

What else are they and the other competitors doing?

We also want to truly understand our competitors. If they don’t really compete aginst you, then they aren’t really a competitor. If you do residential landscaping and the biggest company in the area only does commercial properties, then they aren’t in fact, competitors. It is important to know this so you are not spinning your wheels on tactices that are not effective in attracting your ideal customers.

Step Four: Develop a Marketing Strategy

I recommend making a one page document when starting out. To get there, here is a helpful checklist to determine some of the basics to think of when putting this together.

Small Business Marketing Marketing Checklist

Your strategy is a working document. The reason we start out as one page is so we can get a clear view of what needs to be done to accomplish your goals. Knowing you need a logo is helpful and creates the initiative, but after we need to attribute the cost, it’s priority level, the thought process and research that will go into it. If you start out with this all at once, you will get bogged down and find it difficult to move forward.

Each item that needs to be addressed can be taken care of over time. I generally find most businesses have more support than they realize. Yes, your employees have many responsibilities within your company, but many have talents that are unknown to you because it was never relevant to their tasks. You’d be surprised how many artists, photographers, writers, videographers, social media maniacs and numerous other talents that are right there in your own building. You sometimes need only ask.

Step Five: Research the Marketing Strategies

What does it take to get these initiatives off the ground? If you are going to take out an ad in a local magazine:

• Do you need a graphic designer?
• What is the cost of the advertisement?
• What is the makeup of the audience you will reach?
• What is the offer to the consumers that the ad will be focused upon?
• How many competitors are already advertising in each of the publications?

We constantly want to weigh effort and cost verses potential results. Just because we put it on our strategy, doesn’t mean it is effective. Your working document is just that. If something on the document doesn’t work for you then it either gets delayed or is removed all together.

To get good at marketing, you need to be willing to let go of a good idea for the simple matter of it won’t work. The really good ones are the ones willing to stop spending money on a good idea because the results prove it doesn’t work. Being able to stop throwing good money after bad sounds logical, but you’d be surprised how many businesses have trouble accepting this concept.

Step Six: Start Executing and Improving Your Marketing Strategy

Set your priorities based upon immediate effect and step by step progression of list items. You shouldn’t spend a thousand dollars wrapping your vehicle if you don’t have a logo (if a logo is part of the plan, that is). If you know it will take six months to build an email list from customers, then don’t spend marketing dollars on creating a branded email template.

This is a strategy that will require constant enhancement and a lot of testing. Luckily the digital world allows for testing at minimal cost, so take advantage of this fact.

This website will hopefully be able to navigate a lot of the marketing paths that are out there. No one strategy is right for every business or every industry for that matter.

Feel free to contact me with any questions.