Many business owners never develop a marketing plan for their companies, usually because they are too busy. However, armed with a pen, paper, and the right questions you can give yourself a huge edge in an hour or less by creating a simple marketing template.
Step 1: Determine where your business is now.
• How many clients do you have?
• How much money did you make last year?
• What is the size of your potential market?
• What did you spend on marketing?
Step 2: Write down your goals.
• How many clients do you want?
• How much money do you want to make?
Step 3: Determine how much you are willing to spend on marketing. The typical answer I get to this question is “as much as it takes,” which of course is never true. Other answers include “I don’t know” or “I’m willing to spend it if I get a return.” However hard it is to come up with a marketing budget, you have to do this in order to have any chance of measuring your results. Despite what you may have read, there is no typical percentage or formula. Budgets should be based on what you want to achieve. If you want a 50% increase in business, it’s not going to be achieved from a percentage of last summer’s miserable income.
Step 4: Gather marketing materials. You might have brochures, sales letters, testimonials, bios, history, and past newspaper articles. Collect the marketing materials of three competitors. Collect materials from three companies in your industry that you most admire regardless of where they are located. Get together anything you can draw on for inspiration in your new campaign.
Step 5: Define your perfect client. The better you are at defining your customers, the easier and more effective your marketing will be. What do you know about your top twenty percent? Write down what they all have in common. They are the people who pay the bills so they are the people you must design your marketing effort around, not the customers who spend only a few dollars a year. Get the name, address, and email of everyone who ever walks through your door, visits your website, or calls on the phone. Offer special discounts, free cruises, or whatever it takes, but collect that data; it’s more precious than gold.
Step 6: Re-design your brochures, flyers, website, and collateral materials. These should be more focused on attracting your perfect clients, the people with whom you most want to do business in the future. They should be full of BENEFITS to your customers. Okay, this part takes more than an hour if you do it yourself, but the rest doesn’t.
Step 7: Focus first on increasing sales and referrals from existing clients. Many people are so eager to pursue new clients that they often forget that the greatest and quickest sales gains always come from within. Mail and email your existing customer base more often. Ask for referrals at every contact and offer upgrades in service to all you already do business with.
Step 8: Find mailing lists that match the characteristics of your perfect clients. The more specific that group is, the more effective your marketing will be. Direct mail still offers the most tangible form of marketing. Email marketing can also be effective when it’s targeted.
Step 9: Set up the criteria by which you will measure response to your efforts. There is an old management maxim that says what gets measured gets done. In marketing what gets measured gets rated for effectiveness and then is either increased or dropped depending on the results.
Step 10: Start implementing the new campaign. Choose the right timing for your campaign so that it can be kicked off with maximum effectiveness. For example, if you live in Florida and own a golf course, you probably won’t want to do this in August.