Many owners and managers of small and mid-size companies determine the marketing strategy they want to pursue in response to a specific incident. Rather than take the time to develop a marketing plan specific to their business objectives, they use quick fix solution to address broader issues. Does this sound like you?
- The new company needs a logo. Make logo.
- Sales are down. Run the ad.
- new office location. Send out a direct mail piece.
- Holidays are coming. Send holiday greeting cards.
While all of these methods may be good ideas, they are not part of a coherent plan to grow and develop your customer base and maximize their contribution to business success. By themselves they may be mildly effective and deliver short-term results, but no one method will maintain your brand.
A better way to grow your business is to develop an integrated brand development and marketing plan. Not as difficult as it sounds, full branding and marketing strategy is a road map to keep you on track and focused on objectives, budget and performance. Here are eight steps that we use to build a marketing strategy.
What are your goals and objectives?
Record all measurable goals like sales increases, results of survey and P & L standards as well as softer targets such as skills training for employees and the community.
Your business goals and objectives should lead you to the message. The what, why, where, when, which is important to customers. Because this is the key to the meaning of your business you may want to bring a marketing expert in working with your team on the focus points and how to craft concise, viable message that will affect the positive feedback from your audience.
Determine marketing budget
It is so important that you have an idea of what you can afford before you start planning your strategy. Many companies budget based on what they spent last year, but it is not always valid. Some companies use a percent of sales as a benchmark, examine their standards as a reference. Whether you use, be sure to consider factors such as new product launches and expansion plans when setting your budget.
Which client groups influence each goal?
Look at both internal and external customers to better understand where your marketing needs are greatest and identify target customer groups. Plan to use every customer interaction to your advantage. Begin to attach numbers volume for each objective.
How can you reach your target customers?
Take time to analyze routine target customers to better understand how they can best get information. There are always many ways to achieve the given budget. Review all the selling techniques used by your company and the industry. Direct sales and indirect sales will require different support to grow sales.
Analyze Your Options
Multi-channel marketing is almost endless. Even businesses on a strict budget can diversify their approach to a wider audience. A marketing professional should be able to provide options, costs, expected return and will work with you to confirm the findings.
Put a number to each project and assess performance against goals and objectives. Not all of your marketing efforts will be on target, but as you progress through your plans you will begin to better understand customer preferences and how to drive better results.
Course right … and continue!
Do not stop marketing efforts for failed projects. Tear it apart, analyze why it failed and move on. One of the most damage mistakes small and mid-size companies make is to stop advertising or marketing when business is tough. That’s when you need to market clarity and focus most. Review budget based on performance and require creative, cost effective solution from the marketing team. Keep in the game — you can not win if you do not play!
The amount of effort you and your team put into building and supporting marketing strategy is always reflected in the performance of your business. Take the time to create a brand message worth sending and put it out there as often as you can. Marketing should be dynamic and exciting part of the company strategic plan, part of the face and voice of the institution. Make each impression a good one.