Working with Intention Towards Marketing
We see marketing as necessary, we just don’t budget for it. And we don’t have a plan, no clue how to build one. We try stuff and hope it works. How much should we spend on marketing? How many things should we be trying? How do we figure out what to invest in for the future?
THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Marketing is complex and most owners lack a comprehensive approach. Taking wild guesses is a popular approach, but not the best way to proceed. Improve your chances of getting what you want by defining where it is you want to go. Test, test, test, then commit.
Let’s face it, marketing is not a strength in most small businesses. There isn’t a marketing department, the budget is based on whatever is available to spend and the lack of planning makes it hard to reap consistent rewards. And yet, marketing can be the fuel that drives the business to the next level of growth and profit. With enough market awareness and demand, a company gets to choose its best customers, expand distribution of its best products or services and deposit and keep more money in the bank.
Why don’t more businesses tackle marketing as a specialty? Marketing is complex and complicated. It requires research, discipline and patience — three things most entrepreneurs find hard to come by.
It’s so much easier to take pot shots in marketing. Who hasn’t jumped on a marketing suggestion that seemed to have merit? After all, it takes so much time and effort to lay the foundation for a short-, mid- and long-range plan. But then, consider this; how often have your marketing efforts delivered consistent, reliable,
Try switching from guessing to knowing. Start with research. What do prospects want? What do customers want? What are competitors offering? What’s new? What’s most profitable? Where do customers and prospects get their information? How much information and education do buyers want? What’s a customer’s life cycle of a purchase, from curiosity to forking over big bucks? Research doesn’t have to be complicated. It does require talking to customers and prospects in a systematic way, so that you can analyze the information you’re getting from multiple sources.
What’s your goal? More revenue? Greater profits? New customers? Expanding sales to existing customers? Launching new products? Opening up new geography? Learning about competitors? Making a greater return on what you spend in marketing within a specific time frame?
Lay out a set of very specific goals for the company overall. Develop a very clear picture of where you want the company to go during the next several years. Share that picture with people around you and ask them if they understand.
Analyze how marketing can help you accomplish your goals. Think about where you might come up short. Consider what it would cost you and the company if you missed out on the goals you’ve set and how the company would benefit if the goals were fully achieved. The delta between those two is what your marketing efforts are worth to you.
Lay out a plan to test various approaches. You probably can’t afford to test everything, everywhere, all at once. So test a few things to get started. When you find something that works, put it into action. When things don’t produce the results you want, take them off the list and then start testing something else.
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