5 Ways to Jumpstart your Marketing Strategy in 2016

marketing strategy

photo credit: Dollar Photo Club

It’s resolution time:

  • You’ve already been to the gym this morning
  • You haven’t eaten anything bad for you (but tastes so good!) in at least 24 hours
  • You’re actively thinking about your Marketing Strategy right now

Great!  Let’s build on that last one (I have a hard enough time with the other two myself…)

The New Year brings about a fervent desire to be better and do better. Directing these desires towards your business is always at the top of the list for small business owners.  But where to start?  So here are five tips that will help you create an effective marketing strategy for your business.

The good news is – a couple of hours of dedicated “think time” this week is all you need to get these down (write them down!) and then get to work – Resolution Kept!

1. Know your business’s goals

Ask yourself where you want the business to go. You know the answer here better than anyone – after all, the business is a reflection of you.  What can you really achieve this year?  What could you achieve through a focused, purposeful approach to growing your business this year?  How will you communicate this and hold everyone (including you) accountable for achieving these goals?  Keep them S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

2. Identify your ideal target customers

Understanding whom you are selling to (and who you aren’t) is critically important because it can save you a lot of time and energy. Let’s look at the example of a dental clinic. The target base for that business is not every single person who needs a dentist. Instead, it is the people who need a dentist with ready access to the clinic and have a specific need for a service you’re uniquely qualified to provide (e.g., implants or cosmetic dentistry). Firing unprofitable customers and not targeting unprofitable prospects is an important part of your marketing strategy.  Think about whom your 10 best customers are and what you need to do to attract 10 more just like them!

3.  Identify what the business is selling and what customers are really buying

Whatever your business is selling must be in line with your business values and goals. Sometimes this answer isn’t as clear as you might think. For example, if you own a dental clinic, the easy answer is you are selling dental care. However, you might also be selling some other things without realizing it. Ask your customers why they choose to do business with you. They might mention things like comfort or simplicity or convenience. For example, people like to go to clinics where they feel good about the experience more so than just the practical matter of dental care.  Ask your best customers what they like most about doing business with you and why they keep doing business with you – the answers may surprise you and will get to the core of your reputation, which can be a unique competitive advantage for your business.

4. Look at the Competition

Looking at your competition can be incredibly motivating. It can also help you identify where your business is going wrong (or on the flip side, what it is excelling). Consider the ways in which your customer base, products/services, and goals compare to your competitors. Set Google Alerts for each of your competitors (or use a service like BuzzSumo) to help monitor what they are saying and doing and then consider how this could impact your marketing strategies.  Do not assume that just because they are doing something different that they are better – keep in mind who you’re targeting and view your research in light of your strategies.

5. Understand the Necessary Investments

Creating and executing your marketing strategy is a matter of time and money. You should budget for both of these things. It is very important to have a marketing strategy, but you also have to consider implementation.  Do It Yourself Marketing is certainly a viable option, but also consider if partnering with a marketing expert for planning and execution while you run your business would be a faster path to success.  While there are dozens (if not hundreds) of ways you can promote your business to your target market, choosing a path and then adjusting as results come in can be a time-consuming process that an outside expert can handle more smoothly.

With a couple of hours this week spent thinking through these five steps and putting a plan in place you can begin to deliver exciting growth for your business and stay on the path to profits that will outpace your competition.  Happy New Year!  

Bonus Tip: Block time (and follow through) on monitoring your strategy and plans each week (or at least every other week) throughout the year.  If you’re dedicated to growing your business I can assure you that focused attention on your Marketing plan will be an area where your competition will give up long before you do – opening the door to growth.

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 11.30.05 AMMark Z. Fortune, founder of Fortune Marketing, LLC, advises small businesses on marketing strategies to ensure that sales and marketing investments return positive results. Mark is a Master Duct Tape Marketing Consultant who believes small business marketing challenges are not insurmountable; they can be met with a focused approach leveraging the principles of the Duct Tape Marketing System. He is also a co-author of the recent Amazon Bestseller The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Local Lead Generation. More information is available at www.fortunemarketinginc.com and www.localleadgenbook.com

 

What Makes a Good Marketing Strategy?

Let’s begin with an answer to the question “What is marketing strategy?’. This popular expression tends to be mistaken with promotion or advertising strategy. Marketing strategy shows how you’re going to use your 4 Ps – product, promotion, price and place, to improve your business results. Your marketing strategy should answer these 4 questions: what you are going to sell, how you are going to price it, where potential customers will be able to find your products and how you are going to promote it. On the top of that, it should contain goals you want to achieve so that you’re able to see how effective your strategy is.

So how to build a good marketing strategy? I’ll walk you through all 4 elements of marketing mix, show you best practices and give a few tips. Following these guidelines will help you create a strong and effective marketing strategy with little effort.

4 Ps

1. Product

The first step is to define your product (or services). What do you sell? If you’ve been around for some time, look at the structure of your revenue. What do people buy the most frequently? Pareto rule probably works well and 20% of products secure 80% of revenue. Identifying them will help you promote them better.

Also, you can consider adding new products. Doing it blindly can be dangerous, this is why you can ask your visitors or customer what they would like you to offer.

Tip: take a look at this case study to learn how RaveNectar used surveys to find out what visitors want him to sell.

2. Price

Now you know what you’re selling. How to set prices to maximize your profit? Some would say ‘Rise prices – you will grow your margins!’, some would say ‘Cut prices – you will attract more customers!’. I won’t tell you which solution is the best for you. What you should do to find it out is to test. You can raise or cut prices of some products by a few percent and observe what happens.

It’s more difficult when you’re about to start a new business – you don’t have data to compare. What you can do is to analyze pricing strategies of your competitors and conduct a small market research.

Tip: if you want to know more about setting prices, take a look at this guide based on experience with pricing experiments. 

3. Place

How are you going to reach buyers? It’s a tough question even for brick and mortar stores – there are hundreds of ways you can arrange products on shelves, you can even consider going online. You can also sell your products in your own store or offer it to resellers. There are many options you to consider.

If you already sell products in your online store, you can consider selling products on platforms like eBay or Amazon to reach even more customers.

4.Promotion

Products rarely sell themselves and promotion is a key to a successful business. You can offer great products for low prices in a fantastic store but you will quickly go broke if you have 0 customers. This can be the most complicated issue due to a number of possible options. You can advertise your business on social media, run AdWords or display campaigns, try marketing or content marketing, retargeting and a number of other online marketing techniques. On the top of that, there are all the techniques of offline and local marketing you can consider.

Tip: you can look for inspiration here

To make your marketing strategy strong, you should focus on all points because only then they will fulfill each other. Example: cutting prices won’t bring satisfying results if you don’t promote discounts. On the other hand, raising prices won’t help neither if you don’t upgrade your store or a website to make it look more high-end or offer additional services.

Don’t forget about setting goals

Before you implement your marketing strategy, think about metrics you will use to track progress. It can be profit, revenue, a number of sold items or any other metric that will clearly show your progress. The next step is to prepare a detailed action plan. What and when are you going to do and what are the expected results? To make planning easier, you can use a technique of setting SMART goals. It means they should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bounding. More on this topic and a free template

After implementing your marketing strategy, keep track of your progress. Did you want to double your revenue in 12 months but after 6 months there’s only 10% increase? Then you should go back to sketching board. Check which actions brought expected results and which didn’t work. Then think why it happened and how you can improve your performance. Implementing results of such analysis can lead you to significant gains and thus make goals more likely to be achieved.

 

Lucjan Kierczak headshot 150x150Lucjan Kierczak is an inbound marketer at Survicate– an app that makes collecting feedback from customers easy and quick. Collected answers will show you what your visitors expect from you, what problems they face or what’s preventing them from buying. You can find Lucjan on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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