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I am frequently asked questions about how to develop marketing strategies for small businesses, entrepreneurs and solo-preneurs.
So, in today’s post, I’ll share a few tips with you.
How to Develop Marketing Strategies – Step 1
The first thing you need to do is determine the basics – the 3 M’s of marketing – your market, your message and your media. You can read more about these items in my ‘Marketing Concepts‘ posts and articles.
Once you are clear on who your target market is, what the message is that you want to share and some of the media through which you can reach your target audience, you can start to build your strategy.
How to Develop Marketing Strategies – Step 2
The next step is to take a closer look at the media options you have selected. Now you want to determine, step-by-step, what you will do to get your message out through the different types of media.
As an example, lets say you’ve chosen direct mail as your media. Now you have almost unlimited options about what you can send and when you will send it.
Since most strategies will work best with multiple steps, the process of developing the marketing strategy will really be about figuring out the steps and touch-points you want in your direct mail campaign.
What you include will, in part, depend on the product or service you are marketing. You could include 1 or more post cards, letters, gifts (which could really include anything)…and basically anything from a rock with a message and postage on it to a prescription bottle with a message in it. The more creative you are the more likely it is that your mail will be opened and your message will be seen.
As you plan out the steps, you also should determine the timing for each piece, creating a calendar to follow as you implement.
How to Develop Marketing Strategies – Step 3
Now all you need to do is work on creating the marketing pieces themselves, with or without the support of others – including copy writers, graphic designers, direct mail specialists, etc., and begin to implement your marketing strategy.
If developing marketing strategy for your business is something that challenges you, you can work with a marketing consultant or coach to help you not just create them, but learn how to do it moving forward. Then, you can take what you learn and implement those strategies on your own or with your team.
When it comes to knowing how to develop a marketing strategy, it’s really pretty straight-forward. It’s a step-by-step process, like most other things in business and in life. You have choices and decisions to make, and once you put things out there, you will want to track the results and make incremental changes to continue to make your strategies more and more effective.
If you are curious about building strong marketing strategies for your business, then you’ll want to check out my upcoming Marketing in the Morning™ webinar – it’s live and free – you can register here.
Have you done a ‘secret shopper’ experience with your business?
Checking on your employees phone skills, sending someone to your physical location to see how your sales people do or browsing through your website regularly can help identify places where you might be shutting out buyers. You spend loads of time and money getting prospects to your business – isn’t it worth instituting a regular ‘check-up’ process to make sure you aren’t automatically slamming the door in your hard-won prospects face?
You might even be blaming your marketing, thinking what you are doing is not working, when the real problem is not that people aren’t knocking on your door – heck they might even be pounding on it – but their experience in trying to buy from you makes them run off fuming.
Think about your own experiences with difficult purchasing processes. It’s worth the investment to take some time to make sure the experience you are offering your prospects and clients the best possible experience that you can. Script the people who answer your phones – coach them on using the script and make sure they understand why it’s there, what it’s for and why each point in the script is important. It takes time for people to get comfortable with scripts, but that’s ok. Top professionals, actors, athletes – everyone who succeeds at top levels use scripts. You don’t want your sales people to sound scripted, so they need to learn it and make sure that each point in the script is covered, even if they stray from it after learning it.
If you need help designing and defining the processes to stay on top of you sales people and prospect interactions, check out the Customized Marketing Solutions Session – it’s the perfect way to get help clarifying, testing and fixing where you could be stopping your prospect in their tracks.
One of single best methods ever for marketing your business in the ‘offline’ world, even to this day is Direct Response Mail Marketing. And, you can take well designed direct mail strategies and campaigns online as well, building them in email, with sales pages, and even on social media.
The first step with any direct mail strategy is getting really clear on your target market. I recently heard a story about a direct mail campaign for a hearing aid company. After some research they discovered that someone who was married, who had a living spouse was something like 30% more likely to buy a hearing aid (I can’t remember the exact numbers, but it was seriously impressive). Then, when they dug a bit further, they discovered that someone who is married, with a living spouse who also owns their own home is even 20% more likely, on top of the 30% to buy a hearing aid (again – I don’t remember the exact numbers, but it was something like this). If you get that clear on who you want to target you can buy a list using that very specific criteria, which will make your campaign trounce average direct mail strategies.
The next step in developing your direct mail strategies, is to design your campaign with multiple steps. Multiple steps will outsell single step mailings every time. You also want to spend some time learning copywriting, or hire someone to write your sales letter to make it highly effective. You have about 3.5 seconds to grab someones attention when they receive your mail – you don’t want to screw that up.
Also, it is essential to make sure there is a very specific offer and a reason to respond NOW (you need to create sense of urgency). Be sure that the instructions on how to respond to the offer are very clear – what do you want them to do? Do you want them to call? Visit your website? Come into your office? (Also, you will generally get a better response with more options of response – so you don’t just want to include your website, give them a number to call (toll free or not – you should test that to see which brings a better quality lead).
You also want to make sure you track and measure the process – that is often why businesses use coupon codes – you know exactly how someone got to you if they are using a specific coupon code.
Be sure to be creative, outrageous even – reaching out and grabbing people by the collar makes them sit up and take notice.
A good direct response sales letter can turn a business around, and can often be used for many years. Learn to write a good sales letter, find out as much as you can about target market and buy a list of the people who fit in it, then test your letter, then use what you learn to make the campaign even more effective.
Remember, multiple mailings out-pull single mailings – a second mailing will often double the overall response.
If you aren’t sure how to get started and want some help, take a look here.
The answer? EVERYTHING.
Your business is dependent – completely dependent – on your niche. If you don’t have one, you are effectively shooting yourself in the foot.
There’s a saying in marketing, “If you’re for everyone, you’re for NO ONE.” It’s time to pay attention to that…
Most entrepreneurs, particularly when they are starting out, think that their product or service is good for everyone… if you are one of them, go back and read that previous sentence again. Making a decision to be FOR someone is absolutely essential to the success of your business. You must learn niche marketing, targeting your product’s or service’s message to a specific niche.
Here’s an example of an excellent niche… Goddess Boudoir Photography. The very talented Jessica Morrisy – who is an outstanding photographer, put together a niche for her business doing boudoir photography for women. It is abundantly clear that not everyone will want to use this service, but for those who are interested, she stands out as a great option. No worries about asking some random photographer if s/he is willing to do it – here’s someone who’s standing up and saying, “Hey, over here – I do exactly that!” Very smart, Jessica took the time to learn niche marketing, she selected a niche that would work well for her, and went for it. From what I understand, it’s working VERY well for her.
For most entrepreneurs, choosing a niche is like pulling teeth – they just don’t want to do it. I suggest that you take some time, look around you at the success of the small businesses and entrepreneurs and see who’s growing fastest. I can almost guarantee they have a clearly defined niche – in fact, they may have multiple niches – which is a great option, but let’s just start with one. If you aren’t sure, take a look at where most of your clients and customers are coming from – see if something has already begun to stand out. If not, then go back and do some research on which niche is most likely to respond best to your product or service. It doesn’t mean you can never work with other people, it just means you are going to stand up and say, “I’m FOR dentists,” or, “I’m for dog owners,” or whatever your specific niche may be.
Take some time to learn niche marketing – it will make a huge difference in your bottom line.
Great video of a Space Shuttle launch and then camera footage from one of the falling solid fuel tanks…
Earlier today, while walking down the sidewalk I started thinking about how ‘launching’ a business seems to be very much like ‘launching’ a space craft. A huge amount of the total fuel needed to accomplish the mission is required at the very beginning in a tireless, intense, speedy thrust.
When you are just starting out it’s important to remember that you will need to be intense, persistent and pour tons of energy, passion and creativity into igniting your business. Once things are moving steadily along, it will still require fuel and energy to continue movement, but it will have some momentum and will be easier to keep it going that it is to start it.
So, when you have one of those days where there is so much to do you feel overwhelmed, when you are running out of steam and you aren’t sure you can keep going, think about the Space Shuttle, and remember that keeping that intensity going for a bit longer may be all it takes to help you reach orbit – where you’ll need to steady direction and continue on your mission, but you won’t need that huge expense of energy to keep things going.
And, if you are struggling with feeling overwhelmed or are feeling tired, you may need to take a break to re-fuel. Listen to what you need, take a walk, go to bed early – do whatever you need to replenish, and then come back and pour your energy into that launch again. Eventually, the ‘launch’ phase will end, you’ll need to continue to work hard, but some things will stabilize and you’ll be able to focus on different aspects of creating a successful business.