A Short Marketing Survival Primer
An old saying … Don’t Go into The Woods Without A Plan. You might not come out.
It’s hard to believe. But statistics show that small business owners do not understand the importance of marketing. They routinely undervalue its vital role in their business growth. We’ve worked with multi-million-dollar companies that did not have an integrated marketing plan.
If you want your service business marketing to be successful then you should look beyond just advertising and promoting your service offering. It is a strategic function responsible for creating buyer demand for those services.
It must be a well-integrated part of your overall business plan. Without a clear marketing strategy and tactics, a company will not be able to grow and achieve long-term success. But with a goal in hand and the right attitude, you can give your small business a competitive edge.
Most entrepreneurs are “doers” and not “planners.” This is a good thing because they are willing to act and make things happen. However, many small business owners get into trouble because they don’t plan their marketing activities correctly.
One of the best things about having a marketing plan is that it can help you stay focused and avoid doing the wrong activities. You have something to measure your progress against when you have a written plan. You can refer to it often and make sure you are on track. This is especially important for small businesses, which don’t have the resources to waste on ineffective marketing.
A good marketing plan should include detailed information about your target market, your objectives, and the strategies you will use to achieve your goals. It’s also a good idea to have a budget and timeline, so you can track your progress and adjust as needed.
The good news is that you don’t have to write a novel to have a marketing plan that creates sales. In fact, you can create a basic plan for your small business in a few hours. To begin, don’t worry about writing style or making your plan fancy. Just go to your keyboard and get started.
PILLAR 1- Understand Your Market and Your Competition
Your market is the group of people who are most likely interested in buying what you’re selling. At the same time, your competition is the group of businesses that offer a similar service to the same people.
To understand your market, you must know who they are, where they are, and what drives their purchasing decisions. You can learn this by reading third-party market research, purchasing industry surveys, competitors’ websites, and listening to industry interviews. Once you have this information, you can tailor your services and messages to meet your customers’ needs and wants.
To understand your competition, you need to know what they’re offering, how they’re marketing their products, who they serve, and what prices they’re charging. You can gather this information by doing online research, attending trade shows, industry association reports and articles, and talking to industry experts. Once you have this information, you can create a marketing strategy that sets you apart from your competitors.
When building a profitable business, it’s essential to understand your market and your competition. By understanding your target market and what makes them tick, you can create products and services that they will want to buy. And by understanding your competition and how they’re competing for customers, you can set yourself apart and come out on top.
PILLAR 2- Know Your Target Customer
If you want to create a marketing plan that gets results, it’s essential to understand the people you are asking to purchase from you. This means identifying the primary buyer and influencers in the purchasing process and understanding what kind of buying behaviors your target customer has. Where do they get their information from? What are their primary motivations for buying?
By taking a little time to understand your target customers, you’ll be better positioned to create a marketing plan that resonates with them and meets their needs. So, ask yourself questions like “What do they want?”, “What motivates them to buy?” and “What are their typical buying habits?” This information will help you create a tailored plan for your customers, likely resulting in good conversations and more conversions.
Another critical thing to keep in mind when creating your marketing plan is to stay up to date on the latest trends. Things are constantly changing in marketing, so it’s important to continually adapt your strategy to stay ahead of the competition. For example, if you’re not already using social media as part of your marketing mix, now is the time to start! Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn offer excellent opportunities to connect with your target customers and build relationships.
So, take the time to learn about your target audience, and use that knowledge to create a marketing plan that really speaks their language. You’ll be able to connect deeper with them, and they’ll be more likely to respond to your marketing efforts.
PILLAR 3- Create Your Niche
When most people think about marketing, they think about reaching the largest possible audience with their message. However, this isn’t always the most successful strategy. Those markets can be very crowded with many good competitors already in them.
Niche marketing is defined as channeling your marketing messages towards one well-defined segment of the whole population. One important thing to understand is that ‘niche’ does not exist but is created by intelligent marketing techniques and identifying specific preferences that the customer desires.
Niche marketing is your best bet if you’re looking to be recognizably different. This means narrowing focus on who you serve and dominating a smaller group instead of trying to attract “everybody.” This can be done by choosing a niche that interests you and is easy to contact. Remember, the narrower your niche, the easier it will be to dominate it. So, think carefully about what you want to specialize in!
Here’s just a straightforward example to consider. You are interested in reaching commercial businesses (B2B). This is a big universe with many industries. First, pick companies that you qualify to service. Next, let’s s use industry as an area of specialization. There are industrial, medical, technological, retail, offices, etc. Then, let’s drill down to one specific industry like medical buildings.
Working in medical buildings often requires different skills and processes than an office building. Learn what skills are necessary and position yourself as the most qualified in that area because you focus on it. Now build your marketing program around your expertise to eliminate more of the competition who doesn’t qualify.
You can create a niche using any skill, process, industry, or difference that you can clearly communicate to your customer that is important to them that other companies may not offer or be doing. It takes a little thought, but the payoff can be significant.
PILLAR 4- Create A Unique Market Message
When it comes to writing your marketing message, there are five essential steps you need to take to create a message that is interesting to read and unique to you. This process will help ensure that your message is clear, engaging, and persuasive.
- Know your audience: You must know who you’re targeting with your message. What are their needs, wants, and desires? What are they looking for in a product or service? Understanding your target audience will help you craft a message that speaks to them directly.
- Identify the benefits: Once you know your audience, you need to identify the specific benefits of your service. What are the particular features and advantages that make it appealing? Why should someone choose your company over the competition? Highlighting the benefits and your service solutions is essential to creating a compelling marketing message.
- Create a strong headline: Your headline is often the first thing people will see, so it’s critical to make sure it’s eye-catching and catches their attention. The headline should summarize the main benefit of your product or service and compel the reader to learn more.
- Use persuasive visuals: A good image can help illustrate your message and capture people’s attention. Make sure you use high-quality visuals that are relevant to your topic.
- Be concise and clear: It’s valuable to be as brief as possible when writing a marketing message. People are more likely to read it. Let your reader know what’s in it for them (WIIFM). Talk about them and what they will get. Don’t talk about what you do because they don’t care. They only care about what they get from what you do!
PILLAR 5- Determine Your Communication Channels
Many marketing channels are available to businesses today, and not all are equally effective. So how do you determine which channels are proper for you?
The first step is to understand your target audience. Who are they, and what do they want or need? Once you know that, you can start to figure out which channels would be most effective for reaching them.
You might want to focus on marketing channels like email marketing, paid search ads, direct mail, LinkedIn, YouTube, or specialized association social media groups for the business-to-business audience.
Once you’ve identified the proper marketing channels, tailor your message to those channels. Your marketing message should be relevant to the channel you’re using. It should always speak to the needs of your target audience and the solutions you provide.
By understanding your target audience and tailoring your marketing message to the best channels, you can maximize your chances of success in reaching the people interested in talking to you. So don’t be afraid to test and try different marketing channels – you never know which one will work best for you.
Don’t forget to develop your budget. Some channels require a more significant investment than others. Suppose you don’t have a lot of money to spend on marketing. In that case, you’ll need to focus on cheaper channels like email marketing or online advertising.
So how do you choose the best marketing channels? It all comes down to understanding your target market, budget, and messaging. Once you know what channels will work best for you, you can plan your marketing strategy.
PILLAR 6- Establish a Marketing Budget
One of the most overlooked steps in marketing is creating a budget- and sticking to it. If you don’t make a budget for marketing, you’ll never have any money set aside to do it. And so you won’t!
When you make a marketing budget, you’re making a conscious decision to invest in your business- and that can make all the difference when it comes to attracting new customers. So, make sure you allocate enough funds for marketing and be strategic in using them.
You need to be realistic about what you can afford to achieve. And one of the best ways to ensure that your marketing is effective is to create a sensible amount to spend. This means setting aside funds for marketing activities and making sure that those funds are allocated to produce results.
When creating your marketing budget, consider the different marketing channels available and how much investment each will require. Some marketing channels, like television advertising, need more money than others, so weigh the costs and benefits of each before deciding. A budget allows you to get the biggest bang for the buck. As well as money earmarked for spending on marketing.
PILLAR 7- Set Marketing And Sales Goals
Marketing and sales goals are imperative for service businesses to become successful. They will vary based on the business’s size and sophistication. Here are five key areas to focus on that are particularly effective for small businesses.
- Increasing market share: The most common goal for businesses of all sizes. Growing market share means having more revenue at the end of the year than at the start. Set your annual growth goal, decide what steps to take to get there, and monitor monthly.
- Generating more leads: A steady stream of qualified leads delivers more new customers. Set a lead generation goal for each month. Many companies fail to have a clear, manageable metric for this area. A CRM (preferably with an email service provider like KEAP) is one of the most potent tools to reach more people and track engagement when appropriately used. Look at what channels you are not using to contact your prospects and start testing them. The more places your message is seen by your ideal prospect, the more inquiries you will have.
- Increasing conversion rates: Adding more leads will not automatically increase your sales. You must convert them into paying customers; this is your conversion rate metric. This is also called your closing rate. If you close one out of three prospects, your close (conversion) rate is 33%. You must know this because all the leads in the world won’t help if you can’t close enough of them.
- Sell More Services: Another critical metric to track is the purchase value of each customer. This measures how much each customer spends on your service annually. The upsells and cross-sells you motivate your customers to purchase over the regular contract are two key areas to measure. Set a percentage goal to revenue that you want to achieve, and monitor it monthly.
- Improving customer satisfaction: It’s not enough to generate leads and convert them into customers; you also need to make sure that those customers are happy with your service and will stay with you long into the future. One way to ensure customer satisfaction is by consistently delivering service they feel they can’t be replaced. You can also measure customer satisfaction through surveys and personal visits. Measure how many customers you start with each quarter and how many you still have at the end of the quarter. This is called your retention number on the positive side. Or your churn number on the negative side.
Suppose you’d like to see how your marketing program measures up against the 7 foundational pillars. In that case, you can click here to check out our Profit Acceleration Software.