The Marketing Mistake You Make Before You Even GET STARTED
Level with me here:
Have you ever skimmed past a title or headline while flipping through the paper, and then realized halfway through the article that you have no idea what you're reading?
It's happened to me more than once.
Stay with me here:
This is directly related to the biggest marketing mistake small business owners make with their marketing.
Let me explain...
I've worked directly with SMBs for far longer than the 17 years PostcardMania has been in business, and I know you all are busy.
And if you skip this ONE CRUCIAL STEP, you risk wasting big money on marketing:
You HAVE to create a marketing strategy.
This is one of those big rules that many people nod their heads at and skip right past, like titles or headlines (I told you it would make sense!), because we just assume we know what they mean.
Or that we're doing it right.
But let's slow down for a minute and really think about this.
The term "marketing strategy" might sound broad or vague, so let's take the mystery out of it. Then you can understand, devise, and implement your own marketing strategy — one that fits into your business plan.
Strategy comes from a Greek word stratagein, meaning to be a general. Think of a strategy as an overall plan of action needed to win a war.
Smaller, detailed actions are called tactics. You can have tactical plans, which help you achieve your overall marketing strategy.
That's simple enough, isn't it?
A marketing strategy is:
An overall plan of marketing actions you intend to take in order to accomplish a specific goal for your company.
Start with a clear and finite goal that can be boiled down into a single sentence:
- Earn $3 million in sales this year.
- Hire two new employees in each department by December 1.
- Double the size of the your revenue in two years.
Etcetera. Be specific. Make it realistic, but challenging.
After you determine your goal, work out a plan of the major marketing steps needed to accomplish that goal.
Here are a few goals we've set up for ourselves:
- Publish a newsletter for all existing customers and mail them out quarterly.
- Work out four special offers for the year and promote them to all your customers.
- Set up online shopping and expand your website.
- Design a direct mail campaign promoting your website to all customers and prospects.
- Get mailing lists (of target markets), do a series of 12 postcard mailings, follow up on and close all leads.
You get the idea.
Really do your homework here. What worked in the past? Read up on successful marketing campaigns; talk to colleagues, friends and mentors.
Play devil's advocate with your plan. Ask questions!
I always say marketing strategies are like dating — you don't have to be married to them. Pick and choose strategies that work best for you, based on analysis of past efforts — both yours and your competitors'.
This is important:
Research your competition.
Get on their mailing and their email lists, receive their promotions and notice what they do well (and not so well). Then pick and choose those that will work best for you.
DON'T reinvent the wheel!
Being innovative is great, but doing what is already successful is practical and yields faster, more predictable results. Don't plagiarize anyone, but find out what offers make you want to call. Those will likely make others want to call, too.
Research ALL your competition and take the best aspects of their marketing to come up with something original.
Also: Your marketing strategy needs to be laid out in the right sequence and you should have some idea of a budget when you write it.
Be realistic. "Run a series of three, 30-second TV ads during the Super Bowl" might sound like a brilliant marketing strategy, but at $2 million for each spot, can you really afford it?
On the other hand, when you build your marketing strategy, you can't cut corners. Save money where you can, but don't sacrifice quality for cost.
Some things — like a great graphic designer or new technology to make mailings easier — are simply going to cost money. The payoff is reaching more people with more quality.
Believe me, it's worth it.
Joy Gendusa is the Founder and CEO of PostcardMania, a fully-integrated marketing firm specializing in direct mail. She literally wrote the book on direct mail (The Ultimate Direct Mail Success Manual!) and offers free samples to all restaurant owners interested in postcard marketing. To claim these freebies, just visit: www.postcardmania.com.