Marketing Strategy – Getting the Marketing Groove

Wouldn’t it be great to have a year where your marketing efforts were streamlined and got the results you were after? None of us want to struggle with marketing, and yet this is the one topic that continues to be highest in the minds of small business professionals.

Let’s really consider some of the reasons that can sabotage our marketing efforts, and how we can turn that around.

Lack of a marketing mindset

We don’t see ourselves as in the marketing game. The truth is, if you are out there running a business, thinking like a marketer has to become your priority. It’s no use having a great service if nobody knows about it, or you.

Lack of knowledge is your enemy. Start by reading whatever you can. Speak to successful people in your field and ask them what strategies they use. The information you need is out there for you to take.

Lack of investment

For many small business owners, the focus on cost control prohibits them from ever investing enough money into marketing and promotion. These activities are seen as costs rather than as an investment. So this year I encourage you to reframe your attitude towards marketing. Once you know what marketing activity to do, and have confidence that it will bring results, spend the money enthusiastically.

Lack of focus

Perhaps you do spend time and money on marketing, but you aren’t happy with the results. Or your efforts are ad-hoc rather than carefully planned. Whatever it is, 2005 is the year to take charge. If what you are doing isn’t working – stop doing it! Ask a professional for help (not your friends or associates!). Or put yourself in your customers shoes and work out what’s going to attract them to your business. If an ad-hoc approach is the problem, take the time to complete the marketing plan in the ‘How to…’ section and become ruthlessly systematic this year.

Lack of over-riding marketing strategy

Marketing activity and tactics are all well and good but it is like driving a rudderless ship if there is no grander plan. Part of creating a marketing strategy is to clearly understand exactly where you are right now, and where you want to be. Your goal may be to have sales of $1,$5 or $50 million. Or you may want to revolutionise your industry. Or you may want your company to be acquired within 5 years. What matters most is that you have a clear, precise vision of where you are, where you want to be in 1year, and where you want to be in 5 years.

Not surrounding ourselves with the right people

All of the great books on success advocate spending time with people who are already successful at what you want to do. Why? By surrounding yourself with people several steps ahead of you, you can absorb the attitudes and values that made them successful, as well as picking up new strategies and ideas. So If you are hanging out with people who also lack a marketing mindset then it’s time to think about expanding your professional network to include those who are already down the track to success.

Marketing is more of an art than a science. Often times you learn by systematically trying different activities and approaches. The experts don’t always have all the answers . . . and this is exactly why you need to give plenty of personal attention to make sure your marketing is working as hard as it possibly can. If you want to get serious about success in business, then understanding marketing is an ongoing priority.

Here’s a quick list of 10 ideas to get you into the marketing groove:

1. Commit to reading one new marketing book per month

2. Start learning about how to market online

3. Make a list of people whose businesses inspire you, and carefully study their marketing techniques. How many of these are you using?

4. Make a list of successful people in your industry and check out their marketing strategy. Why not offer to take one of them out for coffee to learn more about how they got where they are (what’s the worst that could happen?)

5. Revise your marketing budget. Look at your previous investment in marketing, and ask yourself if this is the amount a truly successful business would be spending

6. Review all of last year’s marketing activities. Work out which ones brought new business in the door, or were successful in some other way (building credibility for example). If you can’t quantify how successful the outcome was, stop spending the money!

7. Implement an ongoing ‘keep in touch’ program with existing customers

8. Ask 10 or more of your most loyal customers for a referral

9. Stop doing those marketing activities that you know don’t work, but you do them anyway

10. Market research – ask 20 of your customers what value you provide to them. Use what they say in your own marketing materials