A solid Marketing System drives your business – if you are not marketing your business it will die. Many business owners will argue this – but actually these guys are doing the marketing without realising it!
Marketing is any activity that assists in getting someone that has a need to know, like and trust your company and then to buy your products or services.
Often people think that the fluffier end of marketing such as advertising and design is ‘Marketing’ but the reality is that marketing needs to be deployed to a set of pre-agreed business objectives and to a plan that involves a calendar. In other words your marketing needs to be systematized and then measured.
I though it would be helpful to offer you seven core steps to think about in setting up your marketing system. These make up a simple, affordable and effective approach to systematic marketing.
Before you decide on how to spend you marketing budget, be it a new website design, direct mail or the latest buzzword – social media, you must generate a marketing strategy. This will drive the actual tactics you will use.
The concept of a marketing strategy may seem, especially for small businesses, an unnecessary luxury, but even if it simply defines your ideal client and his needs, together with detailing some key areas where your offering is different from the competition, the write it down on one sheet of A4 – its now your marketing strategy! Then communicate it to everyone.
This actually opens up a can of worms and the challenge now comes when business owners realise that they can’t be all things to all people. Drill down into the niches where you excel.
These days it’s not enough to have a website designed and forget about it. You need to participate on line to build trust and create awareness for your brand and products. It would be a very unusual business these days if your marketing plan did not have the website at it hub.
The majority of purchase decisions made today involve a degree of online research. To be successful today and to keep prospects filling the funnel, business must be found online easily, engaging, and readily communicated with. This requires a major focus on on-page and offpage SEO and social media participation.
Of course, this also means integrating your online presence and activity into every off-line or traditional business function.
Maybe you’re familiar with the marketing funnel concept – you pour leads into the top of the funnel, they change into prospects, and finally paying customers drop through the small end! Your marketing tactics should all work together and to the same overall product and brand message. Your marketing tactics should focus equally on lead generation, building trust, conversion, and retention.
Marketers today must be oriented to producing content as much as advertising or traditional PR. Good marketers these days are also authors. Prospects expect to search the web and find large amounts of useful information on any subject or challenge – if you can dominate this information with your own advice and product information on your website or blog, then you will build more trust than your competitors.
Consistent production of content that builds awareness and trust, are a major element in the marketing mix these days. This could involve posting client success stories, testimonials on the web site, together with on-line content that educates, such as e-articles, blog posts.
Much of your marketing is lead generation but can only be thought of a successful when that lead is converted to a paying customer. You need to be aware of the cost of taking a lead to conversion.
Now that you have a number of lead generation tactics in place, you can increase both the number of inbound leads and conversion rates by integrating your branding activity with it. When a prospect comes into contact with your branding messages through advertising, reads about your new product in a trade journal published by creating a great PR release, they’ve received a lot of trust-building information and they are more receptive to your closing and conversion tactics.
The same systematic approach that created a lead needs be in place when a prospect wants to learn more. By having a well thought out path that every new lead progresses, to nurture and educate them, can dramatically and positively influence that ever-important conversion rate.
A large portion of your leads should originate as referrals, this are leads generated by either satisfied customers or people who know you. But a referral is already pre-qualified by the trust that the referrer confers to the new lead. Because the referrer knows you, this lead is already ahead of the game and conversion should be both quicker, cheaper but also easier. Referred prospects are for this reason, priceless.
Build a system for generating referrals by networking and simply asking your existing customers.
The scarcest resource in any business is time. There is always more to do than there is time available to do it. Generating forward momentum in your Marketing requires relentless and planned activity over the long term. This can be most easily facilitated by generating your marketing calendar. The annual marketing calendar is a really helpful planning device for your marketing activity, but it must be implemented and monitored strictly.
Create a annual timeline on an excel spreadsheet, detailing each project and the expected outcome, weekly action points, together with daily marketing activities. Print this out and put it on the wall in front of your desk. Then execute it daily or even better automate it into your outlook – Google calendar is good as well.
Author Matthew Simmons
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