I sat down to explain simple steps business owners could follow to apply world-class marketing principles to their company…and was stumped.
What do you say to a guy who’s already working his butt off and might not even get enough time with his family? How do you give him something else on top of his already-swamped schedule?
Sorry, not going to happen.
Yet at the same time, so often I see small business owners trying to do marketing as an afterthought. They’re overwhelmed and trying to send something out to drum up business. All too often, though, it’s low quality and doesn’t really produce results.
Honestly, it kind of breaks my heart. He’s working so hard. He’s sincere. He’s trying his best. He just doesn’t even know where to start, and doesn’t have time to learn. He’s spinning his wheels and, even though pro-level marketing is being done all around him, he just doesn’t have the time to learn it or implement it.
I wrote this for him.
I want him to have high-quality marketing and I want him to be successful.
So, my challenge was to work out simple steps that would bring his marketing to a totally different realm, but that he could apply—not just high-level pro marketers who had already gone through a years-long learning curve.
What would I tell him to do within his busy schedule in order to take his marketing to an entirely different level?
Here are some secrets from the pros, written to fit the lives and resources of small business owners.
1. Do Your Research
Research always comes first. If you don’t know what will sell or what people are looking for, you’re just going to be lighting money on fire.
If you already sell successfully, as most small businesses do, then you already have a ton of “research” done. You know what people buy, because you can just go back and look at what sold. You know how to sell people on your product, because you’ve done it a million times. This could be considered basic research.
However, if you’re launching a new untried business or product line with a large upfront investment, lack of research can be extremely costly. I mean, who cares if you’re just an entrepreneur taking over the world out of your garage without any financial outlay? No worries. Have at it.
But, if you’re going to shell out half a million dollars on a franchise or new equipment or on a new product line in the “hopes” that it will sell…please, do some research first. There are firms out there who are genius at it.
A little money on research can save a lot of money in the end—and mean the difference between abysmal failure and roaring success.
2. Figure Out Your Branding
Before you can market anything, you need to figure out who you are. The problem with so many companies is that they have no idea how to convey themselves to the public—because they never really thought about who they are.
What sets you apart? Why are you awesome?
Every company has a personality. You need to find yours. This is your “branding” or “positioning.” What are you similar to? What are you not similar to? What is the proper way to instantly convey your company message? If you aren’t sure of this get with someone who understands branding and positioning. Nail it down.
Sometimes if a person doesn’t know their branding, it’s indicative of a deeper problem: their company lacks goals and purposes.
Without goals, you lack a destination. Without a destination, you lack a path to follow. Without a destination or a path, you lack an identity. Branding is only helpful when a company knows what they’re trying to accomplish.
Step one of marketing is to figure out your company’s overall personality or identity. It’s going to be repeated a million times. All your marketing efforts will adhere to it.
The basic maxim “know thyself” is particularly appropriate here.
3. Make a Marketing Plan
Without strategy, marketing is pointless.
Who is your target audience? Where do you go to reach them? What are their interests? How do you communicate to them? How’s all this going to result in real sales?
Without strategy you’re just throwing money away, trying one avenue and then rushing over to another. There are so many different ways to promote. Plans can be made for every possible budget and scenario—you just need one that will work for yours.
Find a highly-expert marketer who can provide you with consulting and put together an embracive marketing strategy that integrates with the overall business plan for your company.
A marketing plan should take into account exactly what direction you’re going as a business. It should be very realistic and make you go, “Yeah! That’s it!” If it doesn’t, work with someone who understands all the different mechanics of marketing well enough to help you achieve this.
4. Put Together a Team
Now that you’ve got a plan, you’ll know the kind of help you’ll need. The size of your team will be dependent on what type of marketing you’ll be doing.
I could write a whole book about this one part. However, the main advice for a small business owner is to find a person they trust who can oversee their marketing for them. This can be an employee but, more often, will be an outside contractor.
As a small business owner, you’re probably not going to have time to do it all. Therefore, I would recommend finding a person who can run your marketing show.
If you’re really into marketing yourself, you can definitely hire your own writer, your own designer and your own programmer, but most people won’t want to do all that. So, that’s why you get a person you trust who can point you in the right direction.
You keep your business running and they control your marketing.
5. Create a Marketing Calendar
You’ve got to have a schedule. This is an overall plan of what promotional pieces and projects need to be actually produced each week and each month.
You’ve got a great overall plan but how will you know how which blogs need to be written, and by which deadlines? What are the launch dates for the websites that need to be created? What should be happening on social media each day? Yada yada yada.
The marketing schedule, or calendar, will bring your marketing plans into the real world. It will actually define what products have to be done by what time, will set priorities and will clarify the scope of work.
6. Get Creating
Now that you know what’s got to be done and have some deadlines to meet, you’ve got to get to work. Start delineating the first projects. State the purpose of each one, what it’s supposed to achieve, what its scope is and what components it will consist of. In other words, issue instructions.
Now, get people working on them.
This is where you actually create the websites, write the blogs and make the videos. This is where you get on social media and get active. This is where you produce, produce, produce. It takes work and drive to get the stuff done in time and, if you’re lucky and have pros on your team, to a high quality standard.
You’ve got to actually get the stuff done, get it executed and get it sent out.
Let’s get some leads in!
7. Monitor Results
All marketing is about testing. It’s about results. It either worked or it didn’t. No matter how brilliant it seemed, if it didn’t result in sales, then it needs to be changed.
Marketing isn’t a one-shot deal. It’s a constant evolution. Real marketing isn’t some secret weapon or magic bullet. It’s hard work, careful analysis and the application of time-tested principles over and over until you get the results you’re looking for in the real world.
8. Learn The Basics of Marketing
No matter what you do for a living, you are going to have to market something sometime. You can’t just leave it all to other people. The above steps will tell you what you need to do in order to get rolling. However, in order to really be a success, like anything else, you’ll at least have to know the basics in order to properly oversee it.
Ensure that you and your employees get gradually trained in marketing. There is a lot to know, but it isn’t hard to learn the basics.
If you want to know where to start, email me and I’ll give you some good books and blogs to check out.
I’m always interested in your feedback. I tried to make the above intensely useful for small business owners. If it left you with any questions or you want help with a specific area, write and let me know. Maybe I’ll make it the subject of a future blog post.
Photo Credit: Eiffel Tower by Yann Caradec