Very few small business owners use it…those that do, can’t live without it
Let me get right to the point. The single most powerful small business, marketing tool on the planet is a marketing plan. Now, before you roll your eyes and run for the hills, let me clear a few things up.
When I talk about a marketing plan, I am not referring to those academic exercises found in college marketing books, or the templated mumbo jumbo found in business planning software. I will not be asking you to determine your share of the market today. Give me a break; share of the market? Most small business owners just need to figure out to get ten more customers.
A marketing plan is a simple (in many cases - one page) document that specifically answers who you are, what you do, who needs it, how you plan to grab them by the throat, when you plan to do it and how you plan to pay for it…in a way that everyone in your organization, network, and client base can clearly understand.
Now, that was a mouthful so let me back up a moment. Small business owners are doers, not planners. While doing is better than, say, mildewing, without direction, it leads to “marketing idea of the week” syndrome and stunts any chance a small business has for real growth.
Take one day, follow these 7 simple steps to creating the most powerful small business marketing tool on the planet, and your life will become a much simpler affair. Flowers will grow where weeds had previously resided, your children will say thank you at the top of their lungs, and your favorite baseball team will finally make that run for the pennant.
Well, maybe none of that will happen but you won’t be as irritated when it doesn’t.
Look at whom you are currently doing most of your business with. Figure out why they do business with you and what it is about them that is unique. Write one paragraph that describes what they look like and what they want out of life. Take a good hard look at the rest of your clients and customers and decide if they fit that description of your best client. Start saying no when the phone rings and it’s not your target market calling.
Figure out what it is that you do best, figure out what your target market longs for and tell the world that you do that like no one else ever thought of. Maybe it’s serving a niche, maybe it’s a form of service, maybe it’s a way you package your products. Here’s a hint: you probably don’t know what it is. Call up 3 or 4 of your clients and ask them why they buy from you.
Create several very compelling benefits of doing business with your firm and find ways to work them into everything you say and do. Just remember it’s not a benefit unless your clients think it is. Your clients don’t buy what you sell…they buy what they get from what you sell.
Recreate all of your marketing materials, including your website, so that they speak only of your core messages and your target market.
Make sure that all of your advertising, including yellow pages, is geared to creating prospects and not customers. You must find ways to educate before you sell. Your target market needs to learn how you provide value in a way the will make them want to pay a premium for your services or products. You simply can’t do this in a 3 x 4 ad. Your ad needs to get them ask for more information…then you can proceed to selling.
You must create a referral, marketing engine that systematically turns clients and referral networks into 24 hour marketing powerhouse. The first step in the system is to make providing referrals a condition of doing business with your firm.
After you complete steps 1-6, determine what you need to do to put them into action and then schedule them on a calendar. Whatever it is that you need to pick a month and pledge to get it done that month. The mistake most small business owners make is to get overwhelmed when they realize how much they really need to.
If you can begin to schedule one or two activities each month, you will look up at the end of six months and find that you have a fully developed referral system, new website, and a lead generation system. Slow and steady wins the race tortoise.
John Jantsch is a veteran marketing coach, award winning blogger and author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide published by Thomas Nelson.
He is the creator of the Duct Tape Marketing small business marketing system. You can find more information by visiting http://www.ducttapemarketing.com.