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Your Marketing Plan is Nothing Without This

How many plans have you been told you need from a banker, or a consultant, or an advisor?  A business plan?  Marketing Plan?  Finance plan?  Have you already done these plans?  Where are they now?  The majority of small business owners will probably say they are sitting in a binder, on a shelf in their office.  

Although I do not discount the importance of knowing the information that goes into each of the plans, they do you no good if they are ignored.  It’s typically not intentional, but the business of the day tends to take priority over a well laid out marketing plan.

That’s why I recommend using a daily marketing plan.  Your daily marketing plan isn’t a 50-page report with graphs and spreadsheets, its a simple 2 or 3 page summary that gets updated daily.  DAILY?  You say?  Yes!  I mean daily.  Let me show you how.

Creating a daily marketing plan is no different than creating a goal sheet or to-do list, because that’s essentially what it is.  A simple report that outlines your marketing goals for the day, the week, the month, and the quarter.  As you accomplish these goals, check them off the list and move onto your next task!  There’s no secret, no magic formula, and no mystery as to how you can track your marketing.

Of course, these goals should be based on what you would like to accomplish based on your business and marketing plan, but you don’t need to refer to the big binder daily, just pull it out every quarter, evaluate your progress, and update your daily marketing plan based on the information in your master plan.  It’s one sure way to ensure you are moving forward and meeting your goals.

Your daily marketing plan should be stapled together and left on your desk where you see it, review it, and touch it daily.  Have a random thought you want to explore but you’re too busy?  Mark it down in your daily marketing plan so you can refer back to it later.  The beauty of this plan is it is your plan, written for you as a guide.  Not written in “Banker” talk, not written in “Advertising” garble, but in your own words, by you, and for you.

As I’ve said before many tines, sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones.  I hope this tip helps you to track your marketing in a fast, simple and convenient way, which will result in a bigger bottom line for you and your company!

Lack of Focus – Is Your Online Marketing Wearing Its Underwear As a Hat?

If I was to make an analogy between marketing and dressing up, I would have to say that a lot of marketers get out of their house with their clothing out of order: underwear on their heads, shirts not tucked in on one side and wearing a high heel shoe on one foot (with open toes and undone toenails) and cowboy boots on the other.

Before you throw stones at me, remember that I m a marketer too and I make this analogy only to say one thing: Your biggest enemy as you build your online business (and in your life really) is lack of Focus. When you got started in your marketing plan, you (hopefully) laid out a strategy that used 1 or 2 marketing forms, partly because that was all you knew, but also partly because you were limited on time and needed to narrow down the strategy that most appealed to you, was time or cost effective.

As you experience success with one strategy, ideally you would add a second marketing form and layer it seamlessly on the first form just as you would a dress (or pants) on top of your underwear. Now, the mistake that most marketers make is this: as they acquire new skills and learn new strategies, they throw all these new strategies in their marketing shopping cart and want to apply them all at once with little focus and very limited result. Their daily marketing plan (if they still have one) is no longer the initial, streamlined, clear-cut plan with a well defined focus but a confused, disorganized, jumbled up plan with multiple strategies, numerous tools that do not link to one another to form a consistent, clear web that allows them to be everywhere like the top marketers are.

To continue with my analogy, if you are one of them (it is OK, I was here too at some point); you now have all your clothes on but they are not in the right order and you do not present well, you feel weird (with an underwear on the head who would not), encumbered ( hard to walk in unmatching shoes with heels of different heights) and tired (you are carrying a way too heavy suitcase going to the beach…relax you are self employed, no need for the suitcase and suit and high heels…all you need is your laptop & a phone). So, what can you do now that you have a clear picture of the damage that lack focus can bring in your business and life?

Here are a few tips:
1. Go back to the drawing board, listen to yourself, identify the strategy that you are most comfortable with (& that you can afford in terms of cost and time) and laser focus on learning and using that skill daily.
2. Put forth on a consistent and daily basis lead generating activities using that strategy. Do so passionately, wholeheartedly and block out any distractions.
3. Once you master that strategy (and your results will tell you if you have mastered or not), go back to the drawing board and add another one and layer these two strategies up in a coherent and coordinated manner.
4. Do not clog up your schedule to the point that you neglect your other money making activities (talking to your prospects, coaching your team…).
5. Make time in your schedule to recreate (exercise, time with family) and to work on your mindset.

Remember, every strategy works if you master it, work it and teach it. Do not be the jack of all trades and the master of none. And also if a constant drip of water can carve through solid rock; how much more will a consistent, focused, wholehearted daily marketing strategy bring in hoards of targeted leads.

How to Create an Effective Small Business Marketing Plan

A well-thought out marketing plan is essential to the long-term viability of any business. However, many entrepreneurs and small business management teams are left in the dark as they seek to increase their promotional efforts.

It’s unnecessary for business owners to feel completely lost, however. The best marketing strategies are straightforward and logically implemented. Following are some tips for building and executing a solid marketing campaign.

Identifying specific marketing goals

Every business has particular marketing needs that can be met with careful study of and attention to market realities. In order to be competitive in the information age, your goals should include the following:

· Developing your online presence through a company website and social media

· Reaching out to target markets by identifying their online habits and focusing marketing efforts accordingly

· Understanding advertising trends and consumer behavior in your specific market

· Achieving brand recognition for your company and its services

Think about what your needs are and present them to your colleagues. Identifying such needs is the first step in creating a plan that will actually meet them.

Identifying your marketing and media mix

Closely observe how your ideal customers are currently meeting their wants and needs. Do they go to brick-and-mortar stores to buy the products you sell? Do they turn to the internet and search for detailed reviews before they make purchases? Use that information to determine the best media to focus on. A strong mix might include the following:

· An email newsletter through which you build relationships with prospects and provide special offers

· A social media presence (e.g. through Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other specialty services) through which you offer exclusive benefits to customers

· A blog that garners the interest of prospects and pre-sells them on your service

· The writing and distribution of press releases to increase potential exposure to mainstream media outlets

Develop a list of media that is most relevant to your prospects and can be targeted without overwhelming your resources.

Creating a budget

Think about the marketing campaigns of your competitors and what will it take to either outshine them or hit segments of the market that they’re missing. If they’re investing in traditional marketing avenues such as radio or print advertising, you may also choose to go that route. Or, if your budget is limited, you may choose to focus a majority of your efforts on cost-effective internet marketing and social media outreach.

In order to visualize the budget, a spreadsheet detailing activities (such as website hosting and promotional events) and the amount of money spent monthly on each will be very helpful. Use your intuition and best judgment, weighing immediate needs against long-term ideals, to create a budget that best serves your enterprise.

Implementation of the marketing strategy

Allot a specific amount of time towards daily marketing activities and make sure that they are implemented in a step-by-step manner. The work should be accounted for daily and efforts should be consistent across the days, weeks and months following the launch of the campaign. The ideal implementation strategy will carve out sufficient time for marketing without significantly cutting into day-to-day operations, sales and customer service.

Measurement of marketing success

After implementation, it’s important to periodically measure the success of your promotions. Once you know how well the strategy is panning out, you’ll know how to modify your current campaign and where to focus future efforts. If your current marketing efforts target the internet and social networks, for example, measurement may include the following:

· Looking at the number of people who have signed up for email newsletters

· Evaluating metrics concerning Facebook, Twitter and Google+ followers (total number of followers, number of “shares” and “likes” on Facebook and “tweets” on Twitter, number of followers who have made purchases or responded to promotions, etc.)

· Tracking website visitor behavior using free or low-cost analytics tools

· Split-testing aspects of your website such as aesthetics, layout and copywriting

· Calculating overall increase in sales as a result of the campaign

It’s also important to figure out your return of investment (ROI). This can be calculated as:

(Gross Profit – Marketing Costs) / Marketing Costs

Bear in mind that gross profit is your revenue minus the cost of production or services, not just the revenue itself. Keeping this in mind will help you produce an accurate assessment of how successful your marketing has been.

Creating and implementing a marketing plan requires research and trial-and-error, but it remains a straightforward process. Take the time now to develop a marketing plan that suits your business, and you will give yourself the best chance of reaching and exceeding expectations.