Let’s get into a quick bit about creating your company’s marketing strategy and where to use your budget.
When you first start to discuss where you want to go with your marketing, forget talking about SEO, Social Media, print and all the other mediums out there. That will come in time, but after the higher level planning. And forget about all the buzzwords and “newest and greatest” things you hear that “everyone” is doing. We need to know what works for us so our budgets are spent wisely.
You could view your marketing strategy as sort of a large river (your overall goal) that gets its power and speed from the tributaries and runoff (your individual campaigns). Tributaries and various runoffs can contribute a great deal of flow to your river as would see in any storm or snowmelt. Now, imagine a bunch of tributaries that all started near your river, possibly even from a similar source, but meandered off into other directions at some point, never really contributing to the overall flow of the river. That is what commonly happens to many people’s marketing programs. They get dispersed & distracted resulting in wasted marketing budgets and no results. You need to get a clear picture of what you’re selling and then making sure every aspect of your campaign is going to contribute to its future strength and success.
Here are a few quick pointers for you to think with in creating your marketing program:
1. Establish what you want to sell, whether you deliver a product or service. This sounds easy enough; however, many companies offer many different things, each thing needing different marketing programs and some have a tendency to spread themselves too thin too quickly. I always start with what I or my company does best or possibly what is making the most income and start there. Don’t market “everything”…because you usually won’t win at this. I call that marketing diarrhea – un-patterned, confused & aimless. Pick one, make it work, stabilize it and move onto the next.
2. Discover who your market is. A novice marketer will say “this is for everyone”. Even Facebook’s market isn’t “everyone” even though it may appear that way having a major fraction of earth’s population as part of their social network. In the marketing world we’d call it “public”. Public doesn’t mean everyone. It means a target audience such as the elderly, tweens, teens, single mom’s, divorcés, lawyers, the chronically ill, pregnant women, whoever. Those individual groups are publics.
So let’s play with this a bit: If you own a roofing company, who is your buyer? Not teenagers. Not renters. Homeowners, property managers, commercial management companies even Real Estate Agents (as they have an in with the homeowner) are your potential buyers and referral sources. Watch lawyers, they all advertise to someone specific. You don’t usually see general lawyer marketing campaigns. They go after DUI’s, bankruptcy, divorce, child custody, etc. Those are publics. You could say “the drunk driving public”, “the bankrupt public”, etc. You have to examine this closely with your product or service. From this step, many things will start to become clear including where and how to contact them.
3. Survey/Market Research. Now that you have isolated your public, you need to find out what they need and want. In this step you may find that you may need to tweak your product or service, or, possibly you’re going after the wrong public. Face to face surveys are the best. Internet research can be revealing, but be careful there as you can’t know anything for fact that you’re pulling off of someone’s website. Find out what is important to them, why they would use your product or service? What would they like/dislike about it? How much would they pay? Why would they refer it to a friend? Where would they go to find it? Would they buy it online or in a store? Why would they even need it in the first place? Is it a luxury or a can’t-do-without? Be creative here. Spend no time in your head at this point, get entirely into theirs. Get really curious about everything they would go through in deciding to use you or buy from you. If it doesn’t make sense, ask more questions. At some point, you’ll have your “ah-ha moment” and then you’re getting somewhere. From this step, you will start to flesh out what you need to say to your public.
4. Creative. Now that you know what they want, say it. Tell them you have it. And don’t be confusing, artsy-fartsy or nebulous. Remember the old Calvin Klein Obsession commercials? I’ll let you be the judge on whether those actually got you to buy their stink sprays. Unless you have a lot of dough in the coffers, you need to be smarter than that. If a house wife hates pre-rinsing her dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, you’d better let her know that in your commercial that yours does just that. And if she wants a matching kitchen, you should let her know that you have a whole matching kitchen appliance set. Most of the appliance company’s campaigns are pretty good about that stuff. If someone wants a uniformed plumber, well then you should certainly say to them “we have uniformed technicians!” That says a lot with saying very little. It says you’re established, have the tools for the job, probably insured and much more. Keep it short, direct, simple. Get into their heads in 5 seconds or less is my rule of thumb.
5. Find where to reach them. If you’ve done the steps above, this step becomes really quick. Cataract surgery? Don’t advertise on Myspace. Try the Yellow pages where people in that age group still go for their services. Siding and Gutter service? Will Facebook really work for you? Maybe, but when was the last time you looked for a gutter service on Facebook? I go to Google for that one and so does most everybody under the age of 65 now. So that’s one place where I’d start spending my budget for that one. Private School? Internet and parent mags. People who send their kids to private school look and research online for schools and read mags about this stuff. Natural solutions for Postpartum Depression? Facebook probably rocks for that one. How many new mothers are sitting in front of Facebook while the new baby is sleeping? A lot. Lawnmowing? Drive around and drop off flyers at houses with long lawns, go after them. You see, it gets very easy once you’ve established what you’re selling, who you’re marketing it to, what they want and the rest becomes almost intuitive.
Now, this by no means is a full outline for a marketing program. It’s just some things for you to think with to take the confusion out of what you’re about to spend your money on. Be smart, make it work and expand.
Dan York, Founder