Many business owners get so caught up in their business, that they forget to step back and create a marketing strategy, focusing instead on individual action steps. While action steps are necessary, it's important to have an overall strategy. What's the difference?
* Action steps are just that: the actions you will take. For instance, "take out ad on YellowPages.com" is an action step.
* Marketing strategy is harder. It looks at who your customers are and how to reach them.
It seems like it would be easy enough to figure out who your target market is. For me, it was not. I falsly assumed I should be targeting work-at-home moms, simply because I am one and feel a connection with them. But the more I dug into who my current customers are, I realized the WAHM did not fit my customer profile at all. It's important to assess who your current clients are and determine whether you want more of the same or some other demographic. If, for instance, you have a lot of single-serving customers and you want more repeat business, you might need to shift your marketing to a different target.
Delivering the Message
With so many choices out there in marketing, it can be overwhelming. Should you use traditional newspaper ads? Only online? Is television worth exploring? The first question you should ask yourself is, "How does my target market like to receive their messages?" If your target market is senior citizens, resist the urge to do everything online just because you can appreciate the medium. It will be a waste of time, since this demographic does not use online as much as other demographics.
While the scatter shot is a temptationing technique (using a wide range of media to get your message out), it is usually expensive and not as effective as carefully planned delivery. Spend time analyzing how your ideal customer can be reached. It will be more cost effective and efficient at reaching new customers in the long run.
Save the Date
While no marketing strategy is ever carved in stone, it's still a good idea to lay it out over a timeline. The holidays are important for marketing, and sneak up on us business owners every year. Plan ahead by deciding when you will begin your holiday marketing (not December). This will also help spread the cost of marketing throughout the year.
NOW you're ready for action steps! I know many businesses who simply take every marketing opportunity that comes along as it comes along, rather than planning for the big picture, and then at the end of the year, they do not know where their marketing budget went. Do not let that happen to you.