"The" Secret to Marketing Your Business Successfully!

May 16, 2012 by  Filed under: Marketing 

There is a secret to marketing your business.

It is commonly known as a business plan, but referring to “a business plan” conjures up negative images. A business plan costs too much. It will sit in a file cabinet or on a shelf and collect dust. Or the most common refrain, “Who needs a business plan?”

As long as I have been in the marketing and business planning community, I have known the secret. Unfortunately, secrets can get tangled up in those webs of operations and the emotions of making advertising decisions on the spur of the moment. Your business and marketing plans go together. They are inseparable because successful marketing depends on the information that you put in your business strategy.

Here’s why: Your message about what you offer and how that message is delivered is only going to be as effective as how well it is received by the consumer.

If your target audience is clueless about what you sell, you bring in several variables affecting the success of your marketing efforts. One is the time it will take to get into the consumer’s consciousness and begin to make a positive impact. Two is the cost involved in reaching those consumers on a consistent, steady basis to build exposure with them. Three is the return on your investment.

Before you spend money on advertising, create a concise compilation of the information requested in these 5 secret steps.

1) Clearly identify why you’re in business. It’s often called a Mission Statement and can be coupled with a Vision Statement. You need to know the reason for your existence. It should be obvious to you and everyone.

2) Know and define your product or service. Call it your unique selling proposition (USP) or whatever else defines what you want your customers to buy from you. If you owned a convenience store, would you sell gas? Or would you sell the right for customers to keep driving their cars? And pick up a gallon of milk or a cup of coffee. What is it you offer?

3) While you need to know who your competitors are, you must also realize that your number one competitor might be yourself. I’ve seen it happen all too often where the business tries to compete with a competitor instead of capitalizing on the unique nature of their business. It’s the experience your customers get from your business that keeps them coming back… unless they’re shopping for deals.

4) Describe your customers. The most important key to the success of your advertising that your business plan offers is to have as clear and distinct an identification of your potential customers as you can possibly define!

5) Research your market and what message delivery vehicles reach your targeted audience most effectively… so they will buy from you! Demographic and psychographic information is critical to making the right decisions about where to put your message. You want results (Return On Investment – ROI) from the money you spend on marketing.

When you look at your business plan from the consumer’s perspective, it becomes a tool to budget your marketing expenses and make customer-oriented, results-focused decisions to grow your business.

When you design your advertising strategies, you now know who you’re trying to reach, where they live (if that is important), and how they will be most receptive to your message. If you want young people to stop by your restaurant for a pizza special after midnight, Facebook and Twitter posts could prove to be most effective. It’s important to trigger the Consumer’s Buying Motivation (CBM) in your advertising message. You must also have a call to action.

In the pizza post example, simply texting: “1/2 off pizza after 10” is less likely to get a response than one than reads: “Stop in b4 mdnite 4 1/2 off za.” Text that to a 60-something and they’ll likely to scratch their heads and wonder what it means and who it came from.

What I’m writing about here is important if you want to grow your business and avoid wasting money on advertising that fails to work. Most advertising will fail. It is simple, but complicated.

Simple in that you must reach your target audience with the right message to trigger a positive response for them to buy from you.

Complicated in that you need market research and the elements of your business strategies to craft the correct message to reach the defined market. You then need to choose the right message delivery vehicle (media) to deliver that message with an impact that gets results and can be done within your budget.

This is also why you may need professional help. There are people you can trust to help you understand your business and go through those questions from an independent, third party perspective you may be unable to see. The old forest through the trees vision problem. Those professionals should also be able to give you sage advice on how to market your business effectively.

The reason to avoid relying on media sales representatives for that advice is that the media they represent is in business to make money… and pays their salaries and commissions. They want as much of your advertising budget as possible and will, with a high degree of certainty, tell you the results cannot be guaranteed. The science of choosing the right message delivery vehicles for your business is as complicated as your business.

Ask any business owner if running their business is easy. One owner I know was invited to speak to an 8th grade class about being an entrepreneur. When he explained that owning the business meant he only worked 1/2 of the day, eyes lit up and he had the student’s attention. They liked the sound of only having to work 1/2 a day. Then the entrepreneur told the students that they could then use the other 12 hours of the day to do whatever they wanted. After a deafening pause until the message got through, the smiles disappeared from the young faces.

It’s less a secret than it is about the knowledge to choose wisely.

Terry is Trail Boss for Brand Irons. Brand Irons exists to assist business owners in branding their work, and then working their brand. Every business is unique and should be a leader, whether it’s in its community, online, or in the global economy. Getting to a clear understanding of that brand identity may require professional assistance, which is available through Brand Irons. We help that business owner remove the emotions of basic business decisions and make them with reason and clarity for the success of the business. Once the foundation is laid, marketing can be more focused on the consumer and generate a return on the investment in advertising, public relations, or other marketing efforts. This is where the emotion comes back into the picture.

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