Define your business and marketing goals
When I talk to small business owners about marketing, they express concern about wasting precious time and failing to get positive results. If you set goals, map out your plan, execute well and measure results, you’ll achieve success.
Far too often, marketers launch into a channel without focus and purpose. At the least, distractions from your path sap momentum and at worst, may lead to contradictions in messaging.
Think universally about the impact and changes you want to cause. How do you want to affect your customers, partners, industry and employees?
Set Goals — Internal
Define success It’s different for everybody. Consider what you want your marketing program to achieve. Your goals may change over time, but the initial process to think through your options not only helps you get the most out of your efforts, but it also may help you identify additional opportunities.
Specify and prioritize Determine everything you want to achieve. Do you want sales? Then you need leads. Do you want donations? Whether your business sells goods and services or supports the greater good as a nonprofit, the influence of social media means you must build a loyal audience of fans who share their good experiences with your organization publicly.
List important benchmarks Make your goals realistic, measurable and tangible. Think about long-term and well as short-term goals. For example, knowing that a long-term goal is to sell the business affects future decisions. Short-term goals set the stage for multiple successes. Establish every possible milestone, both major and minor. Even though these goals will probably change as your business grows, preplanning reduces the pain of time and cost down the road.
Set Goals — External
Customers What actions do you want from your audience? Do you want them to buy a product or service, apply for a service, register at your web site, subscribe to your emailings, refer other prospects to you, review your products and services, or support your mission? Once you think about it, there are several actions you probably want your audience to take. It’s important to list all of them to facilitate choices in marketing methods. Products that cost over $100, for instance, benefit from lead generation and nurturing programs beyond a simple request to buy. If a product isn’t an impulse item, it may take several “touches” or messages to secure the sale.
Partners Consider current and potential partnerships that could benefit you. Trusted partners offer distribution channels of loyal customers, shortening your sales cycle. Think of cross-selling, referrals and other synergistic opportunities. For example, a pastry shop might explore having coffee shops and restaurants carry their goods.
Industry or charitable associations Investigate the prospects that associations may offer you. Your services might be valuable to customers of companies in several industries. Conferences offer networking opportunities to develop important relationships. Public speaking and awards from your peers boost your credibility. Are there charities that are important to the mission or vision of your organization? Such relationships attract new prospects and enhance trustworthiness, integrity or authority.
Once you have a plan in place, you can maintain the successful, results-driven campaign with as little as an hour a day. See increased sales, lead generation and reduced marketing costs. While it will take more time initially to develop a substantial foundation, following your plan will enable you to have a manageable routine and the long-term benefits will be well worth it.
Simplify Your plan will help you follow a step-by-step method to systematically tackle individual parts, helping you to incrementally manage the process. Once you have completed your strategy, you’ll start with the first few components that are likely to provide the most impact for the effort.
Exercise Explore your business needs fully with “Discovery Questions,” over 200 thought-provoking queries to help you probe and define your needs and aspirations. Use them as a group exercise to survey your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and business threats. Responses can shape business plans, executive summaries, statements of mission, vision and values, funding requests, keyword lists for names of companies, divisions, products and search engine optimization.
The exercise is several pages long, so feel free to skip it and move on to Chapter 2 to learn how to calculate how much you can spend on advertising.
Chapter 1 Exercise
Sharpen business focus through discovery
Use “Discovery Questions” to coalesce your priorities and create the most focused plan. Answers to these 200 questions help startups craft mission, vision and value statements, business plans and executive summaries, write tag lines and even carve out cornerstones, by naming an entity, its products, services or web domain. Stakeholders delve through strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT), extracting and shaping concepts that provide perspective of the future.
Both nonprofits and companies benefit from an exercise to explore their essence. It isn’t necessary to answer all the questions. Supporters, investors, partners, employees all have many questions of your organization. Fund-seekers must perform thorough soul-searching to present a concrete case with confidence. For all concerned, the deeper the dive, the more beneficial the process. Skip over those questions that don’t apply or that you can’t answer yet. Nonprofits should swap the word customer with donor.
Well-thought-out plans increase the chances to secure loans, Board Members, partners and clients. The Discovery process reveals and crystallizes the risks and rewards for everyone involved. As a work in progress, each tweak in the plan improves the outlook and smoothes the road ahead.
These questions open discussions about the problems you solve, who you solve them for, what is special about your solution, how you will make money, what you need to hit your goals and what you want to eventually accomplish.
As you go through this process, you’ll develop your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), determine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT), identify staffing needs, detail product and service lines, competition, financial projections and requirements.
While you may not be able to answer some of these questions now, considering these questions early on may improve initial planning. You may find that once deep in the discussion, your team answers early questions differently or expands more thoroughly on answers. Skip questions that don’t apply.
This in-depth process also kickstarts keyword research necessary for search engine optimization of web site pages and hashtag development. Subsequently, this homework is useful for all further sales and marketing materials.
Go to Chapter 2: