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Six small business marketing essentials you need: logo, website, brochure, customer profile, a plan,

Six small business marketing essentials you need: logo, website, brochure, customer profile, a plan,

Marketing your business is simple. Nine times out of ten the problem isn’t bad marketing strategy - it’s the complete lack of it. Someone didn’t plan for it and so it was neglected and/or forgotten - that’s the problem. No plan. No marketing.

Six small business marketing essentials you need 

  1. A logo and stationery.
  2. A website.
  3. A brochure or sell sheet (something you give to someone before or after a sale).
  4. An customer profile (your target audience).
  5. A plan (written on a calendar)
  6. And a budget

The three basics (yeah they’re rudimentary…)

One. Your logo and stationery are your company’s first impression. They set the tone for expectations and establish a customer’s initial perception. Even if you believe your company won’t need business cards or stationery - have them at the ready - and insure they look good. Exchanging business cards is standard practice and you’ll eventually need to send a letter. And as the saying goes, you only get one first impression.

Two. A company website is crucial today. Since it can be accessed 24/7/365 from around the world - it’s your pre-sale spin,  maybe your method of sale (e-commerce), and post sale support. It functions as your hub and all your marketing efforts will reference it. And yes, it can integrate all the latest technologies and trends such as social marketing - because it’s infinitely adaptable (or should be). Don’t forgo a website due to cost or the ill conceived notion your business won’t benefit. There are lots of inexpensive solutions available, from templates, to build-it-yourself online solutions. Every business can benefit, even with the simplest of websites - if only to provide your phone number and address. It’s simply inexcusable to not have a website today.

Three. A brochure or sell sheet (why considered passe by some) these items are still relied on by many - even if it’s a PDF downloaded from your website. A brochure or sell sheet reinforces your message before a sale or long after you’ve left them with customers. And more importantly, they can be shared, and continue to spread the word about you without your interaction.

A customer profile

Figuring out who your customer is, where they are, and how best to reach them is critical too. It keeps you focused and helps you avoid bad decisions. For instance, if your flower shop is approached to sponsor a skateboard and punk rock festival, you’ll most likely recognize the attendees won’t fit your profile and so you’ll pass. Instead, you’ll concentrate on communicating with your customers in the most effective manner. Maybe that’s direct mail, maybe it’s billboards outside the mall. Once you build a customer profile, you can start to figure out how to contact that type of person. In marketing jargon it’s called targeting your demographic - but we find it easier to craft a customer profile and give “it” a persona. Maybe it’s just us, but we find it easier to think about selling to “Sally, the married mom, with two young kids - then to target 25-44 year-old, married, white females, with children.

The plan is key

Small business owners are busy. Time is short. Attention is focused on the immediate needs. Then the economy slows, sales soften, and suddenly marketing is catapulted into the limelight - or more accurately, the lack of it. It was always the next thing on your list - until it’s the only thing on your list - but then it’s too late.

Planning forces you to do it and gnaws at you when you don’t.

When a client engages us to help with or handle their marketing - the first two things we do, allow us to do all the rest (more easily). First we build a “persona” of their customer (in marketing jargon, we identify the target audience) and figure out how we can reach them. Second, we pull out a calendar and create a 12 month plan. By determining who our customer is, how we can best reach them, and scheduling activities to reach them - we’re creating a simple marketing plan and schedule. And forcing us to commit to do it or suffer the shame of letting it slip - because on our calendar, as part of the plan, we schedule meetings every two weeks to review what we’ve done (or not).

What else do we write on the calendar? Well, we write down any special relevant holidays that influence our business. For instance, if we’re working with a florist, we’ll circle February 14 and a few other key dates. But for a toy manufacturer we’ll focus on November and December. And if you’re a computer services firm - well, we’ll circle key trade shows and end-of-year budget time. By looking at the whole year during our planning time - we can identify key periods and create a plan of activities. So we’ll be proactive, not reactive.

Then we’ll look at our customer persona and our notes on how best to connect with them. And we’ll write down on our calendar what we’ll be doing to reach the customer. For the florist, maybe it’s a series of email blasts two weeks before Valentine’s day, and a postcard sent a few week before too, synchronized with an update to our website with special Valentine’s Day offers. Maybe our flower shop is in a mall, so perhaps we’ll lease in-mall signage too. Again, it all depends on how we’ve determined we can best reach our customer.

Now it’s time to budget.

Our crucial plan is in place. We know “how we want” to reach our customer and when (plus we’ve backed-out design and production time to allow for creative and printing) now we have to figure out how much we can spend.  OK, usually we’re doing this in conjunction with the plan since it’s silly to write on our calendar we’re going to create a Super Bowl commercial for our little flower shop - we won’t have the budget. But when we’re thinking of how to best reach our customers - we often skip worrying about the budget - so we’re not constrained in our ideas. We can always remove or add things now, at budgeting. And who knows, maybe a crazy idea will seem brilliant and you can shift money around to pay for it. And remember, every two weeks, we’ll be reviewing our plan to adjust what we’re doing  - we’re not carving things into stone. But we are committing ourselves to accomplish specific things on specific dates.

Consistent execution is now a way of life

See basic marketing is simple, but it takes a plan to hold it together. To schedule activities or to shame you when you miss deadlines. But it should encourage you to stick with it. And to keep your marketing going no matter how good or how bad business is for you - and if you market continually it generally won’t be bad any way.

The problem usually isn’t bad marketing, it’s no marketing

As we said at the start, nine times out of ten, when we’re engaged by a new client - the problem isn’t their marketing is wrong - it’s usually it just doesn’t exist. Well either that or it’s just plain ugly. But that’s different story. But if you create the basics, build your customer profile, write down a plan, and create a budget - marketing starts to handle itself. You have a system and by following that system you keep ahead of the game…and probably ahead of your competition too. Thomas Edison said, “genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”.  Well marketing is the same. If you have the inspiration the rest comes down to executing. And executing is made simple when you have a plan to execute.

It’s February 4, 2011, there’s plenty of time to craft your plan for 2011. Grab a calendar off the wall or open one on your computer and start to pick the holidays or events that are relevant to your business. Then add the marketing materials you want to have ready for those dates and get to work. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Feb 04, 2011
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