As a small business owner, you have responsibility for all aspects of your business. I'm sure you're thinking "yeah, tell me something I don't know." Well, you got into the business because you're an expert in your field.
To make a business viable there are many more areas of expertise needed, like financing, regulatory, accounting, legal, HR, and marketing.
Often, I find many business owners connect with experts in all those areas but choose to keep marketing on their shoulders despite it not being their area of expertise. Many times the thought process is, "I can buy ads to reach my prospects. I'll get the vendor to make the ads, Done!"
Over time the business has accrued a pile of different advertising activities that are called their Marketing Plan. In reality, it's just an ad hoc hodgepodge of mismatched advertising that may help build awareness but doesn't fit together, run smoothly, or provide a return on investment.
You wouldn't go to a junkyard and pull pieces off of many different types of engines to build a race car engine, would you? Why would you do the same for marketing your business?
I've found many business owners suffering from Shiny Object Syndrome. A new advertising method comes along and their eyes light up. Internally they say "I have to have it" and they add it to their marketing plan.
Eventually, the owner becomes frustrated with spending all this money and not seeing the expected results. Common comments I hear are "I'm overspending", "nothing's working", "I'm not getting the bang for my buck", "there has to be an easier, simpler way!"
The good news is that a simpler way does exist. Instead of just randomly adding different marketing tactics together, we follow a four-step process:
Get your messaging right
Get your lead generation system right
Wrap it all in a structured annual marketing plan
Have an accountability system to ensure everything is implemented
Getting your messaging right is essentially the research and development stage. Through a number of exercises you define how you and your business are unique and the thought process your prospects go through to eventually become your customer. From there you determine exactly what you want to say to the prospect to move them through each mental obstacle so they make a purchase. Your message is the critical factor that determines your overall marketing success. Once you've mastered the message, all the rest of the marketing tactics you implement will perform much better.
Getting your lead generation right is creating the sales funnel that sends the right message to the prospect for each stage in their journey to becoming your customer. A simplified buyer's journey begins with awareness of your company. This leads to information gathering, followed by a trial, and eventually, a purchase. There most likely will be more stages in your buyer's journey. These stages are separated by a mental obstacle keeping the prospect from moving forward. Determining all of those obstacles defines your buyer's journey. Once you have that defined you can build the sales funnel, both online and in the real world. Doing this makes it easier, and faster for the prospect to become a customer resulting in a shorter sales cycle and a better return on your investment.
Now, having accomplished these two steps, this is where most "digital marketers" stop. They've done a great deal of work and helped you drive sales. But this isn't where your marketing responsibilities stop as a business owner. That's why steps three and four exist. To continue with the race car metaphor, the lead gen. system is the race car engine and the right messaging is the fuel. You still need the body which is the fully developed annual marketing plan, and the wheels which are the accountability system to ensure implementation occurs.
Wrapping it all in a structured annual marketing plan is where all the other marketing elements get taken into consideration and planned for. This other stuff is things like your calendar of promotional events you do during the year, local community events you participate in as a good community business, your sales patterns of busy and slow periods, and even competitive actions you need to be prepared for. Take all of these elements and create a formal calendar and action plan for the year. It sounds daunting and is a lot of preparatory work. But once it's done, your mind is freed up to focus on business and implement the plan.
The final step is there to make sure you benefit from the hard work you've invested in creating your marketing system. Over the years I've helped clients create wonderful promotional campaigns and marketing plans only to have them relegated to a binder, file folder, or packed in a stack full of numerous other papers never to see the light of day again. This bugged the heck out of me. Why, after all that work, would it not be acted upon. Then I realized in many cases, the actions the business owner needed to take were outside their comfort zone. When they didn't feel confident to do them, they didn't get done. That's where an accountability partner helps out.
Having an accountability system to ensure everything is implemented starts with providing the plan in a format that fits the client's management style and draws a line between what the owner will commit to doing and outsources all actions beyond that line. Then, periodic check-ins are performed to keep the plan on pace as well as make adjustments as needed. Once I began adding this step, I saw a dramatic increase in implementation.
Upon completing this four-step process you will experience less stress, have to invest less time in managing your marketing and may even see a reduction in marketing costs now that your marketing is focused on the right messages at the right time, and using the right media to convert prospects into customers.
Your other option is to continue tossing Jell-O against the wall to see what sticks, not knowing what works, being frustrated with the results and still thinking there has to be a better way.
Stop frustrating yourself. The most important things you can do to improve your marketing are to clarify your message, build a lead generation system to smoothly move prospects into customers, wrap all the other marketing necessities into a plan and have someone be your pacesetter to ensure implementation occurs.
This is what I and my team at Shockwave Marketing Systems do.
If you're not positively shocked by your current marketing results, you need to reach out to us at Shockwave for a complimentary ten-minute discussion. We’ll be able to determine if your challenges fall within our wheelhouse. If not, we’ll attempt to direct you to another professional who can help you with your challenge. But, if we can be of benefit, we'll put our full effort into driving your sales, increasing your traffic, and building your brand.