As an entrepreneur you will have master many skills, including management, communication and decision making skills. One of the most important aspects that all business owners need to understand is marketing. This will be how you sell your business to its customers and therefore will represent how you will create profits for your business. There is a lot to understand about marketing and plenty of ways to make mistakes. All successful entrepreneurs have mastered the art of marketing themselves and their company.
Creating a Marketing Plan.
Companies that are successful in marketing themselves start the process by creating a detailed marketing plan. The size and scope of your business’s marketing plan will be determined by several factors, including the size of your company and how many potential customers you will attempt to reach. It is a good idea to create your marketing plan and then refer back to it on a monthly basis to ensure that you are still on track. A lot of things can change for a business as the year progresses.
Your business’s marketing plan should cover one year of time.
The ideal amount of time to plan ahead for marketing, especially if you run a small business or a start-up business, is one year. There are a lot of things to cover in a year’s time. Your business will gain and lose employees, the market will evolve and your customer base will (hopefully) grow. This represents plenty of time and factors to consider. Once your business develops and grows you can switch to a marketing plan that covers a period of time two to three years in advance.
The process of creating your marketing plan will be the most difficult part. Actually implementing the plan will be easier than creating it. Expect the process of developing a marketing plan to take several months. The plan should be created using your field of hired experts, including people from your finance, supply, management and personal departments. Don’t forget to hire a marketing expert or experts to help. Make sure to include the input of all your experts to ensure that you are not missing anything.
Your marketing plan will have several benefits for your company, including:
- Giving your employees something to rally behind– the marketing plan shows your employees what the company is going to accomplish and how it is going to accomplish these things. This can give every employee a sense of team and purpose to rally behind.
- Providing a set of instructions to follow– a marketing plan is just like a set of instructions. It forecasts a step by step plan of how the company plans to succeed, which gives your employees something to follow.
- Allowing new employees to jump on board quickly– as your company grows and changes it will take on new employees. The business’s marketing plan will clearly define what the company’s goals and achievements will be, which will help new employees jump on board and be ready to contribute much faster.
Types of Marketing Campaigns
There are many different types of marketing campaigns and how you decide to market your business will depend heavily on your individual factors. There are several major types of marketing campaigns to consider however, and you may choose to implement several of these campaigns types simultaneously.
Some of the different types of marketing include:
- Print advertising- this includes advertising techniques such as magazines, newspapers and flyers. These allow you to get your brand or advertising information out to specific readers and these marketing efforts usually need to be created months in advance.
- TV and Radio- television and radio ads can be used to reach an extraordinarily large amount of potential customers at any given time. These are effect yet expensive forms of marketing.
- Direct mail- these campaigns focus on brochures, postcards and flyers that are sent to customers through their mail. This technique is rather outdated but still serves some purpose.
- Online marketing- online marketing is probably the most cost-effective and most useful type of marketing in today’s world. These techniques can encompass websites, email marketing, SEO or organic search engine marketing and social media.
Your marketing team will have to carefully consider a number of factors when it comes up with your business’s marketing plan, including your product or service, who you are trying to reach, what message you are trying to send and how much money you are willing to spend to spend on marketing.
Do your marketing research.
Research into your market will be the backbone of how you both create your marketing plan and how you improve upon it. A lack of good market research will cause you to lose potential customers and sales. There are many ways to conduct market research, including but not limited to surveys, focus groups and internet searches.
Determine your target audience a head of time.
In order to develop an effective way to market to your business’s target audience you must know who this audience is first. This will help you find the best ways to reach them. Find out as much about your targeted customers as you can so that you can figure out how to directly reach them in the future.
Clearly define your resources.
You cannot create a detailed marketing plan for your business if you don’t know what resources your business has to work with first. Therefore it is a good idea to clearly define what resources your company has to work with. These resources can include how much money you can devote to marketing, how much staff you can use and which tactics are available for you.
Make sure your marketing plan is flexible.
Flexibility is an important trait for every business to have, because today’s business world is ever changing. This is especially true of your marketing plan. Markets and customers constantly change and it is vital for your company to be able to change with them. Ensure that your marketing plan takes these changes into account and is always ready to change with the times.
- Existing Versus New Customers
One of your most important jobs as a new entrepreneur will be to find new customers through your marketing plan to help your business grow. Once your business is fully developed you will continue this quest. Businesses that are expanding spend a great deal of their time and resources looking for new clients and because of this they will often overlook a very important factor. This factor is retention of existing clients.
Your current customers are an extremely valuable part of your business. They have helped you attain success so far and are worthy of your loyalty. The fact is that it will cost your business less money to retain its loyal customers than it will to go out and find new customers. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be spending resources to generate new clientele, but it does mean that an important part of your marketing plan should be based on keeping the customers you already have. The average company will see an annual growth of 3% if they are able to retain all of its existing customers for one more month per year. There are lots of ways to work on retaining your existing customers.
Part of your marketing plan should include customer service.
One of the best ways to retain your current customers is to make sure they feel appreciated and happy with your business. Customer service and benefits should be included as part of your marketing plan, especially because they cost less than marketing to new clients.
Never assume that your customers will stay.
It is true that most people like to give their business to companies they like and trust. If you provide a good experience to your clients odds are they will come back the next time. This is a good thing to know, but never assume that your customers will automatically come back to you. There are lots of reasons why a customer may choose to give their business to someone else. Perhaps the other company has lower prices, has opened up a closer storefront or is offering better services. Remember that on average, repeat clients will spend about 33% more money at your business than a new customer will.
Be sincere with your customers.
The relationship you have with your existing customers will go a long way towards determining if they will stay your customers. People are very good at telling when a company is acting insincere. Consider long-term retention of your existing customers a worthy goal and be very sincere in your efforts. This means nurturing your current relationships and doing your best to make every transaction and interaction as positive as possible.
Online marketing strategies represent one of the most cost effective forms of marketing, especially for businesses that are relatively small. There are many forms of online marketing, including e-mail marketing, search engine optimization techniques, social media marketing, lead generation, online branding and straight up online advertising. While traditional forms of business advertising such as newspaper and television ads are still effective ways to reach potential customers, a vast majority of people will find the businesses they want to use via the internet. This makes online marketing strategies worth their weight in gold. Online marketing strategies have changed recently. This is because the internet is a constantly changing medium. If you want to run a successful online marketing campaign you need to be aware of and up to date with these changes. Remember the concept of surrounding yourself with experts. This form of marketing may be one of the best examples of how using the skills of an expert can help your business to succeed. Consider hiring an expert in the world of online marketing.
Always practice white hat marketing techniques.
There are two kinds of online marketing techniques- white hat techniques and black hat tactics. White hat marketing techniques are considered to be honest tactics that rely on hard work to accomplish. Black hat tactics are ways to cheat the system. These tactics will use systems that steal customer information from others, that blast potential customers with annoying messages, use never ending link wheels and that load up their website content with keywords in an attempt to generate false search engine results.
Major search engines like Google have ways to find people who use black hat tactics and will punish them severely. Considering how many people use Google to locate companies you should heed this warning. Also, many black hat tactics will alienate and annoy your customers so it is best to always stick to white hat marketing.
Pay attention to SERPs.
SERPs are search engine results pages. These are the pages that come up when a customer performs a search on major search engines like Google. Research clearly shows that online viewers will only choose companies and websites that are listed on the first SERP page they receive. This means that if your business’s website or links leading to its website doesn’t appear in the top ten results on a major search engine then people are not finding you.
The desire to achieve high SERP rankings has led to the creation of SEO or search engine optimization. There is an entire world of SEO marketing out there and it is worth your time to ensure that you are optimizing your website for high rankings. SEO can include things like keyword generation, Ad Word campaigns, content marketing, social media use, positive link building and connections with high authority websites. This is another place where an online marketing expert can make a world of difference.
Use social media.
Social media is huge in today’s online world. Your customers are using social media so you should be too. Social media is an inexpensive way to market your company, but it is also extremely useful. For example, you can use various social media platforms to establish your company as an authority in a specific niche, directly connect with customers, create a brand image for your business, resolve customer problems, announce news and updates about your company and improve customer service. All of this can be accomplished extremely cheaply, which makes social media marketing very important.
Use content marketing.
Content marketing is another useful form of online marketing that is both effective and inexpensive. Many companies overlook this form of marketing, which can be a big mistake. Content marketing can include things like podcasts, eBooks, articles, videos, games and blogs. These can be used to inspire confidence and knowledge about your company. In fact, 60% of consumers report having better feelings about companies after they read a custom publication about them. Just make sure that the content you produce is high quality, as low quality content will make your company look unprofessional in the eyes of your customers and will get you penalized by major search engines such as Google.