As we rush towards the start of a new financial year, business owners need to take time to review the marketing efforts of their businesses over the last 12 months and to formulate a comprehensive marketing plan for the next year.
Like most things in life, returning to the basics helps us develop plans that are more effective and efficient – and effectiveness and efficiency are just as important in a marketing context. So before you start thinking of how you are going to spend your marketing budget, make sure you are clear on these basics.
First, identify your ideal customer and make that group the target of your marketing efforts. If “everyone” is your potential customer, congratulations, you must be inundated with business and making a fortune. For most businesses though, your offering is not applicable to everyone and any marketing directed outside your target market is wasted effort.
Once you have identified your targets, you need to get their attention. This is typically the advertising part of the marketing process and is the part many business owners start (and finish) with. Here is where you evaluate the most efficient channel to reach your targets and the most appropriate message for that audience. Your primary objective here is to have your potential customer take action and contact your business to start the sales process.
Selling (or, if you don’t like the s-word, converting potential customers into real customers), is also an important part of the marketing process. Delivering on the express or implied promises made to gain your target market’s attention is often a difficult task. Not only do you need to deliver on your promises but you must also convince your customer that you have done so. This can be difficult if what you are selling is intangible.
And the final “basic” is retention or nurturing. For most businesses, if this part of the marketing process works perfectly, there will be no need for the previous steps. All customers will be loyal devotees who evangelise for your business to anyone who will listen. Reality is that no business can be perfect in this area (even Apple have to maintain their marketing efforts despite their band of loyal devotees).
It’s important to realise that everyone in your team understand the role they play in the marketing effort. Sales staff, delivery people, accounts people and so on all contribute, primarily to the last two parts. Regular reminders of this important fact will be necessary.
Getting back to basics with your marketing planning will assist both effectiveness and efficiency. Both of these are essential to the profitability of your business and its long term viability.