Whether you are strategic planning for your business or creating a marketing plan for a product, you'll find it useful to start by analysing your current situation. An effective tool to use for this is a SWOT analysis matrix.
SWOT is short for:
SWOT analysis (or a SWOT matrix) is a strategic planning technique used to help identify strengths and weaknesses, then compare them with market opportunities and threats related to business competition or external forces.
Why would you use it?
1) It’s a simple but strategic way to start the thinking process needed for planning
It will help you (or your team) begin thinking about things that they might not think of day to day, and provide a way to document them.
The idea of listing items in each category, evaluating the most important ones, and identifying connections can ignite the fire of creativity. People might be inspired to begin market research, look closer at their current competitors, or shine a new light on liabilities so they can be addressed.
Overall, a SWOT analysis allows individuals and teams to understand their businesses better — both in terms of the internal and the external environment.
2) It provides a balanced view
Let’s face it, it's easy to get excited about opportunities and strengths! But this tool forces you to also consider the downsides of your product or organization.
3) It’s great for teams
A single person can do the analysis, but the best results are accomplished when a team works on the analysis. It’s a way to bring employees from different functional areas and levels in the organization together to provide insights. And because the SWOT is easy to use, it promotes healthy discussion and assists individuals with different backgrounds to exchange ideas freely.
People in the meeting will all be on the same page, so to speak.
4) It's Flexible
It’s a tool that can be used for many applications -- it can be used to assess the current state of a company, product, or new business idea.
5) It’s tested
SWOT analysis not trendy, it is a tested method that works. And it works quickly – usually the initial SWOT can be completed by a team in less than an hour, creating data that is easily prioritized for further analysis and action.
Thanks for reading!
If you'd like more information about planning for marketing success or using the SWOT, please contact us.
Have you used the SWOT analysis recently? Let us know if the comments.
Congratulations! If you are reading this, you've made it to the 4th quarter of this crazy year.
Being the 4th quarter means it's now time to start thinking about next year, and
if there are secret sauces to business success - market planning is one of them.
But let's face it, marketing planning isn't secret -- it’s just difficult for many business owners (and even marketing teams) to take the time to develop one. A recent survey done by Search Engine Journal found that only about 50% of small businesses with fewer than 50 employees have a marketing plan developed. If you're part of the 50% who hasn't done a market plan - or maybe have one but it is a couple years old - here are 4 things to consider.
4 important reasons why you should develop a marketing plan:
1. It helps you think through your business strategy and align your marketing efforts with your goals and values. You then can formulate marketing objectives that help you, or your organization achieve its mission.
The planning process helps ground your goals in reality. Your goal may be to be leader in your area of expertise, increase profitability, or have a well-compensated and loyal employee base. Or perhaps you want to be able to give support to your local community. Whatever your objectives are, the planning process will help you see if they are feasible, considering your situation.
2. It helps you focus. There are many marketing tools and opportunities -- it’s easy to become distracted and lose sight of your intended business goals. Having a plan acts as a compass - it will help you clearly see where you want to go and assure you that you are heading in a direction aligned with your goals and core values.
For example -- you may have some great new ideas for your business that you’d like to try and including them in your marketing plan will help you determine how feasible they are. If they are in the plan, they won’t be forgotten or thrown in as an afterthought.
3. It helps you establish tasks, timelines, and milestones. A good marketing plan includes clearly defined objectives and tactics; outlining these makes it easier to identify the tasks that need to be done, who should do them, and when they need to be done by. This will help you get the most out of promotions and seasonal or local events.
4. It will help you see if you need financing. Once you know what you need to do, especially marketing-wise, you can identify areas in which you’ll require financial assistance. Having a well thought out marketing plan shows that you mean business (pun intended)!
So set aside some time to create a sound marketing plan for your business – you’ll be glad you did.
If you need help getting started or developing your market planning, please contact us to bounce around ideas or join our email list.
Our next blog will focus on the important aspects of an effective marketing plan - watch for it!
Thanks for reading :)
Face to face meetings and networking are a major part of many businesses' marketing strategy. With the outbreak of Covid-19, with meetings and events cancelled, it is a good time to step back and reexamine our short and longer-term marketing/communication initiatives.
So what adjustments can be made?
1) Your online presence is more important now than ever
Start by checking your Website and email list:
Is your website up to date? It might be a good time to refresh your content, paying attention to your key messages and keywords.
2) Think Beyond Digital
With people staying home and social distancing – they may be more open to talking by phone and/or reading their mail.
3) Bring people together using technology
Is a meeting needed to brainstorm or exchange ideas? There are several tools you can use:
To sum it up -- don’t just hang in there – grab this as a unique opportunity.
The businesses that look at this as a challenge -- to freshen their marketing approach and even capture new business -- can and will prosper.
If you have any questions or would like to talk about your communication strategy, contact us.
Thanks for reading!
Do your customers know that you appreciate them?
Listening to your customers while making sure they receive excellent products and services is essential to building a long-lasting brand. It’s a year-round job! Any season is a good time for customer appreciation, but during the holidays, taking time out to thank your customers is a nice way to let them know you appreciate them.
What's the best way to do this?
It depends on your business situation and who your customers are. Start by thinking about what you know about your customers and what they might value or enjoy, then scan the list below for ideas.
If you decide to send gifts, select ones that are consistent with your brand values. For example, if your values include supporting the local community, choose treats from non-profits or gifts from local artists or businesses. In the Triangle area, Life Experiences, Inc offers wonderful brownie and cookie trays for your office or key customers. The artists at StarworksNC offer unique glass, pottery, and woven gifts. For those environmentally minded, the World Wildlife Fund has an array of choices. Or instead of gifts, you could offer to donate to a charity of their choice.
Thank you for reading! We appreciate our readers and wish you a Happy Holiday season.
As a customer, what type of customer appreciation do you value most?
Do you know of a non-profit with ideas for customer gifts? Please feel free to share the links in the comments.
Marketing consultants can be important to the success of small businesses. They offer an unbiased, fresh perspective on your business, growth opportunities, and preferred target customers. The right marketing consultant can identify, develop and implement strategies that can successfully grow your business by:
Selecting and building a relationship with the right marketing consultant is a key step to achieving success for your business.
Before hiring a marketing consultant, it is a good idea to review your business goals -- both short and longer term.
In addition, clarify what kind of relationship and personality you are looking for in partnering with your consultant. If you do this, it will make it much easier to identify the consultant with the competencies, experience and communication style that most closely matches your needs.
Six questions to ask when choosing your Marketing Consultant:
1)Tell me about your expertise -- what is your background?
This may seem obvious, but there are many self-proclaimed “marketing gurus” out there, so beware. A solid education in Business is a must and an MBA / Masters in Marketing a big plus. Marketing affects other areas of the business and the consultant should be able to grasp the whole picture before recommending marketing plans.
Marketing consultants develop different skills and specialties throughout their careers. Look for a consultant with a skills profile that matches your requirements. For example, if you need to develop a strategy for growth, ask about the consultant’s strategic capabilities. If your target market is local, you’ll want the consultant to understand the opportunities in the area.
2)Have you worked with small businesses?
Experience owning and/or working with small business is a BIG plus. Small businesses have many unique challenges larger established companies do not. Understanding those challenges takes “time in the trenches” to fully appreciate. Just as important, your marketing consultant must be able to demonstrate experience and success in solving the types of challenges your company faces.
3) What tools or processes do you use in your work?
Consultants often use business models and other tools. Understanding their approach to gathering information and working through a project may help you determine if it’s appropriate for your situation. It will also show you if the consultant follows a process, versus falling back on "canned" solutions that worked for one firm but may not work for yours.
4) Am I comfortable working with this person?
The working relationship between you, your key partners/employees and the marketing consultant is extremely important. Your consultant’s communication style, personal branding/business values and level of commitment should be compatible with yours and your company’s. Do they use words implying themselves as telling and selling or partnering, creating and facilitating? Assess if they are a “hands-on” partner during implementation or more consultative. These are extremely critical expectations that you and your consultant need to understand and agree upon before the relationship begins.
5) Does the consultant have time for me?
Understanding the consultant’s resources/network and client load is a consideration for you. How many clients do they have? Do they have specialists they can call on when needed? Having many clients often sounds good but is not necessarily better for small business owners. A consultant that is a dedicated partner to a few clients can spend more time understanding and focusing on your business and is always there quickly when needed.
6) Can I talk with references?
Last but not least, ask for references and call them. Check out their LinkedIn profile for recommendations. These references can give you insight into the consultant’s capabilities, working style and character.
Choosing the right marketing consultant for you and your business can be one of the most critical and rewarding decisions you make. Asking the questions outlined above while talking with potential marketing consultants will help to ensure a productive successful partnership.
Thanks for reading! If you have questions on working with a marketing consultant, please contact us!
When considering marketing options for new business, owners often ask about websites.
Questions like Do I really need a website? or How much will I have to spend? are frequently on their minds. There is a good reason for this – a website is a major investment of time and resources.
So if this is something that you've been thinking about, keep reading! We've compiled the following considerations, recommendations, and cost estimates to help you.
Question 1 -- Do you need a website?
Yes. A website is a recommended investment in the success of your business.
A well-developed website:
Note: There are a very few small businesses that can survive totally on word of mouth or by having a great location. But for the vast majority of businesses, prospective customers will use the website as a verification that you are a real business.
Question 2 – how much should you expect to spend?
The answer depends on your business situation - the type of business, the profile of preferred customers and the marketing strategy to attract them.
Effectively launching or reinvigorating a business goes beyond creating a website and includes developing a marketing strategy with more than one way to attract customers. So how much you should spend depends on several factors -- look for options that fit your business goals and budget.
Thanks for reading! For questions on websites or marketing strategies to grow your business, contact us.
Do you feel like no one is reading the content you've so carefully composed, edited and maybe even sweated over?
If so, you have a good deal of company -- there are many blogs out there and very few business owners start with a large following! To help you get more readers, here are some tips from Neil Patel (who should know, as he averages 37,000+ visitors to his blog) :
Thanks for reading! Let me know if any of these work for you. :)
If you need more ideas, go to the link for Neil's original post -- you can find it between post 902 and 903.
Whether you are an established business or just starting out, your website is an important vehicle for prospective clients to find and become interested in your services. It should be a great representative of your brand and the expertise you offer.
Does your site contain the information your prospects need to consider your firm?
Let's start with some facts. According to a recent survey conducted by the Society for Marketing Professional Services, SMPS, there are five types of information prospective buyers look for:
#1 Expertise /Project Descriptions -- Prospects check for expertise to see if the firm has successful experience with projects that are similar to the one that they are looking to hire an outside firm to help with.
#2 Firm profile/history -- Prospects visit this section to learn about a firm’s size, longevity and priorities to see if they should contact them. They might also look for credentials, methodology, value or techniques/process. For example, for Architecture and Engineering firms, they may check for an ACASS rating (rating from the Federal Government) or professional memberships.
#3 Services provided -- This section helps prospective clients verify that the firm can provide the types of service(s) that they need. Examples can help illustrate expertise and this information could be on the same page as the project descriptions.
#4 Client lists -- The fourth most visited area is client lists. Viewing a client list gives a prospect the confidence knowing the firm has worked for others in their industry. Testimonials are also helpful.
#5 Staff info -- While this area was only visited by 24% of respondents of the survey, when asked about what things they would have liked to check that they did not find on websites, they answered staff information, especially qualifications and certifications in the biographies of the staff.
Other items that impact prospect perceptions include:
Quality of the site itself – typos, difficult navigation, or outdated web design were sited as items that reflected negatively on the quality of the firm.
Inconsistent Branding - images, content and graphics that do not reflect the companies values, culture and offerings.
Contact information – it is important that there is a way to contact the firm on each page.
Does your website provide the key information listed above a way that supports your brand and business development efforts? If you are not sure if it does, please contact us to schedule a website review.
Other blogs on this topic:
Are you posting more but getting less from your efforts? As a small business marketer or owner, you only have so much time and resources. Explore the eight questions below to see how you can increase your social media impact.
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Marketing Tips is dedicated to providing busy professionals and local businesses with information on marketing trends, strategy and tactics in a way that is both accurate and easy to read.