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 :)
The pandemic has impacted our lifestyles and the way we do business. One of the areas where it has had a significant impact is on conferences, trade shows, and live events.
People attend business events to learn, meet new people, and nurture relationships. Businesses use them to build awareness, educate attendees, generate leads, and establish thought leadership.
When it was not possible to have face-to-face events, some were canceled and some went virtual.
How well do virtual events work?
Are virtual events the way of the future?
To add to my research and observations, I asked a group of experts – individuals that frequently attend or host events -- to provide their perspectives and experiences with the virtual format.
Overall, there are many positive aspects of virtual events:
1) The potential audience is expanded
The ability to reach a wider audience was a positive aspect I heard most frequently – virtual events are not restrained by geography – opening up a wider world for both presenters and attendees.
Speakers could present from their home offices (or anywhere where there is a strong internet connection) and attendees faced lower barriers to participation. Online events typically cost less to produce and attend (some even waived the ticket price), and there are no travel costs, which is good for start-ups, small companies, or any organization with a tight budget.
2) More Efficient
Because you have the convenience of participating from home or office, virtual events are less disruptive of regular work schedules as even local events require travel time. And for events with more than one speaker, it is easy to "zoom" in and out, viewing just the most relevant sessions to attend.
3) Networking is different but better in some ways
Networking was still possible via breakout rooms or chat functions. For many events, it is easy to see who is attending and to message another attendee that you want to meet. For some, this is easier than walking across a room and striking up a conversation.
Virtual events can also have an equalizing effect – people who are smaller in stature or who have softer voices sometimes struggle to be heard, especially at an event or meeting with many people or ambient noise. Since there is no sound in a chatbox, and you can position yourself the way you want in front of the camera, everyone is equal. And for some people it is easier to ask questions in a chatbox than in front of a group, helping to increase interaction between audience and presenters and enrich the learning experience.
What is Missing from Virtual Events?
1) Social interactions
Not surprisingly, those who mentioned they were extroverts missed the casual exchanges, happy hours, and lunch/dinners after the event.
2) Spontaneous interactions and humor
It’s hard to have those chance encounters in the hallway at a virtual event as well as there is less opportunity for spontaneous ideas to hatch when having a casual conversation during meeting breaks. Additionally, spontaneous humor and comments that add to meetings and lightens presentations may not be picked up (or the participants are on mute).
Are virtual events more or less rewarding?
Most of the respondents thought that the virtual events were either as rewarding or more rewarding as face-to-face events.
How do you think the current situation will impact the future?
For forward-thinking organizations, it already has – for example, PMMI, who produces Pack Expo and Healthcare Packaging Expo, is incorporating virtual technology to accommodate individuals who will not travel to their November 2020 show. And if conditions are not safe, they have plans to convert to a fully virtual format.
The people I asked agreed with this:
To sum it up:
For both now and in the foreseeable future, virtual platforms offer many positive aspects for hosting your business events, showcasing your strengths and connecting with your target audience.
And it appears from all of the positive feedback that even when it is safe again to hold in-person events, they most likely will take a hybrid form that uses virtual technology to enhance and customize the attendee’s experience.
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In our last blog, we talked about generating ideas. Good ideas can come from many sources, including observation, employee suggestions and brainstorming sessions.
But what if you have more good ideas than time or resources to implement them? How do you make sure the best ideas don’t get overlooked? The answer is to systematically prioritize your ideas inline with your resources.
Large organizations have formal “Stage-gate” processes to manage the flow of ideas and prioritize implementation of the best ones. But if you are part of a smaller team or organization, you may not have such a system set in place. Without a way to evaluate and rank the ideas, you or your organization can fall into opportunistic mode, trying to jump on every opportunity as it comes along or working on "pet" projects that don't leave resources free for ideas that have more potential.
To help you sort through and prioritize multiple opportunities, check out the framework we've developed:
The Broad Reach Marketing 5-Step Prioritizing Framework
1) List and describe the ideas you've generated.
Some great ideas might require a bit of refinement or explanation. Look to see if any ideas are better when combined or built upon. Take the time to think through and define each one.
Score each idea on the following aspects:
4) Plot on a chart so you can visually see where your ideas rank when you consider effort vs. return on that effort.
Meet with potential customers. Don’t tell them the benefits of your idea; just show or illustrate what it does and ask the following questions:
This process can be done using whiteboards, flip charts or spreadsheets -- or a combination of all three. The key is to focus on the ideas that fit with the organization and will generate the best return on investment.
Have questions about generating ideas or implementing this process? Contact us!
Marketing plans aren’t just for big businesses; every organization can benefit from one. But if you are a business owner or part of a small marketing team, it might seem like a luxury - something you’d like to do when you get the time. In fact, only 56% of small businesses with fewer than 50 employees have a marketing plan developed.
Marketing plans aren’t the only thing that organizations are missing -- many admit they don't have specific marketing goals. And outlining specific goals is important -- as the saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there?
5 important reasons why you should take the time and effort to develop a marketing plan:
1. It helps you think through your business strategy and align your marketing efforts effectively.
You’ll then formulate marketing objectives that help your business achieve its mission and become successful.
2. It keeps you – and your team -- focused.
There are many marketing tools and opportunities -- it’s easy to become distracted, losing sight of your intended business goals. The marketing planning process helps focus on your priorities so you’re not spending time and resources on activities that won’t help you attain your goals.
3. It formalizes ideas and concepts.
You may have some great ideas for your business you’d like to try – including them in your marketing plan will help you determine how feasible they are. Once they are in the plan, you’ll be focused to work on them.
4. 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.
5. It can help you obtain financing.
A business plan is a must if you want to obtain financing, 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 – chances are you’ll be glad you did.
Need help creating your plan? Get your copy of our market planning ebook to help your business grow!
Need more leads?
If the answer is yes, you are in good company. According to a recent report 63% of business leaders named generating traffic and leads as one of their top challenges.
So how do you generate more leads?
Successful companies use a combination of tactics that best fit their market and objectives ( see the list below).
Since prospective customers might not be ready to buy immediately, they also design a follow up system to nurture the leads. There are many tactics to choose from including advertising, mailings, social media and events.
Which tactics will work best for you?
Puppies are great (I love puppies) !
But even with these cuties on your side, you will get the best results when you start your lead generation efforts with a solid process like the one outlined below:
For example, Sally Forth Products is new retail business that creates high-end, customized products for individuals. They’ve gotten great feedback from current customers, but this type product is only reordered once a year. Looking at their overhead and other costs, they realize that need to double their customer base by 50% by the end of the year to break-even.
Sally Forth's current customers are in a high-income demographic and women drive the majority of purchase decisions. They have found that customers can be segmented by the way they approach the purchase decision.
1) Nina Needitnow -- has an immediate need for the product, knows the style she wants and the sales cycle is short. This type of customer needs a minimum of nurturing but needs polite, personal, responsive service.
2) Greta Gather -- is thinking and planning. She may love the concept, but may consider it for over a year before deciding.
The team at Sally Forth Products decide they to promote awareness and attract more "Ninas". Both target customer types tend to to to the same sources for information, so they chose tactics to suit each buying cycle.
Sally Forth Products is currently running traditional and search engine advertising, experiencing varying levels of success. To address the immediate needs of "Ninas" they added the phone number in their search engine ads, then streamlined the contact process and trained the team to answer the phone in a friendly, professional manner by the first or second ring.
They've also decided to compliment the ads they are running with a digital campaign to nurture "Gretas". They're developing two downloadable pieces of content to gather the emails of interested individuals and a series of emails to follow up the download. To deliver this content, they are beefing up their social media presence and plan to promote posts to their targeted audience.
Sally Forth Products put their plan into action; they logged the source of all new customer calls and are eliminating ads that did not generate customer interest. Their email list has tripled with some of the "Gretas" converting earlier than expected in the cycle.
Lead generation is important to building your business and following these steps will help you get better results.
If we can help you determine the tactics that will fit your business situation, please contact us.
Thanks for reading !
Need ideas? Get the 14 Tips to Build and Grow Your List today!
While marketing a business takes thoughtful planning, implementation, feedback and adjustment, developing a clear positioning statement can make your efforts easier and more successful. This is because the positioning statement helps guide your tactical marketing efforts and internal operations to work together for better outcomes.
4 Steps to Create a Successful Positioning Statement
When creating your market position statement, focusing on these four elements will help ensure you have a quality end result.
1) Identify and articulate the profile of your most profitable customer
Take an inventory of your past and current customers. Which ones have provided you with the most sustained and profitable business? Identify them and list out what you know about them.
For example, a B2C business would want to list socioeconomic characteristics – demographics such as age, gender, education level, income level, marital status, occupation, or average size of family.
Highlight the characteristics they have in common to create your optimal customer profile.
This is the target market that you offer the best solutions to fit their situations/needs. Remember – keep it narrow! You are not eliminating others who may purchase your offerings - just focusing your efforts and resources towards those most closely aligned with your business success.
2) What / Who is Your Competition?
Potential customers have a wide range of methods to research buying solutions and comparing competing offerings. This increases the importance of clear, concise messaging that enables the researcher to find, and easily understand, your business offerings and how they differ from your competition. So find out where you stand.
3) Why Are You Different and Better for Your Target Customer?
Now that you have clearly identified your target customer and competition, define how your company offerings are superior to the other alternatives.
Begin by brainstorming a list of all the ways your company and its products/services are different and better than the competitions. Next, prioritize this list by the perceived value to your target customer. (You may want to survey them to find out which have the most value to them.) Select the top two or three differentiators -- you'll need these for the next step.
4) Write your Market Positioning Statement
This is a short statement describing your business and its remarkable qualities -- what you offer and how it uniquely solves your target customer's problem. It must be a memorable phrase - one you can use when introducing your company.
Remember – shorter is better!
Have it contain the top two or three distinguishing aspects you identified in the step above, coupled with the specific characteristics of your target customer. Test it out on many people to ensure that employees, customers and those you meet can all recite it with ease.
Using our previous example, the firm might have found that their personalized knowledge of the client’s situation, quick response and ability to work to prevent legal hassles was most valued by their clients. Their statement might read – Our business offers highly personalized legal expertise and rapid, proactive response to small for- profit environmental lobbying organizations.
In conclusion, taking the time to go through these four steps helps gain the perspective and understanding necessary for creating market positioning statement. Ultimately, your positioning statement can be used as a guide for your company’s culture, marketing efforts and allocation of time and resources. A laser like focus on your preferred target customer will increase the return on your marketing efforts, the top line and ultimately impact the long-term success of your business.
Thanks for reading! If you have questions or need help with positioning your business, please Contact us.
Social Media - it's everywhere!
Both large and small organizations use social media. Large companies are most visible and usually use multiple channels, but small businesses are active as well – in fact, over 41% of small businesses use Facebook to support their marketing efforts.
And no wonder -- social media can be used for both outgoing and inbound communications. Organizations can listen and monitor for customer service and public relations feedback as well as communicate and engage their target market.
But you may have noticed that some organizations get more out of their efforts than others. Their audience likes, shares and comments more often, resulting in greater awareness and better connections.
What are the keys to these successful social media programs?
1) Specific Goals
First, these organizations are not just "doing" social media. They start with objectives that are aligned with organizational goals and values. Social media is often used to support specific objectives, like growing awareness for a new offering, communicating brand and organizational values, or supporting recruitment.
2) Audience Knowledge
The program is built on knowledge of the target customer and what interests them.
3) Offers Value
Social media should include information and topics of interest to engage. Posting information that is entertaining, or that customers might not find elsewhere (like exclusive notices of sales or coupons), and encouraging interaction is key. These organizations think of social media as a conversation with their followers rather than a sales announcement tool. With social media, you have to earn your following, so any sales messages have to be subtle and sprinkled through the other messages – less than 20% of the content.
4) Prioritized Tactics
Successful social media programs take time and consistent effort to build a following. To maximize resources, efforts are focused on channels that appeal most to the target market and fit the organization’s content. They try to be where the potential market is, but don’t try to be everywhere! Better to excel at two channels than have a scattered presence on five.
5) Team Effort and Coordination
Coordination helps get the best out of social media. For small business as well as larger ones, a designated team and coordinated calendar are essential. Planning consistent messaging across platforms, knowing in advance of events and other initiatives, leveraging the following on one channel to point to content on another, and having a reliable source of fresh content are benefits of a well-coordinated team.
6) Clear Guidelines
Many industries have regulations and restrictions on what can be made public. In addition, it is a good idea to have ground rules that employees may refer to when posting or re-posting/retweeting information about the organization.
7) Measurements, Analysis and Adjustments
Success social media efforts are tracked and measured so they can be continually improved. Simple measures like shares, likes, retweets and comments can indicate engagement. A growing number of followers can indicate awareness. Depending on the goals, there are other measures as well:
Great social media programs have their finger on the pulse of the audience and stakeholders. Feedback collected from customers and employees is used to refine the content and can be valuable to marketing and business growth decisions.
Thanks for reading! How does your organization run their social media programs? What have you found that works best?
If you have questions or would like to explore team-based social media marketing, please contact us.
Image credit: John Atkinson's Cartoons
Broad Reach Marketing helps professional practices and local businesses engage and retain customers with practical, effective branding, strategy and promotions.
We love to help good ideas and organizations grow!
Other articles you may find interesting:
How to Make it Easier for Patients to Find Your Practice
4 Tips for Protecting your Online Reputation
This is the third and final blog in our series of three focusing on rebranding a business.
The first blog, “When is Rebranding the Answer?” concentrated on the questions to ask and situations where rebranding may be the strategically right thing to do for renewing or expanding your business.
The second, ” So You’ve Decided to Rebrand- What’s Next?” focuses on the process of researching and defining your new brand.
Our final blog, "The Nitty Gritty Rebranding Check List" is just that - a tool developed to assist you as you go about your re-branding effort.
The Rebranding Checklist
Phase I – Creation
Complete your market research
Gain Feedback - Inputs from:
Re-define your positioning
Gain Stakeholder Consensus on Re-Branding Profile
Finalize your new strategic direction:
Clear Vision Statement
Company Culture & Values Statement
Clear Marketplace Value Proposition
Finalize Creative Logo tag line and styles that represents the organization as defined above
Phase II – Internal Re-alignment
Employee / Management Education and Consensus:
Why the new emphasis – What’s in it for the business and them
How it affects everyone behaviorally
How the change will be measured
Phase III – Non Web-based Re-alignment
Phase IV – Web-based Re-alignment
On-page SEO: Titles, Keywords, Meta Descriptions
Opt-in form for Email Newsletter
Phase V – External Notification
Who to Contact How to Contact
Notification methods may include:
Written Notification (letters, forms etc)
Social Media Announcements
Launch Luncheons or Festivities
Thanks for reading!
Contact us for a free copy of this checklist (spreadsheet format).
This is Blog 2 of a three part series on Rebranding. The first post is "When is Rebranding the Answer?"
It’s the beginning of a new year and you plan to make some changes to your business. And one of them is to rebrand as you revitalize or expand.
So what steps do you need to take? As you work through the process of creating a new brand, please keep in mind the definition of a “brand” as defined by Seth Godin:
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that,
taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or
service over another.”
1) Understand your current image
Using that definition, the first step to successful rebranding is finding out what current customers, employees and key stakeholders REALLY think of your organization and the brand that represents it.
When gathering this feedback, pay particular attention to:
2) Identify Brand Characteristics
Once the feedback is collected, the next step is to identify the key characteristics of the new brand.
The output from this analysis will be a statement of brand attributes.
3) Get Creative
Now the fun begins! Set up a brainstorming session to generate options for the desired brand name, logo, tag-line and/or other branding symbols. Then, keeping in mind target customers’ demographics and perspectives, narrow the brainstorm list down to 2-3 potentials. Even if you hire an outside agency, be sure to invite key employees, management and stakeholders to participate in this process – they can be sources of creative ideas and their participation will help to increase buy-in and support.
4) Check Availability
Sometimes everyone’s favorite option isn’t available, so be sure to check the availability and suitability of the final choices.
Here’s an example of what can happen if you skip this step.
A local Pesticide company wanted a new look to reflect a change in management. The old branding included a dark brown logo of a tank. The updated look included lighter colors, predominantly yellow. Seemed like a good change. But when they implemented the new branding, they ordered new yellow shirts for the service crew. Unfortunately, the shirts showed dirt and sweat easily; the technicians disliked them for this and customer impressions were poor. After a while, the company listened, reversing their decision and returning to brown shirts, but this could have been avoided by involving key individuals in the rebranding creation process.
When selecting your new brand, remember to test before full implementation takes place.
Does the new brand convey the right message?
Is the tag line appropriate?
Does the logo have a hidden (unintended) meaning or symbol?
Testing may seem time consuming, but even well established companies have made the mistake of not testing and incurred embarrassment and negative impacts.
What can happen:
When Airbnb unveiled this logo, it generated a wave of criticism for its design.
Some likened it to a triangular paperclip or something else unintended.
6) Plan Implementation
Finally, the devil is in the details! Take the time to plan for every aspect of implementing the new brand. The best branding is consistent; therefore updating everything customers come in contact with is important. Often it is advisable to include a “soft launch” before announcing your new brand.
Our third and final blog entitled the Nitty Gritty Rebranding Checklist will include a handy list of common items to update during your implementation phase. Please watch for it!
Thanks for reading, and as always comments and additional thoughts are appreciated. If you have questions concerning your rebranding efforts please contact us!
You’ve got big dreams ...
and a great idea for a business.
But striking out on your own seems incredibly risky.
In fact, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA), over 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years.
But then again, if you never try you’ll never know -- and that can be a huge regret as well.
So go for it! Just do it in a way that gives you the best odds for success. One of the first things you can do to even out those odds is start with a solid value proposition.
If you haven't created a value proposition before, don't worry. There's more than one way to do it, and two of them are listed below to help guide your thinking.
Option One -- Two simple sentences
The first sentence has four parts:
The second sentence clarifies:
Option 2 - Just three questions
Creating a value proposition is helpful not only as a guide for your thinking, but to refer to later in your marketing.
Have you used either of these? Which do you prefer, or have you used something better?
We always welcome your questions and comments!
*The example is only for illustration. As far as I know, it's not a real idea.
About our Blog:
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.