Do You Have a Marketing Mentality?
What is 'Marketing Mentality?' It is the discipline of constant awareness and re-evaluation of your marketing methods and image.
I'll assume that you have thought through your marketing efforts and made a plan. Hopefully, that plan is on paper so that you can review it periodically to see if it remains valid for your business today, and as you want it to be in the future. If not, I can't stress enough the importance of this essential "road map" step.
The problem with many small owner/operator businesses is the owner is heavily involved in the daily aspects of generating revenue, leaving little time to developing and evaluating a marketing plan. A business without a marketing plan is doomed to never reach its potential, or eventually fail, because it has no consistent influx of business. Here are three key elements to creating and keeping a marketing mentality.
Have a Marketing Plan
It will keep you focused and give you the ability to make revisions, as business needs change. A marketing plan also provides a standard, or baseline, to which you can compare and measure your business.
Don't let the word "plan" intimidate you. A plan can be as short as one page. However, you need to know more than how to fill in the blanks or put some information on paper. You need to know what a marketing plan is and what it can do for you. Once you know that, and begin to use your plan, you'll see results and wonder how you ever got along without it. Best of all, you'll have a leg up on much of your competition.
If you need help creating a plan, there are many small-business books that have sample plans. I also recommend attending an evening community college course on small-business marketing.
Look at the Plan Once a Month
Put it somewhere so that you have to come across it every month. Tape it to next month's calendar page. Put it in your monthly accounting records book. Store it as a monthly reminder in your computer calendar. However you do it, just do it. Then dedicate some time to it. Don't just hurriedly read it. Dwell a on each key element. You'll find that things start to pop out at you; things that you have not done, aren't working as well as you had anticipated, or are working just great or better than anticipated.
Prioritize and act on the things that you haven't done and aren't working well. Evaluate them and see if they still make sense for your business. Also, make sure that your overall marketing plan is still adequate for you business. Internal factors such as earnings projections, planned vacations, physical growth considerations (a single truck vs. two, etc), as well as external factors such as the economy, seasonal considerations and competitor activity can all influence how you'll fine tune your plan to stay busy, competitive and profitable.
Assess Your Image
We see ourselves much differently than others see us. You may think you have the perfect company name and image, but you could be missing the bull's eye by a mile. For example, if you target upper middle class consumers but have a company name, logo, prices, truck graphics and advertising that speak to the discount shopper, you have a real problem. The reverse would be true, as well.
I once spoke with a carpet cleaner that had difficulty getting the high-end customers he was targeting. His company name was "Price is Right Carpet Care." By focusing on price in his company name, the appeal is more to the price conscious buyer than the higher-end customer, who cares more about quality; if you can be trusted around expensive furnishings, whether you can do the job with minimal inconvenience to them, they'll pay a premium for that.
How do you assess your image? Through market research, which can be as simple as spending an afternoon at a shopping center showing your ad, business card and picture of your vehicle to strangers. Tell them that you are doing market research on image (don't say your company's image, or they may become reserved so as not to offend you). Ask them what kind of image or perception they get. Give them choices: Professional, affordable, expensive, reliable, capable, low end, etc., and record their responses. Finally, ask for their occupation or profession. It won't take long to see if you're projecting the right image for your intended audience, or "demographics" as we say in marketing.
Ninety percent of a marketing mentality is discipline - the discipline to constantly review and validate or modify your plan as necessary, and to evaluate how you're perceived with every ad, phone call, or personal appearance. Marketing is not finite; it's a continuum. As such, you have to keep adjusting your plan and your actions to fine-tune your business to your market's needs, and your consumers' expectations.