Your 9-Step Marketing Plan - Step 8

May 4, 2009
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Welcome to another edition of “Your 9-Step Marketing Plan.” To review the past seven chapters in this series, search “Your 9-Step Marketing Plan” on www.icsmag.com.

So far in this series we’ve looked at:
  • Step 1: Set Your Sales Goals
  • Step 2: Outline a Description of Your Service
  • Step 3: Position Yourself
  • Step 4: Identifying Your Target Market
  • Step 5: Competition Assessment
  • Step 6: Pricing Strategies
  • Step 7: Packaging and Fulfillment
Step 8: Sales and Marketing Vehicles When most small-business owners begin to think about marketing, this is usually where they start, and that is a big mistake! By starting at Step 8, you have left out seven very important steps!

This is the reason most small businesses don’t have as much business as they would like and why they don’t have the kind of business they like. If you just throw out your seed at random on any soil, using any old tool, you just aren’t going to get the results you want.

If your thought pattern is “How can I get more jobs?” you are being a bit shortsighted. Now, don’t get me wrong, nothing happens in a business until a sale is made; you must get jobs! But are they the right kind of jobs? Are you focusing on the highest profit and highest-impact marketing source available to you?

A “marketing vehicle” is any strategy you use to get more business. Although it includes advertising for new customers, it also includes everything you do to get your existing customers to become lifetime clients. This is a great example of looking beyond “just getting jobs.” Don’t ignore your past clients – those who have already demonstrated that they will buy from you at your prices (assuming that is the case and you have good customers! If not, this is a perfect article for you).

I am often asked, “Does “X” work?” Fill in the blank: “Does Yellow Page advertising work?” “Does Internet marketing work?” “Does radio advertising work?” “Do flyers work?”

The fact that people are asking this question at all tells me there is a need for some marketing education.

Here’s why: Whether a specific media will work for you depends on a number of factors. Does the medium reach your prime target audience? For example, if you advertise during an NBA basketball game, you aren’t likely to reach the number of women you would during Desperate Housewives.

The message you use, the frequency, the offer, the timing, the count, and many other factors come into play. Just recently I got an e-mail from that went like this:

“I am thinking about doing 10,000 postcards and the salesman said I should expect an 8-10% return. What do you think?”

Now, come on, don’t you think this depends on many factors? One would need much more information to know whether it has a prayer or not. So, the answer to the question, “Does X work?” is “It depends.”

It depends on how you define what “works.” If you want to get jobs, then just about any advertising you do might work. And it might not. So, choosing the right vehicle depends on several things:
  • What kind of results are you looking for? How many jobs? How much money? How many leads, etc. See your Sales Goals.
  • Who are you trying to reach? See your Target Market. You have to ask yourself whether your prime target market will respond to this particular vehicle.
  • What is the message? You could have the best vehicle with a poor message. For example, I might be standing in front of a perfect prospect who is ready to buy, but I act like an idiot so they don’t. Or, I may place a crappy ad in a place teeming with my target market, but the ad doesn’t connect with them, so I don’t get calls.
The variety of sales and marketing vehicles is too numerous to list here, but here’s a simple formula for you:
  • First, write down everything you do now that is working.
  • Second, write down all the things that you “should” be doing that you are not doing.
  • Third, write down all the things that you have seen, heard about, or thought about that you might want to try. Then pick a few of the “most likely to succeed” and do some testing. But do that only after you have done everything that you “should” be doing.
Finally, many are tempted to use marketing vehicles that don’t have much chance of success for two reasons:

Reason No. 1: Being a lazy marketer. It is easier to say yes to a Yellow Page rep than to go out and build relationships. That said, I am not against Yellow Pages. In fact, I have advised some of my members to keep their Yellow Pages ads because it was working for them. But a high-end service company is best built through relationships. Transactional business is transient at best.

Reason No. 2: Not being a student of marketing. This idea of jumping right to the question “Does it work?” and not thinking through the strategy, the message, the goals, the long-term effect, the brand and all of the other things I have shared in this series thus far, is a disease among carpet cleaners. Think and grow phenomenally successful. Think about your marketing and ignore emotional decisions. Base it on facts. Base it on numbers.

Next month, I will (finally) unveil Step 9 of Your 9-Step Marketing Plan. Until then, my passion is your phenomenal success!

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