All companies need a marketing strategy. Whether your company is a small business with a limited budget, or a larger organization with a reputation in the marketplace, a strategy to market to your potential customers is critical. Your strategic marketing plan should effectively communicate the strengths of the company. Your audience needs information on why they should buy from you. Here are some of the steps every good marketing executive should take to develop a marketing plan that will bring in new customers.
Take the time to do the research. In order to market effectively, a good plan depends on a comprehensive understanding of the business environment. Here are four critical first steps to understanding the current economics.
1. Spend time in the trenches. It’s only in really understanding your audience and your partners, and the circumstances around why they seek out your business, that you can develop relationships that are meaningful. If you “get” their need, you are more likely to market to them effectively.
2. Be “All There.” Get to know the people within your own company. Find out how they feel about their customers and partners. When a leader is really present, spending time with employees and learning more about them, the relationship is more genuine. It’s the same with marketing. If you are only promoting, clients and prospects will eventually ignore you. But participating in real, one-on-one conversations, whether online or in person, creates a reputation, a true presence.
3. Master the art of conversation and storytelling. We live in a world where people are inundated with information. You can’t just talk about services and specifications. Instead, you have to become your own audience and tell stories. Customers like to see themselves in the story. If you’ve taken the time to listen to prospects and clients, you will be able to tell a story that they understand. A little narrative, stories about what works, what doesn’t work, help to get your point across. If the content you write is not personal, you will lose the reader quickly.
4. Showing you care. Emotion is a necessary ingredient – in leadership and marketing. If you don’t show that you care, you prevent a real, human connection from taking place. And it’s the human connection that draws your employees, customers and prospects to you. It’s the same with marketing – show that you are emotionally connected to your audience, make a connection over and over again in your communications, and your prospects are more likely to connect with you.
Competitive advantages are key. Identifying and promoting your competitive advantage is critical to your marketing and your branding. Why is your competitive advantage so important? Every business has competition. Your prospective customers have a choice. They need to know why they should bring their business to you. When there is this much competition, your prospective clients need a differentiator. And if you communicate it properly, your prospects will seek you out to work with you. One word of caution – your differentiator must be real. You can’t just say you bring better service, or your business is more knowledgeable – you have to find a differentiator that stands out.
Remember Me! Marketing seeks to remind your prospects of who you are and what your value is. If we could just get our prospects to remember us, we’d be golden. If a prospect expresses interest in your product or services, chances are they NEED you. But how long will it take them to make the decision to go forward? And when they DO make that decision, will they remember you?
Really knowing your customers – what the problem is and how you solve that problem – is the basis for branding your company. That BRAND starts with a name. If I recognize a business, I may be more loyal to that business. The brand continues with the connection the company has with its customers. Sometimes the connection is personal, but more likely it’s not. Engaging with your prospects, helping them learn about your brand through your website and social media posts is important. Branding these sites so they reflect the company, and your strategic advantage, is critical.
Your Target Audience. Most companies have more than one audience. Your marketing plan and your brand must consider your target customers. Whatever you call it – Personas, Demographics or Target Audience – knowing who your most likely customer is and how you can appeal to him or her is extremely important. Your target audience is defined by demographics, habits, interests, and a personal story. You probably have several target audiences – and each one wants to hear slightly different information from you.
Turning Prospects Into Customers. For your sales process to be successful, you must engage your prospects. (Readers may want to take a look at our article: Nurturing Your Prospects, There are a number of ways to engage – through your website, blog, social media, email, in person and on the phone. Consistent communication is key. As the prospect moves through the sales funnel, he or she either becomes more qualified or drops out. Those who want further information are the best prospects for the sales team. For more information, see our article on Sales Teams That Produce Revenue.
Successful marketing depends on consistency. If you’re connecting with your prospects, if you are really interested in finding out what they need, your marketing will result in sales. For more information on to learn how Bahar Consulting can help you develop a strategic Marketing Plan, give us a call at 240-242-3349.