Step 3: Pumping some iron. Creating an online presence.

“The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” – Bill Gates

Does your organization have a website? More importantly does your business have an effective website? What about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and all the other social media programs du jour?

Your online presence is your opportunity to make a good first impression. If you are in the business to business world, one study found that 94% of business buyers do some form of online search before contacting a business.* When it comes to individual consumers – they visit 10.4 online sources before making a purchase!*

While an online presence is important for securing a good first impression, it also plays a fundamental role in supporting your entire marketing program. An online presence provides your potential customer the ability to find out more about your product and services. Make it easy for your prospects to find out who you are and what you can do for them.

Whether you hand a potential customer a business card or conduct a billboard campaign in your market, it is vital to include information on how that potential customer can find out more.

In many instances, if your business cannot be found from a simple Google search; you simply do not exist. You can’t compete if you don’t show up for the game. Make sure your online strategy allows you to compete.

Did Steve have an online presence? Not really. Steve’s 15 year-old nephew, Roy, built Steve’s website for a high-school project. Roy is now 20 and is studying to be a doctor. The website has not been updated for 5 years. Steve doesn’t really care for computers and hasn’t visited his website since Roy showed it to him 5 years ago. Furthermore, Steve’s Auto Repair cannot be found on a Google search, but Steve’s competitors show up consistently. When Steve’s potential customers finally do stumble across his website, they are not impressed. Steve does not get a chance to make a second impression with these potential clients.

What’s the best online strategy for your business? Unfortunately, that is not a one-size fits all answer. Here are some basics:

  1. Get a website. Unless you are a seasoned pro at website design, hire a professional. Hiring a pro to build your website doesn’t have to be expensive. Get a few quotes from different companies. Keep in mind – the cheapest quote isn’t necessarily the lowest quality – and the highest quote isn’t necessarily the best quality.
  2. SEO (Search Engine Optimization). When someone searches for your business on Google or any other search engine, your name should appear on the first page of results. Ideally it will be #1 on the search results. This is the other key element to a website. It’s one thing to have a website, but if no one can find your website – what is the point? The company that builds your website should know a lot about SEO. If they don’t, find another company to build your website.
  3. Social Media. Whether you love it or hate it, you need to do it. Don’t know much about Social Media? There are many companies that will manage your social media for you. Many of these companies just charge a small monthly fee.

There is a lot more that can be said on this topic. This guidebook is meant to give you the fundamentals. If you just implement the 3 steps above, you will already be head and shoulders above your competition.

* http://www.brafton.com/news/94-percent-b2b-buyers-research-online-purchase-decisions/

 

 

 

 


Source: Muscle

Step 2: The warm up. How do you brand your business?

“Start unknown. Finish unforgettable.” – Nike

Now that the foundation is set with your marketing plan, the next step is to create a brand image for your business. A brand image is what sets you apart from your competition. It is how people will recognize you and your company from here on out. You may have started out unknown, but the work you will put into building your brand image will help you become unforgettable.

The cornerstone for your brand identity is your logo. Do you have one? If you do have a logo, do you use that same logo consistently? Do you have certain colors and fonts that coincide with this logo, do you use those colors consistently?

Just like a workout plan – consistency matters. You wouldn’t expect to drop 50 LBS by following a workout plan haphazardly would you? A solid workout plan is only as good as how you use it. The same principle applies with your logo.

Let’s look at some classic branding examples. Do you recognize any of these companies?

logos

Of course you recognized these brands very quickly. McDonald’s, Coca Cola, and Apple have branded themselves so well, that even just a silhouette of a Coca-Cola bottle triggers recognition of the brand. Nowhere in these advertisements did the name “McDonald’s” or “Apple” need to appear.

While it might be unlikely that any of us will create the next household brand name like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s, we can certainly learn from their branding model. Why reinvent the wheel? Take advantage of what these multi-billion dollar companies have already figured out! (Ironically – Coca Cola and McDonald’s won’t help you build muscle).

It is completely obtainable to make your business as recognizable in your area as McDonald’s is to the general public. If you sell insurance on Main Street, USA, why not brand yourself to be so recognizable that when people need insurance they think of you instead of the dozens of other agents? Do you own a clothing boutique? A boutique is a prime place to brand yourself all over the place. From the storefront sign to the tags on the clothes and the bag the customer carries the clothes home in, you have the opportunity to reinforce your brand over and over again.

They key is being consistent with your brand image, i.e. your logo. Remember Steve, with Steve’s Auto Repair?

Steve had his business cards and his sign made right when he opened his shop. He had the print shop draw up a simple design for his cards and he had the sign company do the same. The result? Two very different logos on two prime pieces of marketing. But Steve likes fixing cars. He wasn’t too concerned with the inconsistency of his logo. Both looked good, they just didn’t look the same. As time went on Steve had brochures made. These brochures were made from a different printer. Steve told the designer to design as they saw fit. After all, Steve wasn’t a marketing expert. Steve’s brochures turned out beautifully. Except he now had a third logo that looked nothing like his other logos. One year Steve decided direct mail would be a good way to reach people. He used the same logo that was on his business card this time. A few months later Steve put up a billboard. This time, the logo of choice was the same logo of his sign.

Do you see the inconsistency? This is common. Many businesses struggle to find synergy with a brand image. Unfortunately Steve missed out on an opportunity to really brand his shop. Steve could have saved money and gained new customers by utilizing a graphic design team to develop one logo that would represent him best and used on all of his marketing materials.

If you don’t have a set logo, or you don’t like your current logo now’s the time to make the change, but keep it consistent. I strongly recommend outsourcing your logo creation to an advertising company or a graphic designer. The little bit of money that it costs to do this, will save you more in time, effort and your sanity!

Now that you have developed a logo, you can create the rest of your branding material. These items below are key to developing a consistent brand image, and all of these components should be included in your marketing budget.

  • Business cards
  • Brochures and hand-outs
  • Signage
  • Promotional items, such as pens, post-its, etc.

The warm up is now over…get ready to start flexing those marketing muscles!


Source: Muscle

Get Marketing Muscle Step 1: Goal Assessment

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” – Muhammad Ali

Step 1: Goal Assessment

This is the foundation to gain the marketing muscle you are striving for. It is all about goal setting, planning, and setting your mission. Do not attempt to market your business without going through this step. Skipping this step is equivalent to jumping into a gym after being missing in action for an entire decade – Injury, regret, and wasted time and money is the only possible outcome.

You are probably anxious to get started with your marketing. If you just started your business, I bet swarms of advertising representatives have already contacted you to tell you how great their program is. Maybe it is, but not now. RESIST THE TEMPTATION! It is easy to get trapped into an advertising hole without a set marketing plan. Don’t fall prey to the “Spray and Pray” marketing program. If you do you will end up using advertising programs that seem most convenient and pray that they work.

Here’s a simple 3-step warm up for your marketing muscles:

1. Plan: Create the marketing plan.

Creating your marketing plan sounds more daunting than it really is. Let’s start with the basics. Think about your business, and write down the answers to these questions.

Who are my potential customers?

Where are these customers?

Who is my competition?

Where is this competition?

What product or service do I need to focus on to gain more customers?

When is the best time to talk to my desired target audience?

How do I reach my target audience?

2. Relevant Message: Speak to your potential customers.

Real world example:

Several years ago I worked in the advertising sales department for a newspaper in South Carolina. One day I came across an ad for a national company in a competing newspaper. My mind started racing with ideas on how to get this company to advertise with me. I then became curious to see if this company was advertising in more newspapers across the country. Which brings me to my mom. She lives in Ohio and reads my hometown newspaper daily. I asked her one-day if she happened to see an advertisement for a business I was prospecting. My mom’s response, “I don’t read the ads in the newspaper!” I told her that while she did not intentionally look for the ads, she did see the ads. As you can imagine we went back and forth on this point and finally agreed to disagree.

 A few months later as I was home for Thanksgiving, I walked into the kitchen and saw my mom reading the newspaper. She looked up at me, pointed to an ad in the newspaper and invited me to a Black Friday sale at a shoe store. I smiled, and asked her how she found out about this sale. She proclaimed, “Here’s the ad in the newspaper!” And that is when I won that argument.

 My point in this story is that store clearly spoke the language of their customers that day. Does the average person wake up in the morning with bated breath anxious to see what business is advertising in the newspaper, radio, TV, or billboards…of course not. The average person isn’t consciously aware of an advertising message unless it is something that they want or need in that moment. My mom was looking for shoes that day. The fact that this store had a sale on the particular type of shoe she was hunting made the shoe store’s ad relevant. Because the shoe stores ad was relevant we went to that store that day and we both purchased shoes because of that ad.

Learn who your customers are and present a relevant message that speaks their language. 9 times out of 10, if an advertising campaign isn’t working it’s BECAUSE of the message!

3. Budget!

What about your marketing budget? Naturally, this needs to be established. Just like keeping a food diary will help you get the body of your dreams, establishing and sticking to a marketing budget will help keep you focused and on track. As you will learn in the next steps, there is more to marketing than the traditional ideas of marketing that you might have. Even the “small” items like $50 donations to the local little league team are considered marketing. Account for those small items.

Next step…The Warm Up. How to brand your business!


Source: Muscle

Meet small business owner, Steve.

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Meet Steve. He loves working on cars. It is his true passion. That’s why he started Steve’s Auto Repair five years ago. Steve started out small and built up a loyal following of clients over the years. He prides himself in the service and value that he offers his clients. Steve’s business is running pretty well, but the fourth quarter of the year his business consistently drops due to the holiday season. It’s becoming a big problem and something needs to change. Advertising is on his to-do list, but the thought of putting together a plan and then forking over the money for the advertising campaign sounds about as pleasurable as doing his taxes.

 The month of October rolls around and Steve realizes that he really needs to do something to help bring in customers during his upcoming slow season. He keeps saying he will start advertising soon, but just doesn’t have the time to follow through. Coincidentally, the local newspaper advertising rep walks into his shop and talks to Steve about a new advertising program that the paper has to offer. Normally Steve wouldn’t entertain this offer, but since he does need to advertise he listens to her pitch and decides to give it a shot for one-month to “try it out”.

His month of advertising in the newspaper runs its course and Steve realizes that he got nothing out of the campaign. No one even mentioned they saw the ads. He begrudgingly writes the check to the newspaper to pay for his campaign, and proclaims “Newspaper advertising does not work for me!”

Fast forward to the first of December. Steve’s shop is slower than ever. Most people are spending their disposable income on Christmas gifts, not auto repair. He bumps into a radio ad rep at a chamber of commerce holiday event who proceeds to tell Steve about this year end special rate for radio advertising, and offers Steve an amazing deal to advertise. Steve thinks it over a couple days. He doesn’t want to waste money on advertising again, but business is slow. He needs momentum, just a few new clients! Maybe the radio will work. Steve calls up the radio rep and tells him he will try it out for 30-days hoping for results.

30-days go by. In those 30-days, Steve’s aunt and second cousin were the only ones to mention that they heard the radio ads. Frustrated, Steve once again proclaims “Radio does not work!”

Steve was not happy about spending $2,000 on advertising over the winter that gave him zero return on his investment. Thankfully, it is March and Steve’s business starts to pick up, because it always picks up in March. Steve hopes that next winter will be different.

But it wasn’t. Steve repeated the same cycle the following year. Another $2,000 down the drain.

Like most entrepreneurs, Steve started his business because he has a passion for what he does. If it were up to him, his days would be dedicated to fixing cars. But let’s face it – that is not reality. As a small business owner, you are tasked to wear multiple hats throughout the day – some more enjoyable than others. You might start your day as the bookkeeper, close an important sale over lunch, and by close of business you are the head of HR dealing with a disgruntled employee. You are busy.

When it comes to marketing, you know you have to do it. Who has the time to do marketing though? There are bigger fires to put out throughout the day, right? The problem is not that marketing takes up too much time, the problem is that marketing has the perception of taking up too much time because marketing seems overwhelming. Think for a minute: How many advertising representatives have contacted you in the last year claiming that they have the “best advertising program” in your area? I’m willing to guess that it has been at least a handful of them. Maybe you tried a few of their programs. Did you get results? If you are reading this post, chances are that your advertising expenditure did not garner the results that were promised.

Full disclosure: I’m not picking on advertising representatives – mainly because I am one of those advertising “vulchers”, I mean representatives.

Maybe you just started your own business? Perhaps you have owned your business for many years, but are searching for some fresh ideas to help promote your business? Whatever brought you here, I am glad you found this blog. I chose the phrase “get marketing muscle” very intentionally. Getting the marketing side of your business strong is similar to getting your body ripped. There are no short cuts – but the formula is a simple 5-step program. Luckily for all you foodies out there (myself included)…Throughout this guide we are talking about marketing muscle, not true muscle on your body – so, feel free to eat/workout as you chooseJ Stay tuned for Step 1 in the marketing process — Goal Assesment.

 

 


Source: Muscle