“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!
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!