Trial and Error, or a Plan?

Dealing with a lot of trial and error with a bunch of marketing efforts, some that work and some that don’t pan out so well. I’m sure there’s probably a better way to go about it. Got any suggestions?

Thoughts of the Day: A marketing plan can give you a structured approach to marketing that can significantly increase your chances for success. Figure out how to come across with core message and identity. Define where you are, and where you want to get to. Describe the unique items. Then dig deeper into the how’s and why’s of interacting with prospects and converting them to customers.

Some entrepreneurs, being eager, resourceful optimists are far too willing to jump into marketing with both feet and no plan. Others stay away from marketing altogether, finding it uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and overwhelming. Many have been highly disappointed in the past, with limited results for the money and effort expended. Few take an organized approach to marketing that forces them to think through what will lead to long term success in marketing for their businesses.

Start by answering 2 key questions:

  • How do you set your company apart from everyone else who does something similar?
  • Who might be most interested in that?

Define what makes your company special, from the insiders’ and the outsiders’ points of view. Inside is your employees, values and ethics, company mission, processes and systems, products or services, your vendors, everyone and everything you interact with to deliver. Outside is the marketplace that is looking for the kind of help your company can provide – whether they know it or not.

Address the following to refine your approach:

  • What makes you so special? Document how your company stands out.
  • Make sure there’s a wide open market with plenty of need, because you’re not going to come close to selling everyone you contact.
  • Define desired results. Report on results. Analyze how much further you have to go. Measurement is critical to any successful marketing plan.
  • Play with changes in price and scope alter prospects’ interest. Look at which offers turn into sticky prospects and customers.
  • High value road or bargain basement approach? No perfect answer here, although most folks will agree that a higher margin beats high volume.
  • Is your potential customer a beginner, expert, or somewhere in between? Highbrow, or low? Formal or informal? Make sure you understand and talk the language of your best customers.

Craft messages that reflect the tone and needs of your company and the marketplace. One of the best ways to develop messages is to ask your best customers how they would best describe what your company has done for them. Keep in mind that great customers, speaking powerfully about their experiences, can help you craft messages that other potentially great prospects can recognize. Come up with several that you can test.

Dig into where and how to connect with prospects, and what special offers will get their attention. Plan the traditional connection routes: trade shows, billboard, events, media campaign. Document how you will put the internet to work – from website and landing pages, SEO, key words and tracking, to video storytelling and advertising on various sites. Complimentary variety usually works the best.

Build a budget and break that down into a variety of options for reaching targets, keeping in mind that some tactics are costlier than others. Document a capture system that converts interest into inquiries into qualified leads into sales. Track results and compare that to the forecast you created when you started your plan, to find out what’s working and what still needs work.

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