Every small business owner understands the value of building relationships with customers. But many of us get lost when it comes to building relationships with potential customers. As a business owner, I’ve learned that success in marketing is all about timing. The optimal time for a business to sell a product or service to a [...]Continue Reading
Archive for “Start a Business”
Today I was interviewed for a local magazine that happened through someone reaching out to me. I did not pitch this reporter, but rather he found me and thought that I would provide an interesting twist on his topic. He went out on a leap and emailed me. This got me thinking back to yesterday [...]Continue Reading
It is common practice to set New Year’s resolutions in our personal lives, but how often do we do it for our business? As you look forward to running your small business in 2012, think about what resolutions you can make specific to your marketing plan that will give you the most buzz for your buck. [...]Continue Reading
As always, I never sugar coat my blog posts, so I am not going to start today. I promised a backstage pass to my adventure, and that is what you get all the time. Not sure if you remember, but last spring – I unplugged! That is right, I unplugged for a week with my [...]Continue Reading
2011 is almost over and planning for the next year can get lost in the business of the of the holiday season. However, the best way to get 2012 off to a great start is to put some thought into your 2012 marketing plan outlining where you want to go and how you plan to get there.
For small business owners, your marketing plan can make all of the difference in your success. As you get ready to leap into the New Year, taking the time to develop a marketing plan will help keep you on track, ensure you are spending your marketing dollars effectively, and give you the focus you need to succeed.
I asked other small businesses for their thoughts on how to build a successful small business marketing plan for 2012 and received many responses. Small businesses are taking a hard look at what worked and what did not work in 2011 so that they can focus their marketing dollars in the most profitable places. Others are looking for creative and innovative ways to expand their reach without expanding their marketing budget. To help you build the best marketing plan for your business, I pulled together the most consistent themes, sprinkled them with a bit of my own experience, and let the small businesses speak for themselves.
1. Begin at the End
In order to ensure you pick the best tactics and strategies to meet your marketing goals for 2012, you need to be clear about your goals. What do you need marketing to do for you in 2012? Are you looking to expand your market presence, bring in more customers, generate more leads, or break into a new market?
Beth Walsh from Clearpoint Agency, Inc. explained how they develop their marketing plan for the coming year.
We have several methods that we use to plan our marketing tactics, including a news release schedule and blog schedule, both of which are set-up as Excel spreadsheets. However, first, we are having a planning meeting with our staff of five where we will do a workshop on our key messages for the upcoming year. We plan our key messages based on what is true about our company culture and the services we deliver for clients and then we look for ways to differentiate from the competitors. We review competitors, look at their websites, marketing activities and press-pickup, and then we review our own in comparison.
2. Learn from Last Year
Look at your marketing plans for 2011 and compare them to actual results. Where were your marketing dollars most effective? Where were you unsuccessful in achieving the results you expected? What lessons can you learn from last year that will help increase the effectiveness of your marketing spend next year?
Catherine B. Ahles from Premier Aircraft Sales explained how experience dictates their marketing strategy.
Today, most aircraft purchasers do the bulk of their “hunting” online, rather than at their local airports. In 2012, we will be doing even more online advertising as well as creating more landing pages and other web-based tools. Incentives have become more important too. We will be offering things like free fuel for a year with purchase of a new aircraft. Also, we are still figuring out how to use Facebook to aid our customers in keeping up with new developments of interest. Our print advertising will go to bare minimum, and we will cease doing open houses and any trade shows except the very largest.
3. Stop Doing What Doesn’t Work
Understanding what worked and what didn’t is the first step, but in order to use that information effectively, you must also stop doing those things that aren’t working. For some small businesses, this can be difficult, especially when what isn’t working is one of those “marketing things” that every business is supposed to do.
Chris Tobias from School Skills shared this with me.
In 2012, we will no longer pay for advertising that does not directly drive sales. We will only pay for results. This means affiliate programs and partnering with publications to pay them based on the sales an ad produces rather than just paying for ad space. It means no more pay per click or pay for space. After spending a year and a half attempting to optimize click through conversion rates, design high quality marketing communications and locate appropriate advertising vehicles we have discovered that we are not advertising experts. We have also discovered that the risk for advertising success lies entirely with us. If we buy media space in a publication that does not produce results we lose both time and money.
4. Be Specific
It is always easier to hit the bull’s-eye on a target if you can see what the bull’s-eye looks like. Imagine you are shooting an arrow at a target that only has the giant red circle around the outside. It would be pretty hard to hit the center of the bull’s-eye without any other point of reference. Now think of that target as your 2012 marketing plan. If your marketing goal is to expand your social media presence, you only have a giant red circle to aim at. By planning out specific activities and actions as part of your marketing plan, you are effectively adding the other circles to the target that enable you to zero in on the bull’s-eye.
Leanne Hoagland-Smith from Increase Sales Coach talked me through the specific actions she included in her marketing plan for 2012.
Since 2005, I have been engaged in education based marketing with a primary component of article marketing. I plan to continue those efforts through at least 1 new article per week. Currently, I secure two new clients from inbound marketing activities each month and want that to double that in 2012. Continually updating the website is also critical as trends change keywords. Each morning I invest 1.5 hrs into marketing, the goal is to increase marketing activities by 20% as I have a new solution that will be offered in the summer of 2012. Blog posting must remain at an average of 5 per week. As I have expanded into Facebook through business pages, daily postings must be maintained on these pages as well.
5. Just do It
One of the biggest mistakes that I see businesses make when it comes to marketing is that they don’t take the time to put together a marketing plan at all. Their marketing plan consists of following the latest fad just because everyone says it’s the “thing” to do, without really taking the time to analyze if it’s the right marketing strategy for their business. So take some time now at the end of the year to put together your 2012 marketing strategy based on these tips and your experience. You’ll be rewarded with better results.
Are you in the process of writing your marketing plan for 2012? What are your tips? Share them here along with the link to your website. We always love hearing from you!
Want to get more inexpensive and practical small business marketing ideas, grab a free ebook called “Build Buzz for Your Biz, 23 Creative and Inexpensive Marketing Strategies That Will Get You Noticed” at http://23kazoos.com.
2011 is almost over and planning for the next year can get lost in the business of the of the holiday season. However, the best way to get 2012 off to a great start is to put some thought into your 2012 marketing plan outlining where you want to go and how you plan to [...]Continue Reading
Last week, I wrote about Lessening Holiday Stress, so it seems only fitting that this week I discuss the upcoming New Year. The start of the New Year is always filled with bucket lists and LONG lists of resolutions. If you think about these two lists, they are essentially polar opposites. One is a list [...]Continue Reading
December is here. Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday are all behind us. My inbox is jammed with sales and specials from Vista Print to Saks Fifth Avenue and everything in between. The Holidays and the New Year are quickly approaching. Is your blood pressure rising just reading this? The holiday season [...]Continue Reading
“Melanie, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Of course you would. But who are you? How many of these invitations do you receive? Well, LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com, is a great, social-media tool for networking, staying in touch with key contacts and more. But if you just send out random invitations, you [...]Continue Reading
Someone who works in a cubicle or a corporate office can leave his or her mess at work. Yet when your business and personal life are under the same roof, it’s more difficult to keep home office chaos to a minimum. By following a few do’s and avoiding the don’ts, you can keep your home [...]Continue Reading
Note: A couple of weeks ago I wrote about holiday marketing ideas and Liz Cies from Aweber had so many great marketing ideas I invited her to write today’s post! I think you’ll find some valuable nuggets in her article. Enjoy! Thanksgiving is over and the fun is just beginning. For many people, the day [...]Continue Reading
This week an article on CNN Money about Jack Dorsey caught my eye, and I could not help but to be fascinated with it. Jack Dorsey, Twitter Co-founder and CEO of Square, works TWO 8-hour shifts every day. Dorsey works 8 hours for Twitter and then 8 hours for Square (his latest startup in mobile [...]Continue Reading
If you are an inventor in the early stages of development (you don’t have finished samples) and you are looking to sell or license your invention to a company for ongoing royalty payments, you will more than likely need some form of prototype or design to showcase your invention to prospective companies. In reality, most [...]Continue Reading
Almost daily there are so many changes to social media and in turn how they impact startup business that it often overwhelming. I am sure that you feel it is hard to keep up. Recently, a few new changes were rolled out across the web and I noticed a couple of patterns that I believe are [...]Continue Reading
For over three decades I have been working with small businesses and startups in the creation of logos for new ventures, or the updating of existing company identities. With that expertise under my belt comes one major piece of advice to be shared with all business owners: Don’t wait until the last minute to consider [...]Continue Reading
I’ve been working from home for 20 years (not counting the Kool-Aid stands I set up, and the business I had selling rocks door-to- door when I was 8). When I started my first home-based business, technology wasn’t where it is now. I thought I was so cool when my dad gave me his old [...]Continue Reading
The holidays can be one of the busiest and most profitable selling seasons of the year for small business owners. The key to your success is marketing. Leverage the goodwill of the season by implementing your own holiday marketing campaign. Here are 9 of the “best darn” holiday marketing ideas from small business owners across [...]Continue Reading
It was a BIG week for me last week. I celebrated both the one year anniversary of my blog and my birthday. Truthfully, I was a little more excited about my blogaversary. I could stand to not have a birthday or two, but it was a lot of fun to take a look back at [...]Continue Reading
I have been on the phone since 5:00 a.m., and it’s now 11:00 a.m. I just got a major media-venue to agree to an exclusive story about my client. But, it’s been one hour since I spoke to him, and I haven’t heard back… what gives? I call him up, and he says he has not [...]Continue Reading
There is a lot of buzz about how QR codes are the latest and greatest marketing thing for small business. According to a study by Mobio Identity Systems, the number of QR code scans increased by 4549% in the US in one year. But for some small business owners, this might feel like just one more thing [...]Continue Reading
Exactly a year ago, I began my inventing odyssey. Over breakfast, I announced to my family that I was going to extract the idea that I had in my head and take it from inception to market. I sounded very confident, but in reality I knew very little about how I was going to do [...]Continue Reading