If you’re struggling to come up with a marketing plan, let me give you a piece of advice….. Do something. Anything. Try it, measure it, keep doing it if it is working and kill it if it isn’t. If you kill it, then do something else. Try that, measure that, keep doing that if that is working and if it isn’t, kill that too. Then try something else, measure it, keep doing thing #3 if that works and if it doesn’t, kill it…. Are you seeing a pattern here? It’s the lather, rinse, and repeat method. All successful marketing companies follow a similar pattern.
When it comes to “Do’s and Don’ts of Marketing”, the biggest marketing “Do” is to do something, just get in the marketing game. Chances of you hitting a homerun with your first marketing try is slim. But you’re not alone. Marketers use this trial and error method get the right marketing plan in place all of the time. We call it “beta testing”, “A/B testing” “test marketing”, or some other catchy phrase. The key is to try, fail fast then refine your plan and move to the next tactic. For small to medium size businesses this can be intimidating and a bit risky to spend dollars without a guarantee. If you’re worried about the expense of trying something new without any experience in marketing, hire someone that has experience. That cost could save you money in the long-run. Think of it has hiring a marketing Sherpa to guide you… there could be challenges along the way but your chances of success are greatly increased.
If you go the DIY route of marketing, increase your chances of success by doing a little research first. Look back over the past year and look for patterns and trends where you had momentum, decide if these hold true or if you see new opportunities. Then look forward to the next 12 months and estimate where your growth areas are (seasonally, demographically, geographically, etc.). Look at other businesses that you know or believe to have similar business model and are successful to imitate some of their methods. For example, if you own a fence & deck company and there is a successful window company in your market, you will have similar trends and similar customers. Do what they do. If you’re a dentist and you have a group of successful ophthalmologists near you, similar customer/patient base, do what they do. You can learn from their marketing and adopt some of their tactics as a guide. Will it be spot on, 100% effective? Maybe. If not, it will at least be a good foundation to learn from and then try something slightly different. The goal is to get your message, brand or company name to a large group of potential customers efficiently with the highest chances of ROI. Last but not least, once you find the right marketing plan be consistent with it. A decent plan, with the right message, delivered to its target customer consistently, is usually the right formula for success.
The biggest “Don’t” in marketing is don’t do nothing (…yes, that was a double negative to get you to do something). If you have a product or service that has a customer base and a market full of prospects, you have to let people know about it. If you don’t, your business will eventually die. Or an alternative is that it may never get off the ground. Very few, I mean a very extremely small percentage of businesses have become successful without any marketing. And once they did, guess what? They started marketing themselves so that they could become even more successful. (see Amazon, Google, Ford, etc.). A business doesn’t survive or grow on word of mouth or zero marketing efforts. You have to do something.
For those of you reading this and thought “no sh*t” or “of course, this is obvious”, thanks for continuing to read this far. But there are large percentage of businesses that miss this point and with a little effort can be so much more successful in their efforts.
For those of you that have “tried” marketing but had a bad experience so you stopped, you need to get back in the game. Very few get it right the first time so be patient and resilient. Take what you learned from first attempt(s), review your research to see what has changed, and adjust your message to a clear, strong call to action. The most common first mistake (outside of having a bad idea, like Quibi, Burger King’s black bun or New Coke) is having the wrong message or a weak call to action. Or it could have been the wrong tactic or set of tactics that missed your target customers. Adjusting these things will improve your odds compared to a past bad experience. Again, you can learn something from a failed campaign to make the next one more productive.
If all of this seems overwhelming, again, hire someone. It can be an in-house marketing person or an outsourced firm. There are benefits to both but just do something to get started. Doing nothing usually gets you nothing in return.
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