The 2 Keys Every Business Owner Needs to Know
In my little more than 25 years of experience as a professional engineer (in numerous roles as an entrepreneur, corporate executive, sales & marketing strategist etc.) I constantly see one common element that always determines the success and longevity of a business—a solid working marketing plan. Now I realize that “marketing” is much more comprehensive that what I’m going to cover in this article (such as branding, product, etc.) but for the purposes of this writing I’m going to stay focused on a simple actionable plan.
So, that being said, the purpose of this article is to give business owners, entrepreneurs and CEOs alike, an overarching viewpoint for that solid marketing plan. The overall goal of a marketing plan is to fill your sales funnel so that your sales process can convert leads into sales.
To keep the plan simple, there are two key elements:
- Components – technology and tactics
- Phases – of deployment
The technology and tactics that can be used for marketing are numerous and constantly changing/evolving. Therefore, budgets and time-frames will play an important role in determining which elements make the best sense. These need to be carefully aligned with the business’s current situation and future goals. The following is the starter list for the key components:
1. Know Your Customer
If there is one thing every business needs, it’s knowledge of its ideal customer. What does your idea customer look like? What are their attributes and what exactly are they looking for? Do you know their questions? How about the competition? Develop a plan (usually in your business plan) for knowing your customer and any segmentation of vertical markets.
Why is this important? (notice this section is mostly questions…) Knowing your customer allows you to relate and connect with them. You can engage them using terms they know and topics they are interested in. Your customer wants to know “what’s in it for them?” and “why should they care?” You need to know the answer to these two vital questions.
Your site should utilize a modern CMS (Content Management System) so that it can easily integrate with a blog, social media and mobile platforms. The effective use of landing pages, dedicated to offers, is a must—so that your clear CTAs (Calls To Action) are easily actionable by your prospects. Many businesses fail when they treat their website as a one-time project. It is vital to keep a website current and fresh with new content on a weekly basis. An effective SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plan is essential for an effective website, this is what impacts how you are found on the web
3. Social Media
Your website should feed fresh content out to your social media channels. Social media is a very effective marketing tool if used correctly and often. Properly configured business pages, attention to specific features of the various social media tools, and responsiveness to your audience are a must!
4. Modern Tools
Using the current tactics and tools that modern technology offers, is the easiest way. So staying somewhat familiar with technology (or having someone on your team who does) is another key for an effective marketing plan. Modern tools include elements such as:
- using videos
- communicating with social media
- using inbound marketing (rather than antiquated outbound marketing)
Defining phases of deployment, as previously mentioned, are important when you consider both budget and time-frame constraints. A successful marketing plan will always be updated, kept current and evolve—as the business situation changes and technology advancements/tactics change. Phases usually means “budget-related.” What is your budget? Do you have the right resources/team? When do you need results? What metrics will you use to indicate success?
Keeping in mind that the phases should match each business’s unique needs, here is a starting point for the potential phases of deployment:
1. Business Plan
For the sake of this article, we’ll assume that you have this in place, so you know your plan, budget and goals (if you don’t, this could be trouble…).
Your website project is the first piece of the puzzle. It needs not only the correct technology (so you can easily maintain it) but a solid effort and strategy for proper design so that all the key elements are included (there is a science here—it’s not just about a pretty website…).
3. Socially Active
Get your presence on social media channels out there. Select the key channels—I recommend starting with Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
4. Content Creation
Start creating regular content. If you can’t do this yourself, ensure you have a curator on your team that will do this at lease a couple times a week. Nurturing leads requires that you offer value to prospects.
5. Sales Plan
Do you have a sales staff or is it you? Define the regular tasks that are needed to keep the funnel of prospects full.
6. Deploy Inbound Marketing
Inbound Marketing is an exciting technology that can begin the process of automating your sales funnel. It does have a cost and requires constant attention, but it’s a proven effective tool!
7. Targeted Lead Generation Projects
These are customized, specifically targeted lead generation activities (email, telemarketing, trade show, etc.). If your inbound marketing program is giving you all the qualified customers you can handle, you may not need this one…
8. Master Your System
Once “success” has been measured and achieved, now you want to master the system you’ve deployed. Whether you plan to scale your business, venture into new territories, or simply want to grow your existing business—mastering (sometimes the word “duplicate” works well here) your system will bring longevity to your business.
Having a marketing plan is vital for success and longevity of a business. If you can’t do this yourself, engage a professional or a team member who has the skills. Your business can have an effective marketing plan by knowing the key components and deploying them in phases that match your budget and goals.
Marketing your business is an on-going process, it’s not a one-shot project. However, when properly planned and executed, your success is predictable!