Over the past 25 years I have written and developed countless marketing plans. From my first plan for a college assignment in 1989, to just finishing one up today for a restaurant in Sydney, my time in the trenches has taught me that there are some key important, yet simple strategic initiatives which you must focus on to ensure your business succeeds in the current competitive market place.
Build brand awareness
Awareness should be your focus when you start out on your business journey. Without knowing your product even exists how can you even expect anyone to purchase! Building awareness is core!
So what are your options for building awareness?
You can advertise on the tv or on the radio or in magazines. And of course, these days we have many digital options including social platforms like Instagram and search engine marketing, banner advertising, blogging and PR to name but a few.
Then how are you going to make sure your product is found? Expand your distribution to key outlets – this could mean increasing the number of retailers where your product is. Of course you could also consider getting a sales person to call on your channel partners.
Increase your buying rate
You also need to consider your buying rate, selling more to your existing customers makes good business sense as you reduce the need to spend dollars on building awareness, if you focus on retaining existing clients and getting them as loyal advocates to spread the word for you too! It still amazes me how little attention small businesses pay to building retention and loyalty – this is critical even at launch phase, as it can tell you a great deal about the value of your product in the market place and help you decide if your product is a success!
If you notice repeat purchase is not where you think it should be, consider contacting your clients and customers to ask them how they are finding the product and even offer them an incentive as a early supporter of your business to encourage purchase.
Things are going well, you have a great core customer base, but now you need to get more new customers. So, we are back to building awareness, enabling access to your product, creating interest and motivation to purchase.
Increase market penetration
You can build market penetration by product testing and incentives, both of which I know are very successful and, in many cases, imperative. With any new product or service, you must encourage trial, especially if what you are selling is innovative. I worked with a pre-school a few years ago who had done all the things, radio commercials, PR, flyers and social media, but hadn’t achieved their goals for new enrolments. Once we tweaked the marketing to encourage visits to the centre with open days and an incentive to enrol after the tour, the enrolments increased dramatically. People need to engage with your product or service – they need to meet your team, see the environment. Make sure you encourage engagement with all the senses – sight, sound, touch, smell and taste!
It’s tempting to focus all your events on acquiring customers but looking after the existing ones is vital. Loyalty can be built in many different ways through special offers for your regular clients, great customer service by designing a customer experience process. For example, if you have a coffee shop which serves commuters take-away coffee and toast, it’s critical to get them their breakfast quickly – your team should work to a clearly communicated deadline from order to delivery with service standards -no burnt toast for example! This is how you encourage repeat purchasing and loyalty.
Strengthen your brand
You need to make sure that people can really relate to your brand. Are you clearly communicating the unique value of your product or service? Create content that focuses on communicating what makes your service different or unique in the market place.
Decrease product costs
A powerful way to drive profits is to reduce product costs, the first way to manage this without affecting the actual quality of your product is to reconsider your packaging; can you source a new supplier? Nice packaging adds to the overall perceived value of your brand; however, you can communicate value in other ways. Perhaps you could remove all packaging on the product itself and focus on branding exterior mailers and boxes with a logo.
You need to consciously focus on this much under-used approach. When you are working with an existing client, make sure that your process includes asking your client if they know anyone who could use this service, or if they would refer you to their colleagues.
Test new marketing tactics
Everyday it seems there are more ways to promote or market your service – augmented reality, Instagram stories, apps, snapchat filters and hyper-personalisation – it’s important to test new ways, especially if the old ones aren’t working anymore. If you are going to try new things do this in a modest and measured way until they are proven and effective.
Every business has unique challenges and unique needs, and what may work for one will not for another, use the marketing planning process to help you identify the strategy and tactics which are going to lead to business growth and drive your business forward.
And…don’t forget you need to set clear goals when you undertake any marketing initiatives. You need to be clear on what your expectations are, your resources and budget, and what you are asking your marketing to do. Set clear and realistic goals
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