The Cornerstone of Small Business Marketing Success

As a marketing coach and consultant to small businesses, I spend much of my time talking to owners and speaking about the importance of marketing and communications, and the tremendous value these functions deliver when orchestrated strategically and systematically.

As part of these discussions, I often ask if a dedicated marketing plan has been crafted and is in place for their business. The responses I get are both surprising and confusing to me. Not only is the answer to this question usually “no,” but many business owners have no idea what a marketing plan should look like or contain, or worse yet, where to begin.

If you’re a small business owner and you’re reading this, ask yourself the following question (be honest), “Do have a marketing plan that you look to as the anchor for all your marketing activities?”

If not, I want you to realize that NOW is the time to start planning for the end of the recession. I still find so many small businesses content to just maneuver through 2010. For those who want more than just to “get by”, this is an excellent time to craft a 12-to 24-month get-out-front-of-competitors marketing strategy and developing a marketing plan is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your business will make a profit in the post-recession competitive landscape that is on our doorstep.

I truly believe that a strategic, well-crafted marketing plan can provide the focus and systematic approach that small businesses need in this new environment. And, because I believe so strongly in the benefit of a marketing plan for small businesses, I’ve officially designated the month of September as “How to Craft a Small Business Marketing Plan” month.

What does that exactly mean? I’m not 100% sure as of yet.

But, I can tell you that I want to help. So over the next 30 days I’ll be providing additional blog posts, online seminars and information to help small businesses tackle this critical marketing element. Are you with me??

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Modern Marketing is Here. Where Are You?

I came across this short (only 1 min 46 secs) new HubSpot video this morning and was curious to know your thoughts.

Here is some background on the video from HubSpot

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In an effort to highlight the contrast between old outbound marketing approaches and new inbound marketing techniques, HubSpot has put together this fact-based video, which pieces together a variety of statistics that illustrate the key differences between the two types of marketing. Most importantly, the video stresses the idea that outbound strategies become increasingly ineffective in the world of digital technologies and enhanced communication channels.

We drew the featured stats from a range of reputable sources, including the 2008 Cone Business in Social Media Study and HubSpot’s own inbound marketing reports.

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Watch the video now and we’ll talk on the other side.

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Those of you who know me, know that I believe deeply in the concept of Inbound Marketing and that I’m a BIG fan of HubSpot. But… I do take issue with the broad brush the video uses to paint traditional, outbound marketing tactics. I do believe outbound marketing, if used as part of an overall marketing strategy, can still be an effective component of a small business marketing mix.

The problem, as I see it, is that most small businesses skip the step where they develop strategy and go straight to promotional tactics (i.e. brochures, websites, social media, etc). As a result, business owners often fall prey to an unsystematic tactical “marketing idea of the week” mindset. Promotion is NOT marketing! If your marketing message is generic and there is no focus to who you’re targeting or what you’re saying, nothing you do is going to be effective in generating leads and closing sales.

By strategy I mean a business’s marketing reason for being (and I don’t mean to exchange money for something). Far too many businesses think “we want to sell lots of stuff to lots of people” is a strategy. Strategy starts with defining and dominating a narrow market niche and becoming famous for doing one thing better than anyone else. What do you want your market to know about you, what do you want them to believe, what do want them to feel, experience and think when they consider what you are about – that’s what comes from strategy.

Small Business Marketing Takeaway
Create a marketing strategy for your business and then focus every tactic (inbound and outbound) into making that strategy real. I guarantee that if you take the time to put strategy before tactics, marketing your business will become a whole lot easier and your marketing efforts will be much more successful.

Let’s Talk – Social Media for Small Business

When used properly, social media can be a great tool to help your business reach untapped, potential customers and stay connected to current ones. But there are a few things you’ll need to know to help you get the most out of social media as well as your online presence in its entirety. Microsoft Office Live Small Business sponsored the creation of this eBook, authored by Duct Tape Marketing founder John Jantsch, in an effort to help break social media down into easy-to-understand pieces, so you can make sense of and make use of this powerful resource in a way that grows your business.

Let’s talk. Click here to download the ebook.

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The Catalyst Program

The Catalyst Program is ideal for companies or entrepreneurs looking for an overall system to generate more leads into their business. We’ll develop touch points products, services and processes that logically move prospects from awareness to raving fan.

Upon completion you will have developed the research and strategy necessary to easily complete and document your company’s marketing action plan.

Typically, companies seeking this solution are looking to do one of the following:

  • [icon type=”angle-double-right” class=”fa-li accent”]Increase the number and quality of leads in their pipeline
  • [icon type=”angle-double-right” class=”fa-li accent”]Increase market share
  • [icon type=”angle-double-right” class=”fa-li accent”]Strengthen brand elements of their business
  • [icon type=”angle-double-right” class=”fa-li accent”]Enter a new market
  • [icon type=”angle-double-right” class=”fa-li accent”]Introduce a new product to an existing market
  • [icon type=”angle-double-right” class=”fa-li accent”]Introduce a new product to a new market

Program Details
The Catalyst consists of a series of 15-20 meetings, 90 minutes in length, and consists of the following components:

  • [icon type=”angle-double-right” class=”fa-li accent”]Overview of your existing marketing system
  • [icon type=”angle-double-right” class=”fa-li accent”]Identify your Ideal Client
  • [icon type=”angle-double-right” class=”fa-li accent”]Create your unique point of differentiation and core message
  • [icon type=”angle-double-right” class=”fa-li accent”]Review of your overall brand image
  • [icon type=”angle-double-right” class=”fa-li accent”]Create marketing materials that educate and move prospects logically through the marketing hourglass
  • [icon type=”angle-double-right” class=”fa-li accent”]Create your lead generation trio
  • [icon type=”angle-double-right” class=”fa-li accent”]Create your online marketing ad communication strategy
  • [icon type=”angle-double-right” class=”fa-li accent”]Plot out your ongoing marketing action plan
Format Description Pricing
Self-paced / DIY Simply purchase the binder or electronic version of Catalyst. Binder version: $599
Electronic version: $499
Distance Coaching Delivered online via phone and webinar software in either group or 1-on-1. Sessions are 90 minutes. Group: $299-$499 per person per month, 2 sessions per month for 6 months
1-on-1: $1,500-$2,000 per month, 2 sessions per month for 8-10 months
Group Coaching LIVE Delivered in boardroom or classroom. Sessions are 90 minutes. Group: $299-$499 per person per month, 2 sessions per month for 6 months
1-on-1 Coaching LIVE Delivered in office or conference room. Sessions are 90 minutes. 1-on-1: $1,500-$2,000 per month, 2 sessions per month for 8-10 months

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Referral Engine Pro

You know you need to generate referrals and you even know how, but you just don’t – something always gets in the way of you taking the time to develop a referral marketing system.

The Referral Engine Pro program is ideal for small business owners, independent professionals and salespeople looking to enhance their word-of-mouth and referral marketing. This program appeals especially to service-based companies that rely heavily on referrals. get the kick in the pants you need to actually get your referral marketing system on track.

Typically, companies seeking this solution are looking to do one of the following:

  • [icon type=”angle-double-right” class=”fa-li accent”]Create a step-by-step, documented referral marketing system based on your very specific target market
  • [icon type=”angle-double-right” class=”fa-li accent”]Develop referral marketing tools, letters, and offers that will help you generate a flood of new business
  • [icon type=”angle-double-right” class=”fa-li accent”]Devise a precise strategy for making referral marketing your core marketing weapon
  • [icon type=”angle-double-right” class=”fa-li accent”]Develop a referral reward system to keep referral sources motivated and your business top of mind

Program Details

Referral Engine Pro is delivered in and with a series of online how-to videos and instructions to build a strong referral system. In total, there are four weekley sessions – released to you one week at a time. I will meet with you four times to hold you accountable and help you connect the concepts in the course to your own referral system. Each meeting will be approximately 60 minutes in length and held a week apart.

Format Description Pricing
Self-paced / DIY Simply purchase the program and go through it on your own. Electronic version: $199
Distance Coaching Delivered online via phone and webinar software in either group or 1-on-1. Sessions are 60 minutes. Group: $499/person
1-on-1: $999/person
Group Coaching LIVE Delivered in boardroom or classroom. Sessions are 60 minutes. Group: $499/person
1-on-1 Coaching LIVE Delivered in office or conference room. Sessions are 60 minutes. 1-on-1: $999/person

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