First, know that it’s OK to start or restart marketing.
Marketing can be challenging. It’s one thing, if done well, that can help your business or organization grow faster. But sometimes marketing gets put at the bottom of the list, after selling, shipping, invoicing and making customers and employees happy.
Don’t give up if you haven’t executed your marketing plan.
The good news is that it’s never too late. You can write a marketing plan at any time during the year and get at least something (even one thing) done to create awareness, generate leads, and grow your business. Over the years I have seen that investing in marketing even has some intangible benefits for your business (read my blog post about that here.)
Restart (or start) your marketing by answering a few questions.
Do a quick review of what you planned before. If you don’t have a plan, ask yourself these questions.
1. Are we marketing to the right audience?
Your audience can change. Maybe one demographic is no longer the buyer of your product or service and a new generation is coming in. Many businesses have not paid attention to buyers from the millennial generation – now almost 50% of the people that are involved in B2B purchase options – read my recent post with the details here.
Or, maybe while you were busy with day to day activities, maybe your primary audience moved! This was true in California when years ago corporations started leaving the state for lower taxes and labor elsewhere (they continue to do so). One of my clients had always advertised in a state publication when the corporate exodus was happening. Switching to advertising in a nationwide publication resulted in a sale to a large corporation headquartered in another state.
2. Are there new opportunities we can leverage?
Has a new technology emerged that allows us to get an advantage over the competition? At a software company where I was Director of Marketing, our President allowed a Customer Service Rep to develop (in his spare time) a handheld device that would allow our users to more easily enter data into our system. We launched the product and were the first to offer remote data entry in the early 1990s.
Is there a new way of reaching our target audience? I know everyone is selling social media now (I’m annoyed too, as it is not a panacea – it’s just another marketing channel!). But, social media is a place where many people spend time. My clients get results from their presence on social media, and we set things up so they don’t have to spend a lot of time on it. (Read my post here for a practical approach to social media.)
3. What do our customers need? What do studies show that they might need or want but don’t know it?
There are always new studies coming out about new buying behavior, how we think and how attitudes are changing. Studies on the different generational traits can be really helpful in understanding what messages and what marketing will work best to reach different age audiences. Creating and using buyer personas is a great way to identify and market to your target audience preferences, behaviors and attitudes (see my post about this here).
4. What is our competition up to? Any new players? Did any “old” competitors disappear?
If anything changes with your competition, you should know about it. Find out if they have discontinued any products or services, expanded or contracted their sales force or employee count, closed offices or made other changes. Look for where your competitors have created a marketing presence. Are they “everywhere” on LinkedIn and you’re not? Do they have an Instagram or YouTube presence and you don’t? (Don’t dismiss this because you’re a business to business marketer; photo sharing and videos are very popular – read my recent post here.)
5. What strengths do we have to maximize?
More and more there is strength in your story and people. People love a good story, especially if it creates an emotional connection. If your CEO (or another key executive) is either charismatic, campy or quirky, perhaps you can position them as a spokesperson or industry thought leader. If your company is a leader in your industry or region, tell your story about your history and timeline. If you have an amazing company culture, explain why and showcase your employees.
6. Are there any weaknesses holding us back?
This may be the hardest question to answer. It’s not easy to talk about the (pink?) elephant in the room. The most serious weakness but one that can be fixed is a product or service deficiency. Some businesses have kept an employee whose low performance is hurting business. In the marketing realm your brand may appear weak compared to the competition or you may not be creating awareness in the right places.
Write or re-write your marketing plan
Based on what you learn by answering the above questions, create or update your marketing plan in a shareable document. Include your strategies and tactics as well as a timeline for getting everything done. Learn how to do this and download a free Excel spreadsheet for your tactical timeline here.
Now take some kind of action to execute the plan!
Even if you do just one thing, I guarantee you will see results. Whether you increase your pre- and post- trade show marketing (read how here), improve your LinkedIn presence (see details here), create a better or new email campaign (read how-to posts here), update your website so it’s responsive and performs better in search results, or improve or add blogging (I’ve published many posts on this – read the most popular here), your efforts will pay off.
If you need help in creating your marketing plan or executing some or all of your marketing, contact New Incite today. We’d love to make sure the rest of your year includes marketing success and more business growth!
Photo by Sharon Mollerus on Flickr. Some Rights Reserved.