It might as well be a four-letter word or a foreign language.
Even El Paso web design and marketing agencies sometimes get this wrong.
An established medical clinic in town hired a local digital marketing agency (by the way, it wasn’t 8 Signal) to manage their social media and content.
The marketing agency was incredibly consistent in the services they provided.
In fact, very few marketing agencies in El Paso are anywhere near as consistent as this firm was with the clinic. The problem wasn’t the consistency, far from it.
The problem we noticed was the same one we see in many companies.
The problem with most marketing is this:
Delivering the wrong message through the wrong media to the wrong market.
You’re a 55-year-old female and for the first time in your life you start experiencing hot flashes.
Would you ever, in your right mind, hit ‘like’ on a Facebook post with the generic picture of a healthcare worker holding a clipboard and the post that read:
“Are you in that stage of life where you’re starting to experience hot flashes? Call 915-227-4667 to schedule an appointment.”
Okay maybe you won’t do that, but would you tag a friend in the comment section who you know is experiencing hot flashes? Would this be your way of letting her know “these guys can really help you.”
Of course not!
The only reason you would do it would be as a joke, right? There are some things that most people just don’t want to talk about on social media.
So if you’re advertising a gynecology clinic, you either
- Have no business marketing on Facebook, or
- You need an extremely creative marketing strategy.
Otherwise, your market will be embarrassed to like your Facebook page or leave comments.
For this medical clinic, social media just didn’t make sense. It was the wrong marketing tool for building their business, improving SEO, and generating business.
The sad part is, so many businesses and marketing firms are making this mistake.
Rather than starting out with a well-researched strategy, they’re just trying whatever’s trending in marketing at that moment… regardless of whether it makes sense for their particular ideal client or target audience.
I’m not saying your business shouldn’t have a Facebook page, but if you’re going to pick any marketing tool there needs to be some thought and planning behind it.
Otherwise, it’s like a dentist closing his eyes and sticking his hand in a drawer of tools, hoping he comes out with the right one! That kind of strategy can end up doing more harm than good.
It’s no wonder one of my first mentors in the world of marketing said:
“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”
Marketing is the lifeblood of your business
Don’t poison your bloodstream with a bad marketing plan or even worse, no marketing plan!
Poorly planned marketing, even referral-based marketing, will never grow your business to its full potential.
In the worst cases, you’ll struggle to make ends meet and might not be open for business by this time next year. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
One of the most important systems in your business is your marketing system.
Yet I see so many local businesses that don’t have a marketing budget, let alone a marketing plan, to promote their business. Some businesses expect that the typical El Paso web design firm will provide a comprehensive plan for them.
In reality, most local web design agencies have a limited understanding of marketing, especially for small businesses.
Still not convinced about the importance of proper planning?
Here are 6 reasons why you need to have a marketing plan.
1. You control the conversation, not an advertising agency or an ad sales rep
Your business is completely unique. No one understands your business like you do.
Like in the example above, your business may or may not need to be on Facebook, or in the Yellow Pages, in the El Paso Times, or on a Billboard.
If you’re like most business owners, you are most likely to think about marketing when:
- A new competitor arrives on the scene
- Your business is experiencing a downward sales spiral
- Sales are stagnant
- An advertising sales rep is trying to sell you advertising in [fill in the blank with any El Paso or Las Cruces publication]
It’s easy to become a sucker for every advertising sales rep that walk in with a really good sales pitch. When I worked for a small business in Las Cruces, we received at least five calls each month from ad sales reps enticing us to advertise in their latest publication or special promotion.
Even with a strong background in sales and marketing, it was challenging to wade through all the offers and find the one that would actually benefit our business.
What normally ends up happening for many business owners and marketing coordinators is that you latch on to every advertising opportunity that comes your way because you know advertising is important.
Without a clear road map, you’re throwing money away on advertising media that will not generate leads, or it will bring in the wrong kinds of leads.
A clear advertising plan gives you a criteria by which to judge every option that comes your way.
It makes it easy to say, “Sorry [insert ad sales rep], that sounds like a great publication. But, we have a clear plan and that just doesn’t fit our criteria.” Or better yet, it will help you see when the perfect opportunity for advertising falls into your lap!
2. Gain an unfair advantage over your competition
You will become king while your competition stumbles blindly without a marketing plan.
It’s surprising how many small business owners I meet in El Paso who don’t have a marketing plan or even a general concept of how they plan to promote their business.
There’s a number of reasons for this.
- You and your staff are already overworked and juggling a million other things
- There’s no one on your team with any marketing expertise
- The budget is tight, and you haven’t set aside any money for marketing because you haven’t yet realized how vital marketing is for your business
I’m willing to bet that if we polled 10 of your closest competitors in town, not one of them will have a well-thought-out marketing plan.
With a clear and actionable marketing plan, it won’t take long for you to dominate your market segment in El Paso.
Just imagine how quickly you’ll turn the tides in your favor, and outgrow your competition.
3. Stop wasting money – define your marketing budget and decide exactly where each dollar goes
I don’t know about you, but I find that when I keep a budget, set a schedule, or follow a plan, it’s a lot easier to stay on track and get results. Without a plan I get distracted and derailed.
In addition to eliminating the pressure of ad sale reps, a marketing plan defines your marketing budget and tells you exactly where each dollar will go.
Running a business is full surprises. Having a clear marketing plan helps you minimize some of those surprises. You can say goodbye to unexpected marketing costs that just take away from your bottom line.
4. A plan creates measurable goals that will empower you to track your results
John Wanamaker was a business owner who lived from 1838 to 1922. He’s considered a proponent of advertising and a pioneer in marketing.
He’s been quoted as saying:
“Half the money I spend
on advertising is wasted;
the trouble is
I don’t know which half”
That was in the late 1800s. We’re now in the 21st-century and yet we are still living as if it were still 1875.
The truth is, you can make your marketing dollars be more accountable.
Big national chains have the resources to use sloppy, wasteful “mass marketing” that focuses solely on brand awareness without really knowing how many sales can be attributed to their marketing efforts.
Small businesses that try to copy the national chains could get slaughtered by this technique. It doesn’t help you consistently attract your ideal, ready to buy, high value clients.
For a small business in El Paso to copy what the big national companies are doing is suicide. Plain and simple.
Brand awareness does have its place. But in small business marketing it’s always subservient to getting results and increasing sales.
Do you have a reliable marketing plan and system in place? If not, just knowing that means you’ve taken the first step to remedy your situation.
So start tracking the results of your marketing plan.
For every dollar you spend on advertising, how much was generated in new business. With the proper response mechanisms in your ads, you can get a good idea if your ad is working or not.
5. Your team will have something they can support and be a part of
It’s vital that you include all your staff in understanding your marketing plan. You don’t need to give them every single detail; and I wouldn’t recommend giving them a copy of your entire plan. However, you should share your overall goals and objectives.
It’s essential that your team be aware of upcoming sales and promotions.
Get them involved:
- Feature one of your employees on your website and social media pages. This honors and recognizes your staff, building loyalty with your team. It also shows the human side of your company. Don’t be afraid to show off your sushi chefs and have them talk about their favorite rolls!
- They are more likely to share information about your company in their social media circles and invite their friends and family to experience your company
- Your staff can be a great source of information about your ideal market if they interact with your clients on a regular basis. Get feedback from your staff: What do your clients like, what do they hate, what do they most appreciate about your services, and ultimately, find out why they chose you over your competition.
Eventually, your staff will become evangelists for your services and will because a marketing force for your business.
6. A marketing plan gives a much better understanding of your ideal client
How well do you know your ideal client? Have you ever thought about that? If you haven’t, the best place to start is understanding three things about your ideal client:
This one is pretty cut and dry. Where are they likely to live. For most of our clients, the geography will be the El Paso/Las Cruces region, or even certain areas of town, or even neighborhoods.
Which segments or subgroups of the overall population are more likely to be your best clients? The five basic types of demographics in marketing are age, gender, income level, race and ethnicity.
You can take this a bit further and identify other traits, such as profession, household size, or traits about their business such as yearly revenues or number of employees.
A well defined strategic demographic of your customers and prospects is half the battle in new client conversion.
HubSpot has a great article on psychographics you should consider. They explain that psychographics show you why your target market acts or behaves in certain ways.
Psychographic information includes data about their preferred activities, interests, opinions, hobbies, spending habits, values, and attitudes.
Defining your ideal client means you might exclude some people from your marketing efforts.
Defining your ideal client helps you focus your marketing dollar where it will have the largest impact.
This is where the rubber meets the road.
You’re finally ready to develop
a marketing plan for your business
We’ve now covered the most important reasons why your business should have a detailed marketing plan as one of your key operating systems.
There are several building blocks to creating a marketing plan and they all start with, you guessed it, clearly identifying your ideal target market. HubSpot’s example shows us a good example of a well-built client persona:
Let’s create a very basic buyer persona based upon what we know about the ideal customer for a nutritional counselor. Here goes!
- Aged 45-65
- Married, with children
- Dealing with issues of weight gain, diabetes, lack of energy or hormonal imbalance
- Household income $100K+
- Concerned with health and appearance
- Wants a healthy lifestyle, but doesn’t have much time
- Enjoys going online in the evenings, big fan of Pinterest
- Tends to favor quality over economy
- Finds fulfillment in her career and family
- Values time with a small group of friends
We’ll take a look at the nuts and bolts of a marketing plan in a future blog post.
For now, I’m curious to know:
What are your greatest obstacles to creating a marketing plan for your business? We want to hear from you, Leave us a note in the comments section.
If you’re ready to create your marketing plan and don’t know where to start, or you simply don’t have the time, give us a call at (915) 585-1919 .
Find out of whether or not we’re a good fit for you.