Tag Archives: advertising

6 Steps to a Marketing Plan that Works

marketing planWhen you have a product or service that you know is great, it is tempting to think that all you have to do is tell people about it and they will buy.  A marketing plan is not simply a matter of handing out business cards, placing some ads, or sharing information on social media.

People usually don’t have a “buying plan” unless it’s for something big, like a house or a car. They make decisions to purchase based on an immediate need or want. Because people often buy on impulse, it’s important that when the time comes, your business name pops into their head.

While a marketing plan isn’t brain surgery, it’s worth taking a little time to think about your market and write it all down. Call it a blueprint for action that will bring you better results. Here are six steps to get your marketing rolling in the right direction.

1.    Who is Buying What You’re Selling?  Identify the person who is most likely to want or need your product or service.  Be as specific as possible.  What is their age group, income, gender? Yes, others outside of your target market may be interested, but you want to direct your efforts to the greatest number of actual potential buyers. There is a reason you don’t see many ads for jock straps in women’s magazines.

2.    What Makes Your Target Market Want to Buy? There is always something that causes the buyer to pull out the plastic. In my business, it is usually the realization that they are spending too much time doing back office work and not enough time growing their business or spending time with family. What set of circumstances has to happen for someone to feel they want or need what you are selling? Knowing this will help you design appealing promotions, ads, brochures, website copy, and social media posts.  Remember “Got Milk?” and “Can You Hear Me Now?” These are Step 2 in action.

3.    Consider the Buyer’s Friends and Family. Buyers do not live in a vacuum. They have friends and family who affect their buying decision in some way. Whether a purchase is a gift, clothing that will impress their peers, or signing up with a coach to improve themselves, and thus their career and family income, buyers have a reason to buy that exists outside themselves. Point out these benefits in your marketing materials.

4.    How Will You Provide Information About Your Product or Service? Obviously, getting your message out through social media is a given these days, but what other ways will you reach your target market? If you have a local market, submit an informative article about your business to your local newspaper. It will help elevate you to expert status so you can become the “go to” place for your product or service. When it comes to advertising, studies show it takes someone seeing an ad at least seven times before the information registers in his or her brain (the age-old “Rule of 7.”). When that happens, they will notice it more, and think of you when the need arises. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. How would you go about finding you?

5.    Determine the Buying Timeline.  The answer to “When will someone buy?” depends on the type of product or service you have, and your marketing plan must consider this. If you have a sandwich shop, local advertising that includes your shop hours is the logical choice. If your sandwiches are good, you will have repeat customers and word of mouth will bring more people in. If you are a business consultant, it could take months of consistent networking, article writing and social media communication to cultivate the awareness and trust you need to get clients. Knowing the buying timeline helps you estimate not only the cost of advertising, but also the hours you must spend cultivating clients.

6.    Determine Your Marketing Budget. Many new businesses operate on a shoestring. Social media marketing is great because it costs next to nothing. Still, it is important to allocate some portion of your operating budget for marketing. Business cards, brochures, websites and other collateral materials are not free, even if you do them yourself. If you have followed the first five steps, you will have a good idea of the kind of marketing you must do. With a little research, you can come up with an estimated cost.

Once your plan is in place, follow it for a few months and note the results. Remember that nothing is chiseled in stone. As you gain more knowledge of your market, adjust your marketing plan accordingly.

I wish you all the best in your marketing efforts!

Until later …


Target Your Market. Market Your Target.

Target Marketing

Photo via Wikipedia

I think it’s safe to say that most of us who are launching a new business or service usually operate on a tight budget, and need to start bringing in revenue as quickly as possible. It’s important to understand who is most likely to be a paying customer and direct our marketing efforts and dollars toward attracting that customer.

Here are some tips designed to help you market your product/service effectively.

  • Define your market segment. Will your initial focus be on your local geographic area, or on a particular type of customer? In some cases, it could be both. Obviously, a dog groomer will want to focus on dog owners who also are in their geographic area. If you’re selling the latest fantastic widget, will it appeal to the world on the Internet, or to specific people, like tourists, or senior citizens? Once you have honed in on the most specific target area and/or customer, then you can decide what approach to take in marketing.
  • Narrow your focus. Avoid the scatter-shot approach with your products or services. Keep your product line narrow and specialized. If you’re the only business in town selling “X,” everyone who wants an “X” has to come to you. The same rule applies to services. Don’t try to be all things to all people. A high-quality service or small service package will do better in the long run than a broad range of services that don’t provide the return on investment (ROI) you need to survive.
  • Define your prices. Depending on what you’re offering, a lower price can mean higher volume, but how will it affect your bottom line? On the flip side, a higher price may mean fewer customers, but a high quality product or service will keep those customers coming back and result in high quality referrals. For virtual assistants, pricing can be tricky, especially when one is competing globally with people who are willing to work for as low as $1.00 an hour. Additionally, fees for similar services vary widely across the U.S. Therefore, it’s important to understand what a fair price is, both for the customer and for the business owner who needs to keep a roof over her head.
  • Promote your business. Unless people know you’re out there, what’s the point of being in business? No longer do we have to spend a small fortune to advertise. If your business is local, networking in the community is vital. Join a service club, volunteer, find networking events in your area, attend charity dinners where you can meet new people, or, if you live in a small town, drop in at shops and introduce yourself. Follow local businesses on Facebook and comment on their pages. If your market isn’t confined to a geographic area, social media marketing is key. Get active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and all the others where people gather. Devote some time every day to interacting with people online so you can build a community of like-minded people and potential clients.

Have you found the marketing approaches that work best for you? If so, I’d love for you to share them in the comments.

Until next time …



Marketing Monday: Old Advertisements

George Washing with American FlagSince today is Presidents’ Day, (formerly celebrated as George Washington’s Birthday), I was thinking about people who owned small businesses back then, and how they advertised. Most businesses were small and local to a town, so word of mouth was, no doubt, how the word spread about what was available, who made it, and where they were located.

In larger towns and cities where there were newspapers, advertisements began to spring up. According to History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course,  advertisements in colonial America were most frequently announcements of goods on hand, but even in this early period, persuasive appeals accompanied dry descriptions. Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette reached out to readers with new devices like headlines, illustrations, and advertising placed next to editorial material. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century advertisements were not only for consumer goods.

Old Ad House for RentNotice there is no address or other contact information for John Beale. Richmond must not have been very large in 1804, and there must not have been more than one John Beale in town. That’s still true in many rural areas of the U.S. today. If you live in a small town, and have a good product or service, at a fair price, word will get around.

Until late in the nineteenth century, there were few companies mass producing branded consumer products. Patent medicine ads proved the main exception to this pattern. In an era when conventional medicine seldom provided cures, manufacturers of potions and pills vied for consumer attention with large, often outrageous, promises and colorful, dramatic advertisements.

Old Ad - Asthma CigarettesI couldn’t help but smile at this ad. Can you imagine trying to sell cigarettes to people with asthma in today’s world?  I wonder how many people bought them for their asthmatic 7-year old?

National advertising began to take hold in the 1880’s, when larger companies started to offer products that could be ordered through the mail. This also is when advertising agencies sprung up, to help design ads for national publications and find placement for them in popular newspapers and magazines.

Workers in the developing advertising industry sought legitimacy and public approval, attempting to disassociate themselves from the patent medicine hucksters and assorted swindlers in their midst.

Today, of course, we have a myriad of ways to advertise, and are bombarded with ads everywhere we look. The advertising industry is enormous. In 2012, U.S. companies spent $140 billion on advertising.

Here’s to Presidents’ Day and to entrepreneurs, old and new!

Until next time …


Sources: Daniel Pope, “Making Sense of Advertisements,” History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web, http://historymatters.gmu.edu/mse/Ads/, June 2003; and Kantar Media


$140 billion
$140 billion
$140 billion