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There are countless reasons why a business might not thrive. Business may slow due to decreased demand, increased competition, poor communication, lackluster products or services, or any number of other things. But when my clients come to me and say business isnâ€™t as good as theyâ€™d like it to be, there is one element we always look at first: marketing. Even if everything else in your business is perfect, the lack of a good marketing plan can slow business to a crawl.
Not everyone is a marketing expert, but if you are willing to put a little effort in to your business and are knowledgeable about what you do and your target clients, you can put together a workable marketing plan. I like to break this process down into three stages, which are as follows.
Stage 1: Whatâ€™s your message?
There is no one-size-fits-all marketing plan. Different businesses cater to different clients, and even within your industry there may be a diversity of philosophies. The key for you is to figure out who your clients are. Remember, you donâ€™t have to market to the world. You just have to market to the people who are interested in what you offer.
The best way to get a feel for your target market is to listen to them. Find out where they congregate. For example, are there web forums or social-networking groups where they can be found? And in the real world, do your target Clients tend to gather at certain venues or events? If so, get out there and mix with them.
As youâ€™re thinking about your target market, try to answer these questions:
Â· Why do people seek products or services like yours, and how do they find them?
Â· What problems do your clients need solved?
Â· What makes them decide to buy or not to buy?
Â· How much do they need what youâ€™re offering? Is it a necessity? Is it a luxury? Somewhere in between?
Â· Are they liable to shop around, or would they prefer to stick to one company?
Â· Are your potential clients looking for quality, or do they just want a good bargain?
If you can answer these questions, you should be able to boil it all down into a simple message. Then itâ€™s time to figure out how to get the message out.
Stage 2: Create infrastructure to implement the plan
Once you know your market and have a message, itâ€™s time to build your marketing infrastructure. For example, if your clientele are tech-savvy and active in social networking, set up profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But remember, itâ€™s important to actually use any social networking services you sign up for. If you donâ€™t have time for all three of those services, pick the one or two your clients use most.
Meanwhile, practically every business needs a well-made website. If you already have one, do an assessment and try to see it through your target clientsâ€™ eyes. You might even recruit some friends to take a look and give honest opinions. To many of your clients, your website will be the outward representation of your company, so make sure you can feel proud to stand behind it.
Stage 3: Market
As you implement your plan, remember that flexibility is the key. Recommitting yourself to marketing can give your business a big shot of energy, but there may be elements of your marketing plan that just donâ€™t work. In this case, donâ€™t be afraid to change course. When you keep doing the same thing over and over again, you will only get the same results.
As a Marketing Strategist and Small Business Coach, Jennifer Davey helps struggling business owners find their footing and get ahead in todayâ€™s highly competitive market. For more information about how to build a marketing plan that gets clients, download her report, â€œWhat you Need to Know to Be Successful at Getting Clients,â€ at http://jjscoaching.com/free-report.