Some people make resolutions. Some follow the Chris Brogan “three words” paradigm. Others – like me – ignore the whole thing in favor of just keeping on keeping on, with improvements at times, with successes and failures and doing something every day.
But at this time of year we all like to have a sense of starting fresh, of “getting it right” and being new and shiny and hopeful.
January first – or maybe just the first Monday back to work – is our magical thinking day. Our be productive day. Our doing all the things on the list, in the right order, to the right tune day.
By February we’re usually out of steam. Resolutions wilt. The new shinies start to get a greenish sort of crust on them. It’s back to business as usual.
This year, I have an alternative.
How about instead of making resolutions or grand statements or big plans, how about starting with a simple marketing plan?
How about laying out the fundamentals that will not only take you through the year but nursed and tweaked properly will take you through the rest of your business life?
And how about doing all that without stress and frustration?
If you’re a little tired of resolutions and lofty ideals that never seem to come to fruition, come on back to earth with me and let’s do a little brain exercise. It’s not glamorous. There’s no secret. But it will help you bring your vision in line with your goals and then add a hefty dose of reality for helping you achieve them.
Start here… and when you’re done, enter your name and email into the box below to access our marketing plan outline. You can use it now, and in February, and all year long and even next year, too!
Marketing starts with knowing who you’re marketing to. Create a clear picture, not just in your head but on paper, of who your customers are.
Marketing Mistake #1 is thinking your customers are “everyone” or even “anyone who will buy my stuff”.
That tells nobody anything.
What’s the age range and gender of your customer base? How about their income levels? Lifestyles? Interests?
It’s not good enough to create a mythical “perfect person” – you know, the one you want to work with. You’d better serve your business by thinking about the types of people who would want to work with you.
We talked about the pitfalls of thinking about “ideal clients” before. If you’re going to make a resolution, for this year or the next or any after, make it be that you’ll approach your marketing and customers with less wishful thinking and more reality.
I swear I’m not beating you with the obvious stick here, but you must know what product or service you’re offering and you must know it with precision and clarity.
That’s not as simple as it sounds – take it from someone who spent a lot of time thinking long and hard about what our company does and even changing focus a few times as we refined and perfected.
If you find yourself at networking events stumbling through a few words – or maybe a lot of them – about what you do… explaining, clarifying, describing… you have a problem.
Practice your elevator pitch.
Know, instantly, not only what you offer but why that matters to someone. Make sure you can explain it succinctly in as few words as possible. Make sure they’re powerful words.
Once you know who your customers are, you need to figure out why they would want your product or service. What is it that you provide, by way of solving their problems or filling a need, that would make someone want what you’re offering?
Perhaps more importantly, why would they want it from you?
Sometimes we call this your “differentiator”. More literary people may refer to it as your “secret sauce”.
The good news is that you neither have to contend with big marketing words nor chase elusive secrets. You only need to know yourself and your business, what you stand for, why you do what you do and what makes you you.
YOU are the reason people will do business with you. Get clear on that and you can ignore all the big words and recipes.
Now that you have some clarity, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to connect your customers with your products or services.
It’s all about the logistics at this point, but no email campaign ever created itself, no blog post ever wrote itself, no website ever designed itself.
Sit down and figure out what avenues and channels you will use to reach customers. Direct mail? Social media? Billboards? Pay-per-click advertising?
This will depend on your resources in terms of time, money and knowledge, so think about what the best options are for you.
While you’re doing this, it will also hep to think about…
Where are your customers and where are they most likely to get your message?
There’s no point in putting up a Billboard in Times Square if your customers are rural farm moms.
Likewise there’s no point in spending time, effort and money on Facebook if your customers prefer Pinterest.
It will take some listening, some thinking, some brainstorming and even perhaps some asking to find out where your customers are. But if you know your audience well then you can start with some educated assessments and go from there.
Even the fastest trains in the world won’t arrive on time without a schedule.
Your plans are only as good as your ability to execute them and for that you need to know when you’ll be tackling certain tasks. On what schedule will you publish a blog? When will you post to Twitter? How often will you send out emails?
Scheduling will not only help you ensure that your plans actually see the light of day but it will take out the guesswork. You’ll never lose another moment’s sleep worrying about whether your blog is languishing or stressing out about how long it’s been since your last email.
Tie It Up In A Bow And Go
Are you ready for a new year and a fresh start without the angst of broken resolutions? Get on board with some solid thinking, planning and doing and you can kiss the guilt goodbye.
Now plunk your name and email right here and I’ll send you a link to access our marketing plan outline so you can get started right now. And stick around… you’ll be notified when new content is published and you’ll get advanced notice of special offers and more great private content. And if you need help completing your outline or getting clear on where you’re going, let me know.
Happy New Year!
Update: You can now get the social media content calendar and a bunch more useful resources in the Marketing Game Changer Kit.