Why is Having a Marketing Plan Important to Your Business

Your Marketing Plan for your businessMarketing is one of the key components of a successful business, and without question, most entrepreneurs and small business owners are not marketing nearly enough. Marketing is often confused with Sales, but they’re really two different things. For sales to be realized, effective marketing must take place first.

What is Marketing?

The American Marketing Association defines Marketing as:

“… the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

The definition by Wikipedia is a little more complex, but really sums up, in a few short sentences, what you need to know about marketing your business, and how it can be done effectively to meet the needs of your target market and your business.

Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling that product or service.

Marketing can be looked at as an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, delivering and communicating value to customers, and customer relationship management that also benefits the organization. Marketing is the science of choosing target markets through market analysis and market segmentation, as well as understanding consumer behavior and providing superior customer value. From a societal point of view, marketing is the link between a society’s material requirements and its economic patterns of response. Marketing satisfies these needs and wants through exchange processes and building long term relationships.”

Why You Need Marketing Plan

Whether you’re just starting a business or have been in business for a while, it takes an investment in time, energy, and financial resources. These are basically your most important resources, and you would not want to squander them by approaching your business without a goal, a plan and strategies to achieve those goals.

Your marketing plan, not to be confused with a business plan, is a roadmap or path for one of the key components of your business – marketing. It helps you refine your strategies and maximize your efforts to get your products and services in front of the right people who will then want to buy what you have to offer.

Frankly, when I started my online business, I did not have a marketing plan. I only knew I wanted to get more visibility for the business I did at the time, and as a result I wasted a lot of time and money. I don’t want that to happen to you, or if it has already happened, you can put an end to it.

What are the Components of a Successful Marketing Plan?

In order to complete a successful marketing plan, there are three essential components you must get right. You have to do your research, know what’s involved in your marketing mix – the strategies and tactics you will implement, and always, always monitor your results. This is the only way you’ll know if you’re achieving the desired results; if not, where you need to make changes.

I’ll go into more details about those essential components in upcoming blog posts. In the meantime, if you have questions or need help with your marketing plan, you’re invited to send me an email through my contact form.

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Follow-Up to Build Relationships at Networking Events

follow-up to build relationshipsOne of the things I enjoy most in my business is the opportunity to build relationships while engaging in networking activities. These may be attending networking events in my local area where my target audience is, or attending live events outside of my local community. How about you? Do you enjoy attending events and meeting other professionals and business owners? While the opportunities to develop these relationships exist, they will not go beyond a ‘nice conversation’ at an event if further steps are not taken. What are these steps?

How to Use Your Resources. Be a Resource

Before we go into what is required to build relationships at networking events, you’ll agree that attending events of any kind uses two of your most valuable resources: time and money. As a small business owner, entrepreneur or solo-professional, your time is money and time spent on one thing is time away from another. Since that’s the case, you cannot afford to waste any of these resources; you must approach networking with a specific goal in mind and a plan to achieve that goal. Let me first dispel the idea that your goal should be to see how many of your business cards you can give out.  One of the goals you should have is to build relationships  with other professionals or business owners.

To those who are not accustomed to face to face networking it may seem a contradiction to say that rather than going with the idea of getting; go with the mindset of giving. Be a valuable resource to others by being others-focused; use your expertise to help others solve their problems. You do this by taking time to meet people, get to know them, find out what their concerns are and offer assistance.
Dynamic, motivational speaker and author, Bob Burg said, “The successful networkers I know, the ones receiving tons of referrals and feeling truly happy about themselves, continually put the other person’s needs ahead of their own.
Does all of this happen at one event and at a one-time meeting? It could, if you had a lot of time to talk so that you build trust and rapport. The reality is that most times you do not have enough time at a single event to accomplish these goals, so what next?

Follow-Up, Follow-Up, Follow-Up

Follow-up is the most important part of the networking process. When you follow-up it shows that you are interested in building the relationship. An important part of building relationships through networking is to create a Follow-up Schedule. It can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it, but your goal should be to follow-up, preferably within 24 to 48 hours of meeting the new contact. Since not many people do this effectively, you will stand out from the crowd. Another important reason is that the other person will remember you and the conversation you had more easily.
Whether you follow-up by email or telephone, make it easy for the person you’re following up with.
• Remind the person who you are
• State your name, when and where you met
• Hopefully you made a note on the back of their card about something you spoke of. Remind the person of the conversation or of the specific point.

How to Keep the Conversation Going

Here is the part I got stuck on when I first started to attend networking events. What do I say to keep the conversation going in the follow-up call or email? Continuing the conversation may include asking for more information, sharing something you think they’d like, offering some kind of help, or arranging to meet again.
You always want to be authentic. Therefore, if during your initial conversation the other person expressed a concern and you know that you can provide the solution, be transparent and real. Remind the person of the concern they voiced, let them know you had been thinking of them and you believe you can help to solve their problem. If they really want help, they’ll agree to schedule a time to meet with you.
If you’re doing your follow-up using email, all of the foregoing will apply, but you also want to make an extra effort to be warm and friendly. Since the other person is reading only words, without the benefit of seeing your facial expressions and hearing the tone of your voice, it’s important to make a special effort to be warm and friendly.

The goal of  follow-up is to build relationships for your mutual benefit. The benefits may not always come to you immediately but don’t give up. Remember that you are being observed by others and you’re building the know, like and trust factor. As you give, you will receive.

What type of events do you like to attend and what’s your favorite method to follow-up? Please leave your comments below.

Discovering Your Why in Your Business

Discovering Your Why in Your BusinessWhat is your big WHY? By itself this is a broad question because each of us may have a different WHY for various areas in our life. Let’s focus on your business. What’s your WHY for being in business? What keeps you motivated and helps you to get out of bed each morning and do it again?

Why is understanding your WHY critical?

Clearly understanding your WHY is critical to your progress and success because this is what it going to keep you going when you have set-backs and disappointments in your business. If you are a Coach, Consultant, Information Marketer, Solopreneur, etc. some common disappointments could include:

  • You did your market research by surveying your ideal clients who told you they had a specific problem.
  • You are an expert on solving that problem, or you learned everything you could then developed a program to solve that problem, but no one bought it.
  • You planned a live workshop or other live event and only a mere fraction of people who said they were interested actually signed up and attended.
  • You scheduled a webinar and lots of people signed up but only one person attended, or worse, there was no one on the call.
  • Or you sell products. You studied which products are “hot” right now and stocked your shelves or increased your inventory…but none of your customers seem to be interested.

How will you react to each of these situations? Will you throw in the towel and say that ‘you can’t do this anymore; it’s just too hard.’ You could, and understandably you may be tempted. But it’s your WHY that’s going to allow you to pick up the pieces and go on.

Sir Winston Churchill said, “Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.”  But that enthusiasm has to be fed by the reasons that you clearly have identified, including having a vision and specific goals to achieve that vision so that you’re willing to go from failure to failure until you succeed.

The Process

Is this an easy process? No. You may have to dig down real deep to uncover the true reason why you are in business and why you stay in business. It’s an exercise that’s worth the time and effort. Think of it as peeling off the layers on an onion.

Example of getting to your real WHY. This involves asking yourself a lot of why’s:

  1. To be in business for myself
  2. So I can provide for my family and myself and pay my bills on time
  3. So I can schedule my hours and enjoy flexibility
  4. So I can home-school my children or attend their school events
  5. Etc.

When you finally get to the ‘heart of the onion’ you’ll have a clear picture of your WHY and this is what will keep you going when the going is almost impossible.

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help with man with the wrong mental attitude. – W.W. Ziege. Discovering your WHY and with the ‘right mental attitude’ you will achieve your goals in your business.

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Yvonne A Jones supports small business owners and highly motivated entrepreneurs to improve their bottomline with online marketing strategies and building strong customer relationships that deliver real results.  Contact her at http://YvonneAJones.com/contactme or complete the Quiz on the Home Page to schedule a complimentary Business Breakthrough session.

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Benefits of Customer Loyalty Programs and Referral Cards

customer loyalty programLoyalty programs have for years been the foundation on which many companies grew their business. Loyalty programs encourage customers to remain loyal as they accrue points or other benefits that reward them for keep coming back to the business.

Loyalty Programs and More

It’s noteworthy that the Small Business Association has a detailed article on its website entitled, “7 Tips for Starting a Successful Customer Loyalty Program.” The writer recommends starting with a low-tech option, if you’re new to managing a loyalty program and discusses other options, like Premium Loyalty Programs that have limits on who may be eligible, as well as programs that integrate a digital component.

From the entrepreneur who is in Multi-Level Marketing or Direct Sales to the business that has many employees and divisions, all can benefit by introducing a loyalty program. It can be as simple for a Beauty Consultant as creating a Lipstick or Mascara Club with a buy 6 of these items within 2 years and get one free or buy three and get the fourth half-off .

While these programs continue to work for many, some companies have found that loyalty programs are no longer enough to keep customers loyal. These must be accompanied by superior customer service and exceptional customer care.

Referral Cards

This morning I read an article which added another strategy to the mix, and that is the use of referral cards. In the article, “Referral Cards Provide Ammunition to Your Active Promoters,” the writer discussed the effectiveness of referral cards that provide exclusive benefits to others, say family members, via the customer.

“…Empowering your loyal customers to bring in their friends and family you are also facilitating conversation that strengthens your brand.” Not only is your customer benefiting, but he or she is introducing other customers to you through valuable, exclusive offers. Another benefit is that your customer will feel good that he or she is giving something of value, and the person who receives it feels more obligated to use it. A win win for everyone.

Do you have a loyalty or referral program in place for your business? If not, why not give it some serious thought and see which of these you’d like to implement first. To be effective both programs should also include an expiration date with the referral card being even more time-sensitive. Your comments are welcomed.

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Remember to pick up your copy of “STOP Losing Your Best Customers: Time-Tested Tips for Customer Retention” at http://getcustomersnow.com.

How to Claim the Vanity URL for Your Facebook Page in 6 Easy Steps

Facebook vanity urlWhen you customize something you usually want to add your individuality to it and make it reflect more clearly who you are and the purpose it serves. This is also true when you take steps to claim the custom or vanity URL for your Facebook business page.

Benefits of Claiming the Vanity URL for Your Facebook Business Page

There are several benefits to claiming the custom or vanity URL for your Facebook business page. Among them are:

1.  A URL that’s easy to share and easy to find:

Here is an example of the default Facebook page URL:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/SmallBusiness4U/857469375913?ref=ts

Imagine trying to remember all of these numbers to tell a customer where to find your Facebook page, and just imagine the room for error in keying in all those numbers. He or she would probably give up before actually getting to the page.

Here is an example of the address after you’ve claimed the custom URL:

http://facebook.com/smallbusiness4u

2.  Increased visibility online: The major social media platforms, including Facebook, have high authority status and rank highly in Google search results. As a result, your accounts on those platforms are likely to appear on the first two pages for your name in quotation marks.

3.  Makes it more memorable.

4.  Reflects what you do and how you serve others

 

Steps to claiming the Custom/Vanity URL for your Facebook Page

These are the steps outlined on Facebook

  1. Go to www.facebook.com/username
  2. Select “Select a Username” for your page
  3. This brings up a drop down menu, select the page you want to create the username for.
  4. If your page has the needed 25 fans it will bring up a box .
  5. Enter your desired username and click on “check availablilty”
  6. If it’s available, you will be shown some final terms – if you are happy with your choice click “confirm” or select “cancel” to try another one.

Quick reminders

In order to claim your custom or vanity URL you must usually have a minimum of 25 Likes.  There have been some exceptions, but frankly, I have no idea why some page owners can claim their vanity URL before they get to 25 likes, while others cannot.  You must be an Admin on the page to be able to select a User Name. Make it short, if possible, so it’s easily remembered. Finally, choose a username you’ll be happy with for the long term because Usernames are not transferable, and you can only change your Username once.

If you’ve not done so, claim the vanity URL for your Facebook Page today and have a custom URL you can easily share with others and attract more likes and engagement to your page.