A simple marketing plan for busy people

If you’re a business owner with limited staff keeping the ‘sausage machine’ stuffed is a perpetual challenge!  When business comes in the customer has to come first and it’s easy to push the marketing activities onto the back burner simply because of lack of time.  The problem is that when the current customer demands are met you’ll need more business and the marketing machine has been switched off.  Starting from scratch is tough and it takes a while before your efforts are rewarded.

Marketing planSo – how can you keep your marketing ticking over while you’re busy elsewhere?  The secret is in planning ahead, start now and create these basic elements to tick the important boxes that will market your business:

Social media

When you DO have some time create a bank of value based posts.  I usually aim at a minimum of 28 – all linked to various relevant pages on your website or blogs.  These can be scheduled to go out weekly.  With a small investment (about £7 a month) in Hootsuite Pro account you can post the whole batch to Twitter, LinkedIn and your Facebook and Google+ Pages every week in a couple of minutes.  Once they’re written this is an easy task to delegate.  It means you’re sharing your expertise and being visible even if you’re busy.

If you’re B2B then LinkedIn is probably the best platform to build relationships with potential customers.  If you’re B2C then Facebook may suit you better.  Get the habit of coffee and LinkedIn/Facebook.  You only need to spend a few minutes looking in the groups and/or Pages where your target audience is active.  Scan the threads for anything where you can add value and post your thoughts.  This will keep you visible and show off your expertise.

Blogs

If you’re not writing blogs already, think about doing that as it’s an excellent way to demonstrate your expertise (like this one!) and can be used to feed your social media and as the base for a newsletter.  If you write a bit then have a brainstorming session and create a list of things you could write about – answer questions your customers often ask, create case studies, share your expertise.  Start writing them up – aim to complete one each week and then post two a month and keep the others in your ‘bank’ or schedule them ahead to post into the future.

If you’re not a natural writer short video clips will do the job or find someone who can write and get them on the case.  We do this for some of our clients, but I also know wives/husbands who do this for their other halves and, if you have staff, there is often someone in the business who is able to do it.

Newsletter

If something has to give, this is probably the one to go.  However, if you have a couple of blogs posted and an offer or promotion, putting together a newsletter shouldn’t take long.  Whether you’re using an in-house CRM system, MailChimp, AWeber or one of the other online distribution tools, get your newsletter template set up and then lead with the headline and opening paragraph of each of your blogs, followed by your promotion or offer.  It shouldn’t take more than half an hour to put together and, if you have staff, could easily be delegated once the template and list are set up.

Offline networking

Choose a couple of networking groups that actually bring in business and make the commitment to turning up.  If you have an urgent project people usually understand if you miss occasionally – but, not if you only attend one in four meetings.  Put it in your diary and go.  If it’s a breakfast group you should be back in the office by 9, if it’s at any other time of the day treat it as an appointment with a client – it will be as important to your business as any client as it’s the means of bringing more business in.

Of course, there are many more networking activities you could do, but if you schedule these activities in you will keep your traction and won’t end up finding you’ve finished all your existing projects and have to start from scratch.

 

 

How shiny is your reputation?

Walking by the sea tracks

When was the last time you did a reputation check?  Do you know what people are saying about you – good and not so good?

Most of us work hard, are nice to our customers and deliver good quality goods and services – but is that enough to create a great reputation?  If you think about it, you know of people who have made a lot of money and are very high profile – and yet you know other people who deliver the same services and are struggling to get by.  It doesn’t mean that they aren’t as good, in fact, often they are actually a bit better.  It just means that their reputation has reached far enough to gain critical mass.

Growing a list

You’ll hear online marketers saying ‘the money is in the list’ and they’re right.  The more people that know about you and hear good things about you, the further your fame spreads.

  • If you have a list of 300 people those 300 may think you are amazing, but only them and a few of their contacts know about you.
  • If you have a list of 50,000 that’s going to mean a huge number of people are listening to what you say.

The first few hundred can be challenging, but there will come a point where your systems gather interest from more and more people.  If you know how to grow a list of 50,000, then the next step to 100,000 is pretty easy.  Now you’ve got critical mass.

Social success

There is a lot of controversy over whether social media is trivia or power.  Both can be true depending on how you use them.  If you share value to your target audience people will follow you and like and share your posts.  The secret is in having a strategy and a plan of action, then sticking to it.

That means regular material being made available and sharing it with as many people as possible.

This might be blogging regularly then sharing the blog link with your Twitter followers, Facebook Page community, Linkedin connections, Google+ circles and pinning the image on Pinterest.  It might be sending the blog to your list as a newsletter, it may be talking about it at networking events or running a webinar on it.

The other side of the social media coin is engagement.  If you sit in a corner and don’t talk to anyone at a live networking meeting you won’t get anywhere.  The same applies online.  You need to be active and engage with people in your target market and other people who supply that market.

Recommendations and testimonials

People can recommend you on LinkedIn, customers can give testimonials to you that can be used on your website and marketing material, other people can recommend you in Tweets and posts on other platforms.  All these contribute to your reputation.  Do you ask for feedback on your services and products?  You should!

In the offline world

Everything you do offline counts too.  The quality of your business cards and marketing material, the effectiveness of your 60 second presentation, how you look and behave – they all have an impact and help people to form an impression.  How much help do you give people who need it?  How friendly are you?  How well-organised do you appear?  It all contributes to your reputation.

How does this affect my reputation?

Try typing your name into Google (other search engines are available!).  Even if you have a name that is quite common, the number of mentions you get on the first few pages will give you an indication of how you’re doing, unless your name is Tom Cruise or Jennifer Aniston!  If you have a famous name try your name and your main keyword.

Most people are surprised to find that their business website is lower down the list than their social media activity.  That’s because sites like Facebook and LinkedIn have so much activity that they are under constant surveillance from the search engines.  Your website activity is likely to be minuscule in comparison, so the search engines will only visit from time to time.

The more positive material that is visible to the world, the better your reputation will be and the further it will reach.

 

3 Essentials for Effective Online Marketing

Lots of businesses see the opportunities offered by online marketing as like a huge box of chocolates – lots of tasty goodies so they can’t wait to try them all! Unlike chocolates, the opportunities don’t disappear, they’re always there to be used – like a magic self-replenishing box of chocolates!! The problem is usually that the new marketer tends to stuff themselves with any ‘chocolate’ that comes to hand and end up feeling not very well.

When most of the online tools are free it’s easy to gorge on whatever the latest flavour is, whether that’s Twitter, Facebook Pages, LinkedIn, Google+, blogging, creating newsletters, ethical bribes, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, email campaigns, ebooks, webinars, podcasts – the list goes on and on and on. It can be overwhelming and it’s no wonder that some users overindulge, find they’ve spent hours a week and don’t have much return for their efforts.

So, given that online marketing DOES work, done properly – what are the secrets of success?

From my experience there are three core essentials to making it all work.

Businessmen with SM

1. Have a clear description of the customer you’re looking to attract

Not just a general outline, but lots of detail. Age, industry, turnover, staff numbers, problems, preferences – everything you can find out about that perfect customer. The common mistake people make is ignoring this or doing a generic description. If you don’t invest the time in this your marketing activity is likely to be random – and will rarely work. If you make the effort and get this right, it will make your marketing simple and bring in exactly the kind of clients you want.

2.  Research where your ideal client hangs out

Lots of activity on social networks may make you visible, but not necessarily to the people you want to attract – especially if you’re making lots of noise on Facebook and they don’t use that platform, or if you’re Tweeting up a storm and they’re all in a LinkedIn group chatting amongst themselves.  What do they read?  Where are they active in forums?  What do they respond to – blogs, posts, private messages, free information, taster sessions?  If you know where to find your audience you’re on the fast track to being noticed by them.

3.  Put together a strategy – and stick to it!

No plan = no results.  Now you know who you want to reach and where they are, you’re halfway to making them sit up and take notice.  However, you need a plan.  What methods are going to be most effective?  What will impress your perfect customers?  How will you engage with them?  This might be starting a regular Twitter clinic, having a Google hangout on a subject they will be eager to find out about, it might be helping them out with advice in a LinkedIn group, it might be running a competition on Facebook, it could be writing brilliant blogs and sharing them in the appropriate networks, it could be offering a free webinar or tutorial.  You’ll only know what is likely to work when you’ve done numbers 1 and 2.

Decide what you’ll do, how often you’ll do it, who will be responsible and how results will be tracked and measured.

If you invest time up front in these three thing you will reap substantial rewards in the longer term.

 

 

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