Time and time again, we get contacted by small (and some surprisingly large) businesses that always seem to ask the same questions. During digital strategy consulting sessions, we get asked “Why doesn’t anyone visit our website?”, “Why don’t people understand our offerings”, and “How can I get more customers?” Fortunately, while every company’s problems and solutions are unique, we are able to find some common issues among them.

In order to be successful, you must truly evaluate yourself.

It’s near impossible to solve a problem if you don’t understand the cause. So, whenever we’re approached by a new client, we always like to ask them a few qualifying questions. Some of these questions include:

Why did you start your company?
In your opinion, where are you now?
Where would you like to be, and what are your goals for this exchange?

Despite these being some pretty tough questions to answer, especially when you’re asked them on the spot, they need to be answered in order for us, and anyone really, to effectively market a specific brand. Why? Let’s take an even closer look.

Why did you start your company?

If you’re a small business owner, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to answer this question. Whether you started your business because you were really passionate about the industry, or because you saw a void in the market for a specific service, or just wanted an outlet to give back to the community, there’s absolutely no wrong answer to this question. But within your answer, we can understand what exactly it is you’re ultimately looking to accomplish.

In your opinion, where is your company right now?

There may be times when where you once saw yourself going, and where your company is currently at are on completely opposite sides of the spectrum. That’s fairly normal, because goals and accomplishments get lost along the way due to a number reasons, some of which being more unpredictable than others. That’s why we like to ask, where are you now? It’s another opportunity for you to honestly evaluate if your original mission has stayed on course, or not. If not, it’s also an excellent time for you to recognize, and address any changes that need to be made to get your original mission back on track.

Where would you like to be, and what are your goals for this exchange?

After answering the first two questions, you should easily be able to determine exactly why you started your business, and the current state of it. But now, you must consider your options. Sometimes, businesses want to get back to their original goals. Other times, they want to be more successful than their current state, and either change their ways, or start completely fresh. Regardless, it’s up to you to pick one of the choices listed, and stick to it. Going off in multiple directions leaves you vulnerable, and will ultimately compromise the strength of your new plan from the get-go.

Developing Your Marketing Plan

Now that you know you’ve thought about the roots of your business, and determined where you would like to be, it’s time to start developing a new plan to address any outstanding issues. How?

Determine your audience.

Ask yourself, who is the intended audience for your service or product? If you’ve been in business for an extended period of time, chances are that you have an understanding of your current client base. If you plan to expand within your current market, and reach out to more individuals within your current demographic, you should take some time and think about what exactly it is that has been effective in the past. Once you can pinpoint what’s been effective, and what hasn’t, you can start to brain storm ways to spin these strategies and capitalize on them.

If you’re looking to expand into a new, untapped market in relation to your business, you’re going to need to do your homework. For whichever demographic you wish to target, you’re going to need to research buying patterns, average household incomes, and many other factors that are pertinent to your plan. If you don’t have the capacity to do this work yourself, it would be wise to hire experts that have experience within this field.

Set a budget

Once you’ve determined your audience, it’s time to start thinking about budget. While it can be easy to get carried away with a ton of amazing ideas, you really need to set a realistic budget that makes sense with your current financial obligations. If you have the facilities in house to do the design, development, and strategy involved with executing a marketing plan, it will cut down your overall cost. If not, I would suggest you dedicate at least half of your budget to contractors capable of executing the work. The remainder should be used on materials, which I use loosely, because based on your plan, you might need print, radio, video, digital, social, event, and many other components to execute your plan.

Develop a plan, and diversify your efforts.

When I say diversify your efforts, I’m not suggesting you try everything under the sun. I am simply suggesting that you don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Start off with one major focus, and three to five smaller off-shoots. This will allow you to target both short-term, and long-term goals. Additionally, try to pick options that easily tie into one another, rather than going full-spectrum right off the bat. If you’re revamping the company website, chances are you’ll want to start directing people to it. A small Adwords budget, or a weekly email campaign are quick, and affordable solutions that will help drive traffic to your website.

Be clear and concise with your message.

Consistency is a key factor in customer trust. Ensure that all of your materials are consistent in terms of aesthetics, quality, and content.

a. Aesthetics
Make sure your work looks like it’s coming from the same place. A direct mail piece that looks completely different then your e-mail campaign is bound to confuse the consumer. Making sure all of the materials are consistent reinforces your message.

b. Quality
Hiring a top-notch digital agency to develop your web presence, and then handing off the print work to a high school student is more-likely-then-not going to cause some major differences in the quality of the work. While yes, your website might be more important than a individual flyer, the goal is to evenly distribute your budget across all of your efforts to ensure that customers always receive a look and feel that properly represents your brand.

c. Content
Your written word on each piece is very important. Make sure that the terminology and tone used from your website, to your brochure, to your radio ad are consistent.

Ultimately there is no “quick fix” for creating some buzz about your business. Taking the time to evaluate your goals and past efforts will give you an idea as to what your campaign should be. Taking the time to make the campaign consistent and true to your message will ensure you’re connecting with target audience.

Need help getting your marketing efforts off the ground? Feel free to speak with us for a no obligations consultation.