I touched on the idea of 5-steps a couple of months ago and I have had quite a few people get in touch asking for a bit more detail. When people ask me what I do and I say I run a marketing company, they almost always make one of 2 assumptions:
- Marketing = Design & Advertising or
- Marketing = Websites & Digital
While both of these refer to aspects of marketing, neither (IMHO) defines ‘Real Marketing’.
What do I mean by 'Real Marketing'?
Real Marketing is more fundamental. It is communicating the essence of you and your business. It is about what you stand for and what people can expect if they choose to do business with you. Getting these things right is a big deal and worth some effort. Real Marketing takes time and you need to be committed to it. This isn’t to say your marketing can’t evolve over time, it can and it should. But the process should be evolution rather than revolution. Getting started isn’t difficult but does benefit from putting some thought into it. In my experience, setting plans then giving myself some time to process my views on what I have planned is a great way to really decide whether I am comfortable with my ideas, or do I need to think again? Here are my 5 steps to real marketing. I hope you find them useful…
1. Create a written plan
A written plan doesn’t need to be long and wordy. It is simply a way of crystallising your ideas so that you can refer back to them without any unconscious adaption! As a minimum, your plan should define 3 things:
A -Your key business proposition
What is the essence of what you do?
B – Your target market
Who is it you want to work with? As a rule, I would never suggest you simply target anyone/everyone! This may give you comfort that you aren’t excluding any possible customers but it makes communicating with your market challenging. You should be able to have a pretty good go at defining your market with 3 factors:
- Location – where are you primary target customers located?
- Activity – What is it that your customers do that make them relevant to your proposition?
- Potential – Is your product/service mass market or niche?
C – What real value/benefit you deliver
Be careful with this one, it may not be as obvious as you first think. Don’t think about the features of what you do, think about the benefits your customers gain. If you aren’t sure, ask some them!
2 – Develop a practical communications strategy
Use your written plan as a platform to decide what message(s) you want to communicate, who you want to communicate with and how you plan to do it? These days there are seemingly endless communication options which in itself can be a challenge. Don’t feel that by not using option ‘X’ you are risking missing something. Think about where you are most comfortable. If you are a real Social Media fan, may there are some options here. If you prefer face to face, maybe getting out and networking might be better.Whatever communication tools you select, make sure they are appropriate to your target market. Don’t forget Step 5!
3 – Regularly review and refine your communication
No plan survives first contact with the enemy! I’m not sure about the enemy reference but this military truism has a great deal of resonance in marketing. All too often, people don’t behave as expected – we’ve seen a good deal of this recently! As you see people reacting/responding to your communications, be ready to adapt in the light of their feedback. Remember though that adapting should be within the framework of your plan! If you find the fundamentals of your plan being challenged, it may be time to go back to the drawing board for you whole business!
4 – Stick at it
Real marketing takes time. In fact, I believe you should see it as a consistent function of your ongoing business, something that you keep doing. Frequency is more important than volume. If you can allocate an hour a week to marketing and make sure you do something constructive and take action, it is better than spending a whole day on marketing 2 or 3 times each year.
5 – Don’t overcommit!
Try to make your marketing easy for you. If you don’t feel comfortable with a particular marketing approach, ask yourself why. Don’t do things just because you are told they are ‘the right thing to do‘. Your marketing should reflect your business and you do have a choice. If you over-commit your resources doing something you are not particularly comfortable with (could be time, or money, or both) you will struggle to stick at it and sustained activity is essential.