Christian entrepreneurs understand that marketing takes strategy. A strategy placed into action will save money and get better results.
Picture this: a salesman enters your business and tells you about all the customers and money you will get if you just buy a simple coupon or ad in their magazine. Or you get an email with the next greatest marketing idea that will change the way everyone is doing business. Or you get a flyer or phone call telling you about the newest craze and you can be one of the first to take advantage of this exciting offer.
How do you know which ones to choose and which one will work for your business?
Implementing a marketing strategy keeps you from being blown by the next wind of innovation that comes along. I counted over one hundred different ways that I can help people with marketing and when you combine them that takes the numbers into the hundreds of thousands…if not millions. With all of these choices, which one do you use?
Note: Make sure you read our previous articles. In our first article we talked about what marketing is. In our second article we shared a how to guide to get your marketing foundation set up. Today we talk about some simple steps to put a marketing strategy into action.
Starting with a marketing strategy
First, you must start with a good understanding about where your marketing is going. You don’t want to blindfold yourself and throw something out to see what happens. You want to have a targeted plan with a targeted goal.
It’s like fishing. You have to have the right bait for the right fish. Then you need to put your line in the water where the fish is most likely to be.
You should have read our article on the foundations of marketing. If you did those exercises, you have what you need to set up a marketing plan. When you researched your customers, you saw where they hang out. You understand what they read, drive and where they are likely to live. Now all you need to do is identify how to get your message in front of them as timely and specifically as possible.
Getting your message out
In today’s world there are two kinds of marketing: offline and online. Offline marketing is things like business cards, signs, billboards, ads in magazines, flyers, etc. Online marketing starts with your webpage and then branches out to social media, directories, blogs, ads, etc.
Don’t get overwhelmed. Simply ask yourself. “Based on my research are my customers likely to get online or are they likely to congregate in a specific location.” Then, choose one.
If they congregate in a specific location, put ads there, make your presence known, and offer them the opportunity to know about your product. You may be able to partner with the owner of the location or even buy ads. I was recently in a mall and noticed that the tables had ads displayed under the glass on the table. In another location, they posted magnetic signs for local businesses on the walls. Another location had TV’s that displayed simple ads from local businesses. Just do what you need to do to get the message where they are. Think outside the box and set a plan of action that goes beyond the next ad sales guy that comes by.
Quick point of clarification: I am not against ad sales people. I just want you to have a clear understanding about your customer so you can know where best to place your ad. If the magazine will work for your customer, use it, but be wise about where you spend your dollars.
Marketing in the digital age
When we talk about online marketing, you have probably heard the term Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. It is a fancy word that means you make sure your webpage will show up online when people search for your business. It is not hard and this is not an article about SEO, but let me give you a quick walk through of the basics.
To start with you must understand what your customers search for when they go online to find a business like yours. For instance if you own a beauty salon your customers may search for “beauty salon” or “best beauty salon” or “beauty salon my city” “beauty salon coupons” or even “hairstyles” or “hair trends.” If you don’t know how to do this kind of research you can hire a professional marketer to help, look it up online or check out our training on Google products which includes a section on keyword research.
On your webpage you want to say specifically what you do and make sure you include the keywords your customers may be searching. Don’t try to be cute with your words, be specific and focus on what you do for the customer: the results. You want to have your services listed out with a few paragraphs describing what you do. You want to have an ‘about’ page that describes the way you help your customer.
One thing I always suggest is to have a blog. It is pretty simple to do. Just give relevant information to your customers on a regular basis. This lets search engines know that you are a real business and actually want to help your customers. It also keeps search engines noticing your page since it has new content on it.
Outside of your webpage, social media and directories is the next level. You want them all to have the same address, phone number, etc. Use pictures and keep the branding consistent across all platforms. (Here is a free training webinar for setting up directories. Here are some previous posts about social media from a Christian perspective.)
The whole purpose of having a webpage is to have a single location where your customers can find your business. The more places online that talk about your business, the more search engines see you as relevant to your customers. If you have directories, social media and all those things, you have increased your relevance in search engines. (You also want to make sure it can be read on a cell phone, called mobile optimized.)
Once you have your website set up, you want to go back to your research. Get on web pages that your customers visit. Ask about placing ads on blogs, forums, online magazines, and other webpages that are relevant to your customers. You can even place ads on social media, like Facebook and with search engines like Google. It takes time, so you may want to hire a pro to help you. Here is a marketing pro we found that is Christian and reasonably priced.
You want to know where your hard earned dollars are going. All marketing can be tracked, so don’t let some ad sales guy tell you otherwise. Sadly, I have seen much wasted money. For instance, I live in a condo with very little grass. There are over 300 units. I saw that we had an ad for lawn care in our mail boxes even though we have a single lawn care company. That business spent money on over 300 printed ads and 300 stamps, not to mention how much it cost to create the ads and buy the mailing list. It was all wasted because they did not focus their efforts and know where their ads were going.
Keep track of every place customers are coming from: online or offline. You can use a simple spread sheet, or just a good notebook with tabs so you can see where customers come from. If you do a lot of digital marketing, there are many tracking tools you can use. Most online ad platforms have integrated tracking built into their systems.
Having a plan of action for your marketing helps you keep from being swayed by the next marketing craze. Sure, you can try new opportunities, but only if they fit your customer and your goals in marketing. Check your return on investment, ROI, for every marketing dollar you spend. Then, you will have a well-oiled marketing machine to help your business grow.
Keep in mind you want to have a marketing plan going when business is doing well. If you wait until business slows down, you are too late. Keep your momentum and keep your focus. Remember, marketing is about helping the most people by making sure they know about your business.
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