Having a comprehensive, well thought out marketing plan has always been important. Given the roller coaster ride that is 2020, if you don’t have a solid strategy in place now, you’re putting your enterprise at extreme risk.
What is a marketing plan? It is nothing more nor less than your overall strategy for communicating with and reaching out to your prospects and customers. Sounds simple, right? In concept it is, but in practice it takes constant attention and refinement to be effective.
Whether you are adjusting an existing plan or you are starting one from scratch, answering two fundamental questions will lead you down the right path. First, how do you reach out to prospects? Do you advertise on social media, use direct mail, Google ads, television, maybe radio? Second, how do you increase brand awareness? Personal contacts and networking, joint projects with other firms, social media posts, or community involvement? Your marketing plan needs to address both customer acquisition (and retention) and brand building.
If it’s been a while (or if you’re brand new to this exercise), you must continuously evaluate the ROI (Return On Investment) of your various customer acquisition methods. How effective have your Google Ads been over the past few months? I’m shocked at the number of business owners I know who run Google Ads and cannot answer this question instantly without looking it up on their computer. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re spending $750 a month and getting less than a $1,500 back in sales from Google Ads, it’s time to make an adjustment. Same thing for direct mail, email – any and all forms of advertising.
It can be tricky calculating ROI when it comes to advertising and promotion. If you’re using several forms of promotion – Google Search Ads, Flyers, Facebook Posts – how do you know which one generated the new customer? With Google ads tracking is relatively simple (Google Analytics), but only if they buy online. One part of any good marketing plan is accurately identifying how a new customer learned about your business. The better the data you collect, the better your marketing plan will be.
Marketing plans do no run well on autopilot. Especially in 2020! At least every month, take the time to review all aspects of your marketing. If you use an agency, you need to read, drill down on, and question your monthly report. If you do not use an agency, collect the data yourself, and do so diligently. Far too many small business people use the “throw Jello at the wall and see if it sticks” approach to marketing. That can work for a short time when times are good, but longer-term that’s a prescription for disaster.
Not every marketing platform or strategy is right for every business. Google Ads are a good example. Search ads drive ready to buy customers to your business, at least that’s the idea. But in practice, how are they working for you? Are you trying to make Google Ad Express, the do it yourself, over-generalized ad generator, work like Google Ads (a big mistake for most businesses)? If you only have 100 email names on your proprietary list, why are you spending hours sending them promotional sales emails? Are your direct mail efforts generating at least twice the cost of the promo? Ask yourself the hard, probing questions because you need the answers – now more than ever.
Whenever I’m asked what’s the most important thing to do right now, in 2020, for any business owner, my answer is always the same – maximize communication with your customers and prospects. A comprehensive and implemented marketing plan, a plan you actually use and not just write down, stick in a desk drawer or in a digital dungeon and forget it is both your best defense and offense in these challenging times.
Reach out to me anytime for assistance. I’d love to work with you and help you build a comprehensive marketing and promotion plan for your business.