The answer to the question of how to take your business to market is, with a tactical marketing plan. I don’t mean to be flippant, but the operative word here is TACTICAL.
There are a series of steps you can take to ensure that your marketing is just that, and I’ll lay them out here for you now.
First of all, know your audience
Do some market research to identify who you want as a customer and the best ways to attract them. Create a customer avatar, or persona that details everything about the perfect customer/s, including what their pain is, where they hang out online and in real life, and what other businesses they might follow.
TIP: Invest some time into competitor research as well. Find out what works for them what makes them attractive, or vice versa.
Now you know who you’re talking to and what you’re talking about (solutions to their pain, empathy and humour etc), you can work out what tools you’ll need to convey your message in the marketplace.
The marketing mix
The marketing mix’ refers to the mix of activities and platforms you’ll use to raise awareness, gain interest and sell. There will be different activities and platforms depending what stage of the buying process your customers are at.
Here are some ideas for marketing activities. Have a look at this list and note what stage your customers are at when you could put them to use.
- Website pages and blogs
- Social media pages
- Online and social media advertising
- Print advertising
- Business cards and stationery
- Broadcast ads on radio or TV
- Direct mail
- Shop front
- Merchandising and packaging
- Face to face meetings
- Events and exhibitions
- Telephone campaigns
- Word of mouth
- Networking for referral partners
The popular marketing platforms in more detail
Decide what type of website works best to display your product or service to your audience. A brochure website includes a few pages with a design element, an e-commerce website includes the functionality for customers to make a purchase and a portal allows you to give access to certain areas with a log in code.
What is your call to action? The website is the final stop, the online shop front where people come to buy – but what does that ‘buy’ mean to you? Do you want your customer to contact you directly, download something, sign up, spend money, or place an order? It’s important that your customers know what you need them to do and how to do it easily.
Are you using the right keywords and has Google indexed your website pages? You may have the best website in the world, but it’s no use to you if search engines don’t know it’s there. Keyword optimisation and search engine optimisation are important so that people can find you. Indexing is important so that Google can find you.
There are lots of social channels out there, but that doesn’t mean you have to be on all of them all once! Remember your customer avatars and go where they expect you to be. Also bear in mind that social media doesn’t have a closing time like a shop, office or telephone line, so monitor and regulate your usage so it doesn’t take over your life!
When setting up and using social media, your keywords will also be effective. And don’t forget to add links to your pages on your website.
Your tone of voice on social media can be more relaxed than on your website, but a good rule of thumb is, if you wouldn’t say it in a business meeting, don’t say it online, even on Twitter…
Pay per click (PPC) ads and social media ads are an effective way to reach potential customers. We generally say that if they know you but haven’t bought, social media is best, and if they know their pain but don’t know you, search engine advertising is best. But again, refer to your tactical plan and choose the right mix for your customer.
TIP: I would advise getting an expert to help you with both of these advertising strategies. Paid ads are one of those things that could take you away from your true purpose of running the business.
I’ve included networking in marketing activities although it doesn’t fall into B2C tactics. This is because we use networking for many reasons throughout or business lives, not just to ‘sell to the room’. In a successful networking meeting you can meet advisors, suppliers, referral partners (people you share a customer base with), friends, mentors and last but not least, customers.
Be brave, be you and get out there!
Lastly – measure and tweak
Whichever tactics you employ for your marketing, have a reporting system where you can measure the effectiveness of each one. Can you make improvements or is it actually costing you more money than it makes you? Your marketing activities should be working for you, not the other way around. There’s help on setting a budget for marketing in my blog.
Marketing is a huge topic, which is why I cover it my podcast, YouTube videos and Knowledge Base. You may also find my free business e-books, 51 Ways to Win More Customers, and Creating a LinkedIn Profile to Stand Out, useful. Wishing you all the best with your marketing efforts, Mike.