Marketing Strategies: Top 5 Priorities

Effective marketing is an important part of your business strategy. Learn from a local expert about some simple ways to make your marketing efforts go further.

We know you’re busy. As a small-business owner, you wear a lot of hats: Vice President of Sales, Operations Manager, Finance Director, HR Associate and, last but not least, Grand Master of Marketing. Since you’re busy, we’d like to offer a quick list of five things you can do to make your marketing efforts (and dollars) go further.

1. Know your audience.

We believe that the best marketing and public relations campaigns say the right thing, to the right people, at the right time. Identifying your target audience (and recognizing that you cannot effectively be all things to all people) is a critical first step. Start with the 80/20 rule to identify your audience, by asking yourself, “What do 80 percent of my best customers have in common?” Once you define those attributes, begin tailoring your communications and delivering your message to the customers you want to reach.

2. Network like crazy.

Word-of-mouth is still one of the most powerful tools available to marketers. Work your network to ensure that friends, colleagues, partners, vendors and current customers are sharing your capabilities with potential customers. Ask your contacts for a referral to a company or person with whom you would like to do business or connect. If your relationship is strong, the answer will be a resounding and quick “yes.”

3. Be consistent. And repeat yourself, again.

They say the average consumer has to hear a message seven times before he or she can repeat it back. Think of all of the “touch points” you have with potential customers, and make sure the message is consistent for each.

4. Make sure your website is effective.

Research shows that most people start a purchase or begin making a service provider decision online (reports vary, but the figure is usually cited between 80 and 90 percent). So, your online presence is critical. Evaluate your content and graphics, and make sure they are consistent with other marketing efforts. Consider the way a potential customer searches for products/services and make sure your “virtual front door” (website home page) has content that aligns with your goals. Simplify your navigation so that the most important pieces of information are no more than three clicks into the site. If it isn’t already, optimize your site for mobile devices.

5. You don’t have to do it all, but you have to do it well.

Today’s marketers have a number of vehicles they can use to communicate. Traditional marketing like ad buys, marketing collateral, tradeshows and websites are now coupled with newer options, including social media, digital marketing and search engine optimization.
Small businesses could spend all day, every day, creating, distributing and managing content. The good news is that you don’t have to do it all. However, whatever you take on, you have to do well to get a decent return on investment. If social media makes sense for you, post regularly and interact with fans and followers. If you invest in search engine optimization (SEO), track and manage your success, making adjustments as necessary. If you are going to a tradeshow, actively work the floor and schedule yourself for coffee, lunch and dinner meetings throughout the event.
The marketing landscape is changing faster than you can tweet 140 characters, but these five fundamentals will help you to focus your efforts and craft a strategy that makes the most of the time and budget you have available.
Rebecca Epperson is President and CEO of PR Etc., a marketing and public relations firm celebrating 12 years in business.