I wrote “Stop Using Social Media Now…Without a Plan” blog in February of 2012. Since then it became very clear to me that many businesspeople do not have a marketing plan for themselves or their businesses. They “wing it” in terms of social media marketing and they continue to market without a method to track effectiveness or cost (time and money).
In today’s competitive marketplace people need to use their time, energy and resources effectively. The business and marketing paradigm has changed. Without a plan you are at a competitive disadvantage right from the start.
It is not only the time to rethink your marketing efforts but the time to make sure you have a viable program in place. If you do have a marketing plan, it’s time to revisit it. What’s been working? What has not been working? Social media marketing and the overall digital media marketing activities need to be examined and new strategies implemented.
If you have never had a marketing plan, it would be wise to create one. In addition to Digital Ethos there are many free resources online that talk about marketing plans for businesses. Check out the National Federation of Independent Business http://www.nifb.com and the United States Small Business Administration www.sba.gov for ideas and information.
Your time is precious. Don’t waste it. Whether your business has one employee, 50 employees or 500, you need a marketing plan to establish goals for business growth. The plan should outline the strategies you want to implement and the vehicles you need to use to reach your target audiences. Include social media, but don’t focus 100 percent on it. A plan that includes traditional marketing methods that has a mix of direct mail, SEO, networking, website, public speaking, advertising, networking and/or trade shows along with select social media vehicles will be most effective.
A marketing plan should be based on specific short- term and long- term goals for your business. For example, a short- term goal to improve branding might be to update your logo or create a tagline for your website and other social media vehicles as well as print materials. This refreshed look will attract the attention of prospects as well as current customers.
When analyzing your marketing efforts, determine if social media efforts are delivering an ROI. If not, look to other digital media possibilities, such as email blasts, direct mail with QR codes or personalized URLs. Know the mind-set of your target audiences and your clients when exploring these options and consider how they will react to your marketing methods. Do you want to use a soft marketing or passive approach? Do you want to use a direct approach, one in which you seek a response to an offer of some type. Regardless, you must have a plan in place to make the effort worthwhile.
Let’s look at three traditional forms of marketing, each still viable in today’s marketplace, that if combined with social media tools, can improve the effectiveness of your marketing effort.
1. Trade Shows
Trade shows offer an excellent forum for meeting face to face with contacts and prospects. Within your marketing plan include a trade show program with these three basic sections recommended by Trade Show Advisor www.trade-show-advisor.com
- Pre-Show Marketing,
- During Show Marketing,
- Post-Show Marketing and follow up.
You’ve must aggressively market to prospects before they arrive, fully engage them during the show, and promptly follow-up with them after the show to generate additional sales.
It is important to note: 80% of exhibitors do not follow up on sales leads they collect at trade shows. Many do not have a self-working system in place to consistently and automatically follow up with prospects and stay in touch with customers on a regular basis. http://www.growingmybiz.com/images/Trade_Show_Follow_Up_Article.pdf
2. Direct Mail. Everyone and every business still have mail boxes and people do look at their mail. There are many new ways to generate sales leads today, but direct mail remains one of the most powerful lead-generation tools.
Even successful online businesses are discovering that direct mail is essential for growth, since newer marketing tactics, such as SEO, social media, and email marketing, often have limitations because of the rapidly changing rules and technical issues involved.
Direct mail allows you to reach individuals, firms and the target audiences you identify. If you place one of the ugly black QR Code boxes (quick response) on your marketing materials you may be able to get more mileage out of this tried and true effort. Use QR Codes to drive people to videos, social media sites and websites – they can even dial your phone number. Consider using QRs to make your print documents come alive and connect with mobile device users. While QR codes have not been super popular, they are catching on with more and more smartphone users. Data shows that almost 50 percent of all American adults own a smartphone. Study show that over 100 million Smartphone users are projected by 2013. This will no doubt increase the use of QR codes significantly http://www.foliomag.com/2012/study-over-100-million-smartphone-users-projected-2013
3. Networking – Face to face relationship building still works. People prefer to do business with people they know, like and trust and they get to know you through networking.
According to the website Businessballs.com business networking is an effective low-cost marketing method for developing sales opportunities and contacts, based on referrals and introductions – either face-to-face at meetings and gatherings, or by other contact methods such as phone, email, and increasingly social and business networking websites. http://www.businessballs.com/business-networking.htm
Whether a CEO of a large company or a sole practitioner accountant, you are already networking to some degree. Networking events are meant to facilitate business and professional relationships. In order to get the most out of these events it is best to have a networking plan within a marketing plan. You do need to devise how you are going to meet and interact with new business contacts and grow these relationships.
LinkedIn is an excellent digital means for business-minded people to network effectively and to foster relationships. Small businesses or individuals can use LinkedIn to tell their story, gain exposure, and create or enhance their business or personal brand, and be connected with hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals. Card Munch, a business card scanner app on smart phones produced by LinkedIn, is another way to immediately capture contact information and connect with people and begin business relationships.
To develop an effective marketing plan the elements which are appropriate for you to include will largely depend on your particular industry and circumstances. However, you must be eager to explore ideas and be willing to implement new approaches to create a marketing plan that will not end up wasting your time and energy but instead will generate the ROI that you expect. Don’t procrastinate; begin to develop your business marketing plan today. Remember, many of your competitors have marketing plans and they are using them to go after your clients and business prospects.
About Bill Corbett Jr.
This article is provided by Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations, Inc., a leading media relations, social media and personal branding consulting firm. For more information, go to corbettpr.com or to his blog corbettprblog.com. He can be reached at email@example.com or @wjcorbett.