It’s Not Easy Out Here for a Business Person!
Marketing plans made simple is definitely an oxymoron if I ever seen one. There is nothing easy about marketing and promoting a business. There are so many layers to these activities we can spend weeks and months talking about this topic. But in this post, I will highlight that we have a plan and with that plan we are driving activities and measuring outcomes. We’re not going to focus on what activities to do here (that is a whole other conversation which requires a lot more time) but how to organize and track them.
Who Should Market?
Most of us are small studios, operating on even smaller budgets. We can’t sink lots of dollars into things that don’t work AND we don’t have the money to hire someone with the skills to really market and promote our businesses effectively. In addition, how many of us can put money into marketing to larger audiences, like running a television commercial? Not many.
Because of these things, using all the marketing forces available to you is very important. Who makes up your sales force? I know. I just told everyone we don’t have money to hire people, right? Well, if you can’t hire specific people, then who can become your sales force? The people you already have around you: instructors, students, networks, friends, family, vendors, and anyone else you can recruit! I’m always surprised to hear so many instructors tell me they don’t have to market because their studio does it for them. This is a loss both for the instructor and the studio. Also, even if an instructor isn’t promoting on outside channels, they are your sales people in the class room. Leverage every audience you have!
Take this Test…
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to see where you are in the market planning scale.
- Can you pull out your plan and see what you have to work on at any given time period? – Do you have your activities documented? Do you know what marketing and promoting activities you have to do this week, this month, next quarter, or through the end of the year?
- How much of a marketing budget do you have set aside each month and how did you determine that budget? – You must understand how much you can spend on marketing and promotions and where/how you plan to spend that money.
- How do you know or how can you tell if a marketing activity went well? – Throwing money at something that doesn’t work is the worst thing you can do when you don’t have money to waste. But to understand whether something went well or not you must put measurements in place before starting the campaign. You need to understand what success looks like and how you plan to track it. This is the part most businesses struggle with, following up and monitoring the success of implementing something.
- Do you have people assigned and responsible for each activity in your plan? – You must understand who drives each activity. If you’re running a social media campaign for a new class, who will promote this class? Are they all engaged and understand what you need them to do? Remember — you can’t do everything. You need to enlist others to help and figure out what is best delegated to a person better suited to do the task. For me, it was outsourcing creation of promotional materials. While I’m decent at creating flyers and working with graphics, my time and energy is better spent elsewhere.
A Bit of Organization Goes a Long Way
While there are a lot of components to successful marketing and promotions activities, the first step is to identify and plan your activities. I suggest making a plan for the year, and at the very least look at your activities on a quarter or a monthly basis. I plan mine for the year so I can estimate a budget and then I re-evaluate on a quarterly and monthly basis, making changes as needed.
When you understand the activities you want to do, then start identifying how much money needs to be in your marketing budget. You should allocate money to the each of the activities and understand what kind of return you want from that campaign. Are you looking for more “Likes” on your Facebook page? How many students do you need to sign up for class to make your marketing dollars worthwhile? What specific marketing effort got them to sign up? The answers to these questions will help you decide if you want to run this campaign again, get rid of it, or modify it.
Use your systems to help you track. Many of our scheduling systems, QuickBooks or bookkeeping systems, Facebook, and contact management systems have things in place to help you track your activities. When you set up a new campaign, make sure there is a way to track where leads, new clients, and purchases are coming from. I spend my time setting up and analyzing the results of my activities and NOT designing flyers . These activities are where my money really comes from. Understand how to use your time effectively and efficiently!
Although I can’t give you a “magic marketing box,” I hope this gives you some things to think about in the way you currently market your business. Once you set up the basics, then you are ready to delve into more complex marketing techniques to increase sales and target your ideal customer.