How To Develop Effective, Affordable Marketing Strategies For Small and Medium-Sized Businesses That Drive Growth, pt. 2

by Eddie Reeves on March 15, 2010

This post concludes our two-part series on developing an effective, efficient and affordable small business marketing strategy.  Last time, we discussed the overall importance of having a cogent, consistent strategy.  This time, we hone in on the components of the action plan to execute that strategy.

Once you have honestly and earnestly addressed the strategic elements outlined last time, you can then turn to the specific actions that will spur the business growth that you seek.  A strong marketing plan must have specific actions, target dates and task assignments, along with a regular review process to ensure that you are achieving the intended benefits.

Be pragmatic.  Do the things that give the biggest “bang for the buck” first, but also do some things that position you for the longer term.  For instance, while it may be way-cool to spend a few hours per day growing your Twitter followers and Facebook friends, if your business is a local caterer, the majority of that time might be better spent becoming a leader in your local chamber of commerce or joining a few small business networking groups.

There are some basic marketing building blocks that any entity needs to have in place in order to attract customers. These will vary in detail according to the type of business, but the basics that just about any small concern need are as follows:

  • – a cleanly-designed and compelling website and a system for making sure it stays up-to-date
  • – a system to constantly gauge the wants and needs of your overall target market
  • – a system for gaining regular feedback from your existing customers
  • – a system for constantly monitoring and driving down the cost of your product or service wile simultaneously driving up the quality
  • – a system for “replicating” yourself so that your business can grow beyond your personal efforts

Notice anything about these points?  Yep, it’s all about having systems — simple, regular, repeatable steps that you take over and over.  It’s the devotion to these systems that not only make your business grow, but that actually make it a business and not a hobby.

So, why don’t all small-to-medium-sized businesses do these things?

According to them it’s because of lack of time, lack of money or being consumed with more important things.

All of those excuses are, in a word, stupid.

In a smaller business, everyone is always busy. There is never enough time or money to make it easy to step back, think and plan, but that is exactly why thinking and planning is all-important.  Yes, it’s great —  and necessary — to have a bias for action, but If you don’t regularly engage in the mental work of marketing and managing your business, you will lose your focus, lose your edge and, ultimately, lose your customers.

And once that happens, guess what else you’ve lost?  Yep, your business.

You must have a set of basic measures to gauge how the business is doing, and, specifically, how your marketing is doing. You need to ask not simply whether you have money in the bank, or inventory on your shelves, but consider other criteria as well, such as how many prospects am I attracting per unit of effort? How many people am I converting from suspect to prospect, and then from prospect to customer or client?

Select a small number of metrics and track them regularly. Keep it simple so you don’t have the excuse that it is too hard and time consuming to measure. Review regularly and change tactics if things don’t work out after they have had a decent chance to deliver results.

Those small and medium-sized businesses which approach marketing their businesses in this kind of systematic, strategic manner will position themselves to enjoy truly exceptional levels of growth and success well into the future.

The simple truth is that marketing works – if you work it.

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