Piecing Your Marketing Plan Together

Provided By Linda Lutz, The Cleveland Women’s Journal

Many business owners today are overwhelmed about how to increase their market share using different types of media. I like to refer to this as a “puzzle” because each business is different in what will work for them and what is best for their business. Just because one business is using a person standing on the street with a sign doesn’t mean the same tactic will work for you. Effective marketing is vital to the success of any business, whether it is a one-person or a Fortune 500 company. The driving force for every revenue dollar is marketing.

Imagine if I gave you a bag of puzzle pieces and asked you to put them together. What would help you? Maybe if I gave you a picture of the finished puzzle you would be able to put it together.  In other words, you need to know what you are trying to accomplish in order to plan how to get there. By putting your own puzzle together and by planning what the result would look like is your marketing plan. Most of it really goes back to your business plan. What is your one year, five year and ten year vision?

Whom are you trying to target? Are you developing your brand and identifying your competitors?  What are your advantages in the marketplace? Your message must capture attention and identify problems, needs and wants. You must also describe your product or service; tell them the benefits and value. Your message must give credibility and include a “call to action.” Before you begin investing money in your marketing efforts, be sure you take the time to define what you want your final picture to look like. Then you can begin solving your puzzle one piece at a time.

There is also confusion between many terms (puzzle pieces) that are used in marketing. The following may help explain the differences.

Advertising.

Reaching a target audience through a particular medium; putting an ad in The Cleveland Women’s Journal or your local newspaper, a storefront sign, radio ad or direct mail.

Branding.

Your brand is the source of a promise to your consumer and is intended to identify the goods and services of one seller to differentiate them from other sellers. If you write articles in our magazine, consistently use the same logo/ad while delivering your message clearly, confirm your credibility with testimonials, and connect your target market emotionally, you are building a brand. It’s a foundational piece in your marketing puzzle.

Public Relations.

Once you have created your brand, you need to get your message to the public. Examples may include press releases, letters to the editor, seminars or speaking engagements. The Cleveland Women’s Journal sponsors many local non-profit events; this is the public relations piece of our marketing.

Social Media.

Network by attending your local chamber meetings or industry events. Your website is really an electronic brochure; you must optimize your site. Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin give you opportunities to market your brand. The Cleveland Women’s Journal uses these tools and its online digital version to connect with readers.

These are just several pieces  of the puzzle; in reality, “marketing” is anything and everything you do to attract, engage, retain or motivate customers and it encompasses everything that in anyway impacts the customer experience, at any touch point.  And therefore, everyone within your company is “in” marketing.

By cultivating a customer-centric mindset, a “marketing mindset” if you will, everything affects the customer perception about your business, for better or for worse.

If you’re ready to use all of these methods and build an organization where each member of your team seeks to provide the best possible experience for customers at each and every touch point, Hurrah!  You get it!  Take time to revisit the mission and vision of your company. Working with staff, create a customer bill of rights and ask staff members to commit to upholding it.  Make sure that each member of your team understands how the role that they play impacts the customer experience and how it specifically works toward fulfillment of your corporate mission and vision statement.  Tie incentives and evaluations to the customer experience. Solicit customer feedback. Embrace change and continuous improvement.

Remember Marketing is Everything and Everything is Marketing!

PDFPDF – Piecing Your Marketing Plan Together