Your 10 minute marketing plan

view from horseback of a dusty trail following other riders

Recently a friend mentioned that she relied only on word-of-mouth to promote her business, and maybe she needed to try something more. I offered to give her some ideas. After I finished writing, I thought this might be useful for other people, too.

This is kind of a paper napkin marketing plan—that cliche of business. It’s the basics, quick and dirty. There is lots of information available, and you can ask me, too.

I view marketing as common sense, but from the point of view of the people you are trying to attract. When we get outside our own assumptions, jargon, embarrassment about talking about what we love to do, or however we cut ourselves off from communicating with potential clients or people who might know potential clients, there is lots of room to experiment and explore appealing ways to reach out to and attract people to learn about what we do.

First, understand that each element of your marketing has a job that it is designed to do. You’ll be frustrated if you expect it to do more than it’s job.

If I go someplace to meet potential clients, I feel successful if I leave with some new contacts to follow up with. I don’t usually get hired from a first conversation unless I’m introduced by someone we both know, and there is also a current need.

Knowing what you want your marketing efforts to do will help you in planning them, and also to understand whether or not they succeed.

Second, who are the people you want to work with? Where can you find them? For example, horse people are on Facebook (I’m not saying everyone has to be on Facebook, just an example) so someone wanting to reach horse people will spend time posting on Facebook, making friends and commenting on Facebook, etc.

Are you offering your intended people something they care about? Knowing the people you want to reach helps you communicate with them about their concerns, enables you to make it about them.

Third, reach out. The idea is to let people know you’re there and what you do. Next, give them opportunities to get to know you and/or what you are offering. A free introductory evening or day of discovery is the idea here. After that, you communicate with them regularly so that over time they grow to trust you and want to hire you. This can be summarized as: people need to know, like and trust you before they’ll hire you.

To return to point #1 again, understanding what your effort is for helps you evaluate its effectiveness, and what else you might need to be doing. Offering introductory events without doing follow up communication is missing the know, like and trust journey people need to take with you.

Do you need to become better known? How can you introduce yourself to more people? Write an article that will be published where your people will see it. Then share the article in an email (and on social media) to the people who already know and like you. Speak to groups who include the people you want to reach. Be sure to have a next step they can take such as an introductory event. Create your own event just for you or with complimentary businesses—that way you are cross selling to each others’ mailing lists. Cold calling is usually last on everyone’s list, but I have done it with some success offering a freebie to get my foot in the barn, so to speak.

It is good to have an up-to-date website in the sense of technology and an accurate reflection of what your business is doing now. An email newsletter doesn’t have to be long, and is still valid, though many are migrating away from it. The point of the newsletter is to repeatedly make contact, where you say hello, offer something they could do with you, and maybe offer other information that is useful to them that has nothing to do with you (the 80/20 rule is good here.) This is the part where over time you become trusted through repeated contacts.

The main point is to do something. You want to show the universe energetically what you want to have happen. I regard marketing as including a certain amount of trial and error—even for a mature company—because something is always changing: the economy, a new competitor, or something that solves the same problem in an alternative way.

Try one thing at a time and see what happens. Ask and keep track of where all your new clients come from to see if you can fan the flames somewhere. But mostly, keep trying things. It’s like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. I tried something last year a couple of times, and the time of year seemed to drive how well it worked. I am going to try it again this year, and will be trying to refine it!

I hope this has given you the framework to think about how you market your business. If you keep trying, and are willing to try things outside your comfort zone (and I don’t just mean cold calling!), you will discover what works for your business, your audience of potential clients or customers. You’ll be able to “rinse and repeat” as needed while also refining it as you go.

I wish you much success!

Here are a few other posts from this blog that could support your marketing planning adventures!

Marketing toolkit

Do-it-yourself marketing audit

10 ways to position yourself as an expert

12 ways to create curb appeal for your business

It’s all about the experience

3 (and a half) reasons to know your target audience

Getting to know your target audience pays off


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