Marketing Basics: A starting Point

Whether you are starting a small business on your own, or you have assumed a leadership role within an organization – marketing is an essential part of any business; no matter what it is you do. Several years ago, I started a new position and on my second or third day, I sat down with some of the leadership team and casually asked “what is our marketing plan?” Blank stares…confused looks…cricket, cricket. I soon realized that they had operated under the mentality of “if you build it, they will come.” That may have worked in Field of Dreams, but in reality, you have to make it happen.

Creating a marketing plan can seem a bit overwhelming, especially if you don’t already have something to start with. Panic will ensue, stress levels will go up, and then, the mere thought of putting together this marketing plan will have you in hives. Then the idea is scrapped and the decision to revisit at a later time is made. Then you move onto the next item on the list. But, it doesn’t have to be that way! Embrace the concept and before you put your pen to paper, keep these ideas in mind, as they will help guide you through the process and ultimately help you create that oh so magnificent marketing plan!

•Step 1: Identifying Your Marketing Need/Outcome: What is it you are trying to do, and what do you want the outcome to be? Be specific – don’t give generalities: Increase referrals by net 4, NOT just increase referrals.
•Step 2: Developing a Marketing Action Plan : Outline the specific actions you intend to carry out. This is your road map. Be sure to include your strategies or goals: this will tell you where you want to go.
•Step 3: Identify Key Staff: Create that marketing culture within the organization. Everyone has a (different) role in the process. Don’t assume you need to do it all yourself. Figure out the key staff who can help implement the plan.
•Step 4: Call to Action: This is a statement designed to get an immediate response from the person reading or hearing it. Basically – this is your ASK! Don’t assume people know what you want. Tell them.
•Step 5: Marketing Materials: You need to have some type of material: website, email signature, business card, brochure, overview flier, etc. Not tech savvy? Hire a freelance graphic designer (I use one!)
•Step 6: Relationship Building: Relationships are vital to the success of your business. You need to build trust with potential referral sources. Regular and consistent follow up (but don’t be a nag!) builds that trust.
•Step 7: Tracking Your Efforts: Don’t you want to know if the efforts you are putting in are working? Develop a simple tracking mechanism so you can easily tell if your work is paying off, or if you need to make some adjustments.

There you have it. A simple framework to developing a marketing plan. It truly is a formula. Stick to the formula and your results will pay off. Remember, it takes time, effort, energy, and dedication to pull this off. It won’t just magically happen all on its own. Don’t boil the ocean, boil a kettle.

Still feeling like you need someone to help you out. Contact Harpeth Consultant Advisory Group to discuss your needs and how we can help.

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