6 Ways to Fix Your Lousy Marketing Plan

Savvy customers won’t fall for your old-school advertising tactics. It’s time to embrace change.
6 Ways to Fix Your Lousy Marketing Plan
If your phone isn’t ringing off the hook, it’s probably because your marketing sucks.

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Some companies spend years developing their business — investing in equipment, systems, and people — and then expect the world to naturally appreciate (and purchase) their products and services. 

The truth is that consumers are savvier than ever and they know they have a choice in whom they do business with. That’s where marketing comes in. It’s how your company introduces itself to potential buyers and lets them know you have the goods and benefits they need. A good marketing plan adds to company profitability. 

A business will not survive without marketing, but it’s one area that managers and owners struggle to understand thoroughly and thus plan and execute well. Lack of time or expertise and an inability to settle on the best media options can all lead to a failed marketing campaign. What business owners and managers do understand is the importance of good planning, and marketing, like so many other aspects of business, needs a good plan to be effective. 

A successful marketing campaign is your strategy to market products and services to a target audience. Here are six steps for creating a successful marketing strategy: 

Step 1: What makes your company unique?

Consider how the equipment and services that your company offers differ from your competition. What choices do you offer that the competition does not? How does the quality of the services you provide compare? What are the reasons a customer may choose to do business with you among the available choices in the marketplace? The things that differentiate your company form your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). 

Developing a USP might include a discovery process to learn what the competition is doing and how your offerings compare in the eyes of the buyer. For example, there is commonly a set of circumstances that result in a customer needing to call for emergency plumbing services.

Those circumstances influence what a customer wants in a solution: Is fast and cheap the major concern or does the customer want quality equipment and consistent service? It’s important to understand what motivates the customer to buy. 

Identifying the circumstances and the key buying criteria used in those situations will help you develop selling points for promotional materials. Your USP sets you apart from the competition and is critical to marketing success. 

Step 2: Who’s doing the buying?

Define the target audience. For instance, very few individuals call to schedule plumbing installation for a new construction project. That’s usually done by a building contractor or project manager, which means a targeted approach is required. 

Pinpointing the right demographic — whether you’re reaching the project manager of a new construction site or homebuilder and home design groups — with a targeted marketing strategy is important to advertising effectiveness. 

Step 3: What are the benefits of doing business with your company?

A company must understand how the “benefits” it sells improves the customer’s situation. Every product or services has features and benefits. Features are facts about a product or service, but they do little to entice a customer to buy. A benefit solves a problem, meets a need, satisfies a requirement, or fulfills an emotional desire for the customer. It is the reason a customer buys. 

Consider for example, a plumbing company that invests in high-end fixtures, faucets and garbage disposals. The client benefits from these options, or features, which ultimately creates a better user experience. The customer also gains the intangible benefit of peace-of-mind that their plumbing fixtures will last long term. A thorough evaluation of products and services is critical to clearly identify specific benefits. Those become the key selling points in the marketing strategy. 

What is more, an interactive website enables customers to view, shop and inquire about services 24/7, which benefits those who work late or prefer digital communication. 

Step 4: Where do your customers shop for your services?

Your media campaign should strategically target buyers in the right location within the right timeframe. There are several forms of media to consider for a marketing campaign to do exactly that — print marketing, the Internet, direct mail, decals on equipment, or social media to name a few. 

Finding out where your customers are getting their information is a practical place to begin. Cisco reported in a recent press release that 78 percent of all shoppers use the Internet to purchase and research products and services. Businesses today need to understand the importance of an Internet presence in a marketing strategy so they can be “present” for buyers at all times. 

Step 5: Execute a plan

Asking the questions in Steps 1 through 4 help shape the strategy of a good marketing campaign. With a clear USP, a defined target demographic, specific benefits to promote and the media locations narrowed down, the marketing strategy is nearly complete. 

The next step is execution. You need to outline company goals for attracting new customers, a specific timeline to accomplish goals, and the specific media that will reach the target market. In addition, the plan should include ways to measure the results within a defined budget. Marketing is an investment. Spend wisely by investing the time and effort creating a good strategy. 

Step 6: Inspect what you expect

The reality is that a marketing campaign is never really finished. It evolves with the company, the marketplace, the competition, and the demand for goods and services. Therefore, the plan must be continually monitored and regularly updated to optimize results. 

Your marketing plan is a living document. Revisit your plan at least once every quarter to evaluate if goals are on target or if revisions are needed. Tracking initial response rates is only the first step. If responses aren’t translating to a bump in the bottom line, your marketing dollars may be spent in vain.

Essentially, marketing efforts should increase profits. If you’re getting crappy results, then you need to revise your crappy strategy. Continue to track what is working and adjust what isn’t getting the proper results. The aim is to understand the customer better, to target your messaging more thoroughly, and to earn more business. That’s what a well-planned, well-executed marketing campaign can do for you. 

About the Author

Beverly Lewis runs a marketing agency, the Beverly Lewis Group, dedicated to helping small businesses with marketing solutions. Having served as the director of sales & marketing for two portable sanitation companies, her unique background combined with an expertise in marketing is well suited for the portable sanitation industry.

She believes that a company’s image is represented in every aspect of the company. Contact Beverly at beverly@beverlylewisgroup.com or visit www.beverlylewisgroup.com.


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