316-223-1921

Build your marketing program as if you were building a house

September 16, 2019

Building a house is a process – there are specific steps that need to be completed in a specific order to ensure that the house is a solid structure capable of standing up to time, weather, and everyday living.  Building a marketing and advertising program for your small business is very similar – there are four distinct steps that need to be taken so that your business stands up over time.  The good news is that, unlike building a house, you can go back and fix any of the steps in your marketing program you may have missed along the way without the whole thing falling down!  Let’s take a look at each step in the process:

START WITH A GOOD SET OF PLANS

Every small business should have three plans:  a Business Plan, a Marketing Plan (that is separate from your Business Plan), and a Budget.  Unless you are seeking bank or investment funding, these plans do not need to be massive, minutely detailed documents.  They can and should be used as a tool for you, the owner, to lay out your vision for the business, your short and long term goals, the action steps you will need to take in order to achieve your goals, and how much money you will need to allocate toward achieving those goals. 

  • Your BUSINESS PLAN includes your company description, the products and services you provide, how your company will be managed and operated, an analysis of your competitors, a summary of your marketing plan, a sales forecast, and a cash flow forecast.
  • Your MARKETING PLAN provides a detailed description of your products and services, your target market, your company sales goals, the tools and strategies you will use to accomplish your goals, how much you will spend to implement the tools and strategies, the detailed action steps necessary to implement the plan and who will be responsible for accomplishing them, and a calendar with your month-by month plan of communications, activities, events, campaigns, and deadlines.
  • Your BUDGET should include your sales forecast, cost of goods sold, operating expenses, payroll, insurance, licenses, equipment expense, capital purchases, debt service, and marketing/advertising.  Putting your marketing and advertising costs into your budget is a commitment to making the investment to grow your business – not an afterthought! 

LAY A SOLID FOUNDATION

A solid foundation for your marketing program includes five (5) elements:  your logo, brand standard, website, social media profiles, and business collaterals. These are the items that make your program stand strong across all of your strategies, campaigns, events, printed materials, media, apparel, and promotional products.  It is your company identity and usually the first impression a prospect has of your company. 

  • LOGO.  If you have a logo for your business, you should also have a Logo Suite.  Simply defined, a Logo Suite is your logo in all of the various file formats needed to ensure that it can be used in all of the ways you will need it:  print, digital, web, desktop publishing, and embroidery.  You should have both color and black and white versions in each format.  You should also have both a horizontal and vertical (stacked) variations.
  • BRAND STANDARD.  This is a document that details how your logo is to be used, the font(s) that you will use, and all of the color specifications associated with your logo.  Make sure you define your colors in the following ways:  PMS, CMYK, RGB, and Hex/HTML (web).  If you use logoed apparel in your business, your Brand Standard should also specify thread colors to be used.
  • WEBSITE.  In today’s online world, any business that does not have a website does not exist.  It is the basis for all of the search engines.  Your website does not have to be complicated – a simple landing page that explains what you do, who you do it for, and how to contact you is a good way to get started.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES.  Your business should have at least two (2) social media profiles, one of them being a Google My Business verified listing.  Make sure that your social media profiles are set up to match your Brand Standard and that they link to your website to establish a good online presence.
  • BUSINESS COLLATERALS.  Your business collaterals include business cards, letterhead, envelopes, thank you cards, business forms (proposals, invoices, statements, etc.), and your email signature.  These items should all be consistent with your Brand Standard.

BUILD YOUR FRAMEWORK

Think of your framework as all of the elements you will need to build your house.  Make sure everything you do incorporates your brand and shows your company in the best possible light.  Included in your framework are:

  • SALES MATERIALS.  Brochures, flyers, product sheets, presentation folders, direct mail pieces, yard signs, etc.
  • MARKETING TOOLS.  These are the things you use to generate new business and communicate with your customers and prospects:  email marketing, newsletters, trade shows, offers, free downloads, VIP programs, speaking engagements/presentations, networking, professional memberships, and video are all tools that you can use to market your business.
  • ADVERTISING.  As part of the planning process, you will have identified your ideal customer; choosing the right advertising medium to reach those people is part of your framework.  There are many, many choices – radio, television, billboards, digital (online), direct mail, coupons, newspaper, and magazines are the big ones.  If you are uncomfortable handling this part of your business, consider hiring an agency – they can often get better pricing than buying direct and a can help you navigate the many choices available.
  • LEAD MANAGEMENT.  The #1 complaint consumers have is that they can’t get someone to call them back or respond to an email / website inquiry in a timely manner.  Part of your framework needs to be a procedure for how you will handle leads and prospects at each stage of the sales process.  If you do not currently use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool, there are many affordable options for every size business.  Consider having a single person in your company who is responsible for managing leads, updating your sales funnel, and making sure that all communications are completed in a timely manner. 

ADD THE FINISHING TOUCHES

Finishing touches are the things that make your house a home, so to speak.  Your house won’t fall down if you don’t have these things, but when you can afford them, you should incorporate them!   Included would be things like promotional products and apparel, but should also include things like your building exterior signage, parking lot and landscaping, your showroom or lobby area (any place that customers are allowed to be in), vehicle graphics, and client gifts.  Incorporate your brand colors and your business personality into these items to further grow your customer and prospect relationships.

Overwhelmed? Don't be! Chances are you already have most of this done - somewhere. Take the time to organize your thoughts, put it in writing, and share it with your team so that everyone is one the same page!

To your success!

Laura

P.S. If you are a small business owner (or want to be one), whether you are just starting out, or have been in business for awhile, I hope you will become part of the Next Level family.  Visit our website (www.nxtlevel.baselinedev.com) or check out our Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/NextLevelAd) for tips, tools, and resources to help grow your business.  We now have a Facebook Group, Next Level U, for those who are interested in joining a private community of small business owners and marketers.

Some of the links in this publication are Affiliate Links, meaning that – at no additional cost to you – Next Level Advertising may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.  Please know that when you see an Affiliate link from NLA it is for a product or service that we use ourselves or that we have thoroughly researched and reviewed!

Laura Olson-Oxley is an entrepreneur, coach, speaker, marketing and business consultant, and sales professional. She has over 25 years of experience working with small businesses in a variety of industries, focusing on strategic business growth through effective marketing and advertising. Also a strategist, numbers nut, project manager, and life-long learner, Laura looks at the big picture to analyze and recommend the most effective tools to take businesses to the Next Level.

Join My Group:

Read More Blog Posts

Why Is the Money in the List?

Research shows that businesses typically see $42 in profit for every $1 spent on emails. This means that a mailing list is one of the most profitable business assets that you can develop.

Read More
Making the Case for Email Marketing

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of email marketing. There is so much that you can do with emails that you simply cannot do with other forms of marketing or advertising. It is the perfect way to deliver the right message, to the right people, at the right time. There is no better […]

Read More
8 Effective Ways to Market Your Small Business Online Without Spending Money

As we all know, marketing our business to potential customers is a necessary part of having a successful business. Marketing for small businesses can be especially tricky as budgets often do not allow for large scale and more expensive strategies. The issue with traditional advertising, such as newspaper, radio, and television ads, is that they […]

Read More
How to Boost Your Marketing with Customer Recommendations

Use these strategies to build an online community of advocates for your brand who will sing your praises to others and multiply your marketing efforts.

Read More
20 Low Budget Marketing Tactics You Can Use Now to Get Results

Did you know that you can do marketing like the pros without breaking the bank? By leveraging some effective low-cost digital marketing tactics, any business no matter how small can spread brand awareness, generate leads, and make more sales. You don’t need a big marketing budget to have a big impact. Here are 20 low-cost […]

Read More
Market Like a Huge Brand Without a Huge Budget

Small business marketing doesn't have to be expensive: if you engage with your audience effectively and provide high-value content, you can achieve all your business goals just like the big companies do.

Read More
Why You Need A Solid SEO Strategy And A Way To Measure Results

Trying to get traffic to your website without a plan is a bit like driving around with a vague destination in mind, but no directions on how to get there.

Read More
5 Powerful Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Website - Without Breaking The Bank!

You can build the most beautiful website in the world, but if no one visits your site, it really isn't doing you any good.

Read More
5 Tips for a Winning Website

Your website should be the cornerstone of your marketing program. To make your site work for you, remember that every visitor is a potential client.

Read More
Email: Give Them What They Want - And How To Find Out What That Is

Effective marketing boils down to this: Find an audience, figure out what they need or want and then deliver it. Email is one of the best mediums to help you do just that. And it isn’t always about selling them on a product. In fact, that isn’t at all where you want to start. First […]

Read More
1 2 3

Proud Member of:

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram