Many small businesses are busy with day-to-day activities with no time left over to create a marketing plan to follow. Well, summer is a great time to put together a plan that will help build your company’s image and provide guidelines for marketing your business for the second half of 2006.
Step 1: Determine Your Value Proposition
What makes you better and more valuable to your customers than the competition? What is your major selling advantage? How do you solve the problems facing your customers? Write down the answers to these questions, then write a summary of them. Try to narrow in on your value proposition until it is a concise statement of 1 or 2 sentences.
Step 2: Create a Brand Identity for Your Business
All of your marketing and promotional materials should have a consistent look and feel, and also have a consistent message. Logos are important; if you don’t have one, consider having a professional create one for you. Also think about coming up with a tag line or slogan.
Step 3: Develop Your Web Site
It is an expectation today that even small businesses have a company web site. Visitors must be able to quickly find information about your company, where it is located, and how to contact you for more information. It’s okay to start small and add features and content as your business grows, but make sure you have a professional, useful web site available as soon as you can.
Step 4: Create a Marketing Kit
We are all familiar with the standard “leave-behind” brochure, but for small businesses it can be an expensive investment that becomes outdated very quickly. A more useful approach may be to create a marketing “kit” as an alternative. Try using a regular manila file folder with a color label on it that has your company name, logo, and slogan. Then add an introduction letter, a data sheet of products and services, a press release, a short biography or history, a current company newsletter, and any other collateral that makes sense for your business. This way, your information is “file-cabinet-ready” instead of ready for the “circular file,” making it more likely to be read and saved.
Step 5: Promote and Advertise
Map out a plan to do something each week (or month) to help promote your business. Send out press releases, sponsor community events, and place ads in local newspapers or industry magazines. It takes approximately six impressions before a customer will begin to remember your company and what it does. Be creative – think of ways to be visible and active in your community, and don’t forget to look for opportunities on the web, too. If you need some online promotion ideas, check out the March 2006 issue of Biz Talk (available in our archives).