Building a business without a marketing plan is like going to the grocery without a list. You’ll end up throwing money away on things that aren’t good for you and you’ll forget to purchase what you actually need.
So many entrepreneurs drum up an idea for a business, they build and scale and iterate upon that idea, then —usually after their budget’s already been exhausted on development —realize they still have to tell the world about their idea, or nobody will want to spend money on it.
Strategic marketing drives sales, builds your brand, sustains your presence and informs your customers. It is crucial to grow your company in tandem with a well-developed marketing plan.
Here are five of the most important elements to keep in mind when creating the right promotional plan:
Possibly the most common core mistake that people make is to misunderstand one’s target audience and speak to them in a way that does not engage or convert. Brilliant engineers who develop groundbreaking products and services tend to lean toward tech-speak, rather than speaking on the same level as the layman. Many entrepreneurs also become so involved in the details, they forget their customers are not yet fully versed on why they need that product in the first place. Making your technical jargon sexy and accessible to your target audience is a huge part of getting a off the ground. Everything (from sales decks, to advertising, to your website) needs to include impactful and engaging messaging at a level which drives end-user interest.
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Cultivating the aspects of your product that makes it unique educates customers about exactly who you are and what you do, while also building “brand loyalty” as they form a personal attachment to your company. If done properly, this will make them loyal enough to check out every new service you introduce. Your brand identity, such as the logo and color palette, also falls under this umbrella. Those elements should be intentional, cohesive and comprehensively outlined in your brand guide. Easily identifiable logos and color schemes (like the NBC Peacock or the Starbucks green siren) elicit an instant brand recognition that’s hard to come by — but invaluable.
The information about your executives that exists on the internet can be highly influential in determining whether someone will become your customer, in both positive and negative ways. From expert reviews in the New York Times to customer feedback on Yelp or a neighborhood Facebook page, it’s important for you to manage and maintain your online reputation. This includes being mindful of and optimizing where you show up in online searches compared to your competition. Potential customers will absolutely judge your product by how you fall in a Google search and what is said about you — so everyone, from the top of your org chart to the bottom, needs to always be on their A-game.
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Sales funnel fuel
Savvy marketers know how and where to spend your budget to get the greatest impact — and how to convert even the lookie-loos into loyal patrons. Offering passive browsers something for free, whether that be a sample product, an opportunity to sign up for your newsletter or an exclusive introductory discount, will not only get you on their radar but will often also develop an emotional investment in purchasing from you. On top of this, ongoing communication with your existing customers that keeps them engaged in new products and developments will garner additional revenues and earn you lifelong brand champions.
These become amplifiers for the previous four key elements in your marketing plan. There’s no denying the importance, influence or ubiquity of social media today — and the opportunities for exposure and conversion grow exponentially by the minute. Additionally, working with a strategic PR agency (or an executive who is well-versed in the media) can earn you that crucial third-party endorsement from print, digital and online outlets to help build trust, hype and community support around your brand. Because it’s one thing for you to say how great you are in an advertisement or on your social media feed, but you can anticipate an entirely new level of success when the media sings your praises or gives you an opportunity to present your executives as an authority in your industry. Those stories are like little trophies earned. Why not rack them up and share them across social media for your friends, fans, potential customers and even competitors, to see.
Related: How to Stand Out in a Crowded Content Marketing Space