Marketing Communications – What’s the Plan?

When small business owners and managers start thinking about how they need to communicate with customers, often the most important part of the process is the one that’s given little thought – planning. Without a plan it’s possible, if not likely, a business’ marketing communications will end up being haphazard, more expensive than necessary and unsuccessful.

You should include virtually everything you can think of that will help you determine the best way forward. It’s also wise to ask other people, including, if possible, some of your customers or potential customers. Sometimes you can be too close to the business to know all the answers.

What do you want to achieve through your marketing communications?

It’s always good to have something to aim at. Be specific, be measurable, be achievable and don’t be too conservative. For example, to increase my customer base by 25% in the next financial year is specific, and easy to measure and most likely achievable with a bit of a stretch. You may find you’ll have several aims – list all of them.

Who is your target customer?

Who is your ideal customer? Who is likely to want to purchase your products or services?

Try to add as much detail as possible. For example, you might decide lawyers are one of your target customers, but add to this by listing where they are located, whether you’re targeting small, medium or large firms, and whether they specialise in any particular field. Then think about who makes the decisions in your target firms or households: owners or managers, sex, age, ethnicity, etc.

This work isn’t meant to limit who you would take on as a customer. The details will simply help later when you’re developing your plan, your messages and where and how you deploy them.

What are your products or services?

This might seem obvious, but surprisingly a lot of business owners/managers don’t necessarily know much about their products and services and can’t describe them in a way that most people can understand. If there are too many to list, just list the major categories.

Why should people buy your products or use your services rather than your competitor’s (your key selling points)?

Are you the cheapest or are your products or services premium quality? Is your service exceptional? Do you have the biggest range? Do you have free delivery? Do you make a coffee for your customers while they wait? There are too many possibilities to list here but it’s a good idea to list everything that is relevant to your business.

These points are often called your unique selling proposition but I believe you don’t have to be unique to succeed in business. You just need to do what you do well, and promote yourself just as well.

Does your business have a key message (e.g. McDonalds – I’m lovin’ it)?

Personally, I like these key messages. They succinctly tell something about your business; something that the customer can expect when they walk through your door (or your virtual door, as is often the case these days.) The key message should go hand in hand with ‘why should people use you’. For example, many businesses have a key message indicating they have the lowest prices, because that is one of their key selling points.

What image is your business trying to portray?

This is another question that goes hand in hand with your key selling points and key message. Do you want to be seen as professional, stylish, cheap, glamorous, etc.? Remember, it’s no point simply trying to portray an image in words; you have to live it. In my experience, customers don’t like businesses who can’t deliver what they say they can.

What is your budget for marketing communications?

You don’t need to spend a fortune and, if you’re like most small businesses, you may want to do thing a bit at a time. Get your business cards now, then a few months later a website. Next year, invest in a flyer and start an email marketing campaign. However, don’t be stingy; not spending enough money on marketing communications can hurt your business.

What skills do you have in your small business? Can anyone write, take photos or design a website.

Ask your staff – if you have any staff – as you may be surprised. 

Internet Marketing Services – What Should You Pursue?

You may often wonder what really Internet marketing is. Well, there have been many definitions formulated by various gurus of Internet marketing. Individuals who have tried out the huge and lucrative business opportunity of Internet marketing also have provided various interpretations of it. Though several such definitions and interpretations have been suggested yet hundreds and thousands of aspiring internet marketers are still in the quest for getting the exact definition of Internet marketing. Such Internet marketing aspirants want to get a clear idea of what exactly they are seeking to get into.

In an endeavor to determine the much wanted exact definition of Internet marketing we can examine some situations. With the question of defining Internet marketing being put forward to some 100 individuals- 99 of them point out to the search engine as the ultimate path finder in this regard. Then one can go to one’s favorite search engine and type in the words “define Internet marketing” and click on the searching icon to give…the results.

In the search results pages the top pages will be the ones displaying information/web pages of marketing veterans established as pioneers of Internet marketing. Such persons have rightfully secured a spot to provide a definition of Internet marketing from their viewpoint. There are, however, the placement ads on search result pages and glancing upon them will reveal another story altogether.

It is with the intention of helping websites get more traffic or hits that most of the ads related with Internet marketing have been set up. Indeed Internet traffic is the lifeblood of any website and the sites thrive on Internet traffic. Now we may combine this concept with the traditional concept of marketing conduction with the Internet acting as the marketing medium here. The following conclusion providing a definition of Internet marketing can be arrived at:

“Internet marketing is an income-generating opportunity dependent on the utilization of interactive technology (via the Internet) to build a dialog with potential clients by connecting with them through quality content about your product and/or service offerings”.

Thus, the interactive technology specified as the “Internet” is to be utilized for fulfillment of Internet marketing. Different Internet marketing services existing are involved in the utilization of the Internet. These are the services which are requisite of the Internet to be able to perform its specific tasks in the capacity of marketing medium between Internet marketers and clients pertaining to them.

In order to keep alive their online business all online entrepreneurs need to familiarize themselves with Internet marketing services. These are the services which are vital for their online business’s development and also for making their Internet marketing careers successful.

Information on some basic Internet marketing services is provided here for you to learn about and familiarize yourself with:

Search Engine Optimization– In order to locate websites and finding useful information on the Web the search engines are used. These are powerful tools used by most Internet users for finding the information they are seeking. Efforts need to be made so as to ensure that your site is appearing on the top pages of a search engine page result. By search engine optimization i.e. optimizing your website by reengineering its contents you can expect to secure better search engine placements.

Indexing– The procedure of submission of your web pages for search engine registration and registration in various Internet based directories is involved in indexing.

Keyword research– The highly searched keywords and key phrases relevant to your online business can be identified by keyword research.

SEO consultation need– Internet marketers who are novices in the field can well invest with an SEO consultant. This is suggested if you wish to receive help in planning the methods of successfully marketing your website.

Use net– The Use net is a fast and efficient method for generating targeted traffic for your website. This involves a worldwide bulletin board system in which there are over 14,000 forums covering every interest group. Everyday this is commonly used by millions of individuals all over the world.

E-mail marketing procedures– An electronic mail is made use of here. This is sent to a list of subscribers who wish to receive updates of your products and services. E-mail marketing is a popular Internet marketing advertising method.

Press releases services– Useful information concerning your online business (website) like site launches, special products on offer or other helpful information are announced through press releases. In order to ensure that more people are attracted towards your site the press releases are carefully drafted.

These are the basic and essential ones among the Internet marketing services. There are various other Internet marketing services available too. In order to be successful in your Internet marketing business you need to carefully integrate any of these in your online business so that the best results are derived.

Marketing Communication and Small Business – Pluses and Pitfalls

Although it is universally acknowledged that communication is an essential tool for establishing and maintaining relationships in any sphere of life, small businesses are often guilty of either ignoring or making a right royal botch up of their marketing communication.

This is obviously not intentional, but rather a by-product of the stresses and strains of the daily running of a small business. A lack of time, resources and awareness all contribute to marketing communication either falling off the small business agenda altogether or being implemented in a haphazard and often damaging manner.

This is unfortunate (but can easily be corrected!) because effective marketing communication can be such a asset to a small business. Here are just a few potential benefits:

1) Building your businesses “brand” through increased awareness.

2) Attracting your “ideal” customer rather than just any customer.

3) Establishing your credentials in your field of business.

4) Increasing turnover

5) Giving your business a “voice” which customers can relate to.

If your marketing communications can achieve those 5 points then you will be laughing all the way to the bank.

The flip side of the picture is less rosy – and unfortunately more common for small businesses. Here is what can happen when your marketing communications are haphazard and unplanned.

1) Your business “brand” and business “voice” are undefined and thus of no benefit to you.

2) The customers receive mixed messages about what they can expect from your business.

3) As a direct consequence of (2), your business cannot hope to meet all of your customers expectations because these are based on erroneous assumptions.

4) The consequence of (3) is that you fail to build credibility in the market place.

5) The upshot of (4) is decreased turnover.

The harsh truth is that, in this scenario, a small business may have spent good money to create an unhappy customer! Such is the power of communication, and small businesses are doing themselves a disservice by not paying adequate attention to their marketing communication.

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