First off, if your small company is growing, the sooner you hire
competent marketing expertise, the better. But this is the real
world. You have to walk before you run, and if the money simply
isn't there, you do the best you can.
So here's what you do: Think like an agency.
By using the same fundamentals as an agency, you can build a
marketing plan that will set your company on a more effective path
now. You will also avoid the No. 1 mistake small advertisers make:
creating marketing in the wrong order. By that I mean they begin
with the last step -- execution -- satisfying a need for, say, a
website or brochure before they've settled on an objective.
Let's go through the steps.
1. Determine one specific objective
2. Define your target
3. Determine your identity
4. Develop your plan
5. Create and execute.
About now you're thinking, "Duh." Still, most small advertisers
get into trouble because they don't take the steps in the correct
order. Don't make the mistake of jumping to execution. By breaking
down each step, you'll see why that 's a costly error.
Determine one specific objective
This must be a business goal that marketing can achieve. If you
can't afford the marketing required to achieve the goal, it can't
be the goal. The goal must also be specific if you expect the
marketing to be measurable.
For example, if you're a retailer with a number of locations
that need to boost business, the specific objective could be:
Increase sales by 10% within three months by proving the
superiority of the product over its competition.
Define your target
This is a crucial step and easily bungled because you are
actually not defining a target but a bull's-eye. There's a lot to
do here, but in a nutshell: Think of your dream customer. Write
down everything you can think of that makes her a dream customer.
Then break down that description into a few categories that will
help guide you to the best place, time and way to communicate to
her why she should buy your product.
Determine your identity
An identity is not a color, typeface, design style or tagline.
It's a story. It's not what you do or how you do it, but rather
why you do it. This will be the toughest step to do well
because it's so tempting to say what you do differently or how you
do it differently. But if the consumer doesn't know why you would
do something better than everyone else, they won't believe that you
can or will.
Develop your plan
This is your huge opportunity to be a hero or a chump. You know
who will buy. You know how to tell them why they should. Now figure
out the best ways to bring target and identity together. Warning:
There will be a great temptation to do what you've always done.
After all, the boss likes to see his company on TV.
But now is a time to examine all options to find the most
effective way to connect target to identity. Don't let fear stop
you from doing the right thing. If the best approach is social
media and you don't know how that would work, keep it on the table.
Then hire an expert.
Create and execute
Again, this is usually where most advertisers start. Now that
you've made it the last step you'll find that you have better ideas
that will be easier to get approved. Your objective, target ,
identity and plan will reinforce the validity of the creative and
how best to carry it out.
This is a high-altitude view of something that needs closer
examination to execute to its greatest potential. Think of these as
keystones. Each must be placed so you are able to align everything
else. Try this on one project, and I promise you will never do it
any other way. Because it works.