Growing Your Business Through a Smart Marketing Program
By Betty Rengifo Uribe, Ed.D.
Executive Vice President, California Bank & Trust
Business & Personal Division
Marketing is an investment. Whether it’s through advertising, public relations, events, promotional literature or other avenues, it is an investment like any other business investment, and it should generate a return. Whatever that return may be, (greater cash flow, higher event attendance, a boost in new subscribers, etc.,) the best marketing plans will result in higher sales traffic and increased profits.
Don’t simply throw money at a variety of advertising efforts; do your homework and create an overall marketing program. These steps will help you define the best marketing program to target your ideal customer:
Step 1: Identify Your Target Markets
The more you understand your most valued customers, the more you can target other potentially great customers and win their business. Use your best customers today to create an overall Customer Profile. This will help you evaluate the best way to reach potential customers. Develop a Market Analysis that examines how your target profile clients have bounced back from the economy’s downturn, and hence how you can add value to other potential customers who look like them. Identify community events that your target customers attend and get involved.
Step 2: Evaluate the Competition
Your marketing plan must set you apart from the competition. Understanding the competition is the basis for determining what differentiates your business from competitors in your industry. Get to know your competitors by gathering information about their products, services, quality and pricing, as well as their advertising campaigns and any coverage they receive in the press. What are the media and their customers saying about them? What do their ads tell you are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? Use this information to identify your key strengths and differentiators. Use your findings to create a targeted marketing plan that highlights these advantages to potential customers.
Step 3: Consider your Brand Impact
How customers perceive your business makes a dramatic impact on your sales. Your marketing program should consistently reinforce and extend your brand, brand image and messaging. Further that effort by defining a clear business identity – what your brand represents and the value it brings to your customers. For example, an accounting firm’s brand might reflect accuracy and integrity while a doctor’s office might focus on competency, experience and care.
Step 4: Think Benefits
How much value are you adding to your customers? What problems do you solve? Customers think in terms of benefits and solutions, not products. Your marketing plan should clearly identify the value offered by your business. Consider this in terms of what customers receive instead of what your business offers. For example, a CPA firm might highlight their expertise in your type of business, coupled with a quick turnaround and accuracy of their staff, rather than the latest technology they use to prepare tax returns. With benefits in mind, the money you spend will be more likely to pay off if you target the right customer for your business and tell them how you benefit their specific type of business.
Step 5: Evaluate the Results
Always seek the greatest possible return on your marketing spending. Evaluate the results of each element of your marketing program and update those that aren’t delivering value for your investment. Measuring advertising effectiveness ensures that your business is directly benefiting from the money you spend. Find out what works and constantly seek to improve your returns.
If developing an overall marketing program seems overly complicated or time consuming, help is easy to find. Look for a firm that can advise you on a broad range of initiatives. Explain your objectives, share the results of your own market analysis and customer profiles, and let a professional help you determine how to implement the right marketing program for your business. For more business tips, please visit the California Bank & Trust business resource center at: www.calbanktrust.sbresources.com.