If you’re a business owner, the success of your company directly correlates to your ability to achieve personal financial goals. So, as we work with families to manage debt, assess cash flow and plan for retirement, we also dig into your business operations, growth plans and opportunities to enhance corporate profitability. While many business owners are experts in their fields or had a bright idea to make the world better, they often feel in the dark about marketing.
In order for marketing to truly help your business grow, there are four things you must decide first:
Know who you are. Take the time to understand what makes your business unique. Talk to your employees, your clients, your vendors, your prospects. How would they describe your culture, your services – even your weaknesses? Conduct formal research to understand what it’s like to work with your company and how that compares to working with the competition. Then, put concise and compelling language around that uniqueness, and equip your team members to be ambassadors for your brand – telling the same story consistently and with a brand personality that feels distinctly you.
Know who you help. The service your company delivers meets the needs of certain people more than others. Identifying audiences that experience the greatest value from your business is an important exercise, and it offers much-needed clarity for your marketing efforts. Unless you have an unlimited budget (in which case, I’m jealous), you can’t say ‘yes’ to every marketing opportunity, every request for advertising or sponsorship that comes your way. But if you understand who you want to attract – their lifestyle, challenges, sources of information and more – then you can be strategic about where you spend your resources. Clearly defining your ideal target client shapes everything from events you host and where you advertise to ideas for blog content and memberships in professional organizations.
Know what success looks like. Every marketer’s favorite question is, “What will I get for the money I spend on marketing?” Showing return on investment is an essential part of the job today, but it’s tough to do if you don’t know the location of the goal line. Effective marketing starts with establishing clear, measurable goals and organizing a strategic plan that works together to help you achieve them. Too often, business owners deploy a whole bunch of miscellaneous marketing tactics like social media or email marketing without spelling out what they hope to accomplish. When you know what constitutes a ‘win,’ you can prioritize available tactics and say ‘no’ to those that don’t support your overall marketing strategy.
Know when you’re out of your depth. Business owners wear many hats, but marketing might simply not fit your skillset. That’s okay. Know when you need to hire or outsource the work. Although a recently graduated marketing coordinator might meet your short-term needs, an experienced marketer could be a better hire if ambitious growth is what you’re after. Or, you can contract with a freelance consultant or professional marketing agency. They don’t simply do graphic design, website development and video production; today, many of them offer valuable brand positioning, strategic planning and digital marketing execution, too.
Marketing can and should help your business grow. But there’s no one-size-fits-all plan that will work. Effective marketing should be tailored to your unique situation and designed around your business objectives. If you know who you are, who you help, what success looks like and when to pass the baton, you’re likely four steps ahead of your competitors.
Blog by Christine Golden, Director of Marketing.
Category: Marketing Consultation