Thursday, March 14, 2013

Building Good Marketing Habits

Make Them an Important Part of Your Business Process

Ever hear of the saying – “Deep water covers many stumps?” The essence is that when times are good, real problems can appear not to exist. It’s only when the water recedes that problems are revealed. When you are busy earning your income from existing business, it can be easy to forget that marketing is critical to your success. You can delude yourself that into thinking everything is fine since you appear to be achieving  your goals.But you want to ensure that  this  mental slip does not overtake your good sense? Gravy trains eventually end. If you are not prepared, you can find yourself at the end of the line. Marketing planning should be an ongoing process that is considered year round.

Habitual Marketing Practices
To develop healthy marketing habits even when you are busy delivering other products or services,  allocate a certain amount of time per month. Theoretically, you have 2,080 working hours a year. Setting aside 10% (208 hours a year!) may seem like a lot - especially if you are hourly billing or already doing more with less. Invest wisely, however. Divide your marketing time into two categories -- strategy and execution. Use your knowledge of your business cycle and allocate how much time per month is required. Budget it. Calendar it.

Strategy: Develop Annually
Before you gear up for the particularly busy  periods, put aside  a portion of your allocated marketing time and  determine which tactics are going to best serve your objectives in the coming year. Use the time to update your marketing plan.
  • Review your existing strategy - are you reaching the right target audience?
  • Has a new development internally or externally caused a shift? Check out existing tactics.
  • Marketing  materials - do they fit the bill or are they old?
  • Are the colors, images or information in need of an update? 
  • Advertising – did it reach the amount of people expected and generate leads?
  • Website - hs it been checked lately and are recent changes reflected?
  • Look at alternatives marketing/advertising strategies - change it up
  • Business Cards – can they be designed to be more effective?
  • Print advertising -  are you advertising in the right one for your clients?
  • Participation - are you involved in activities which impact or influence your clients?
  • If you have a fixed budget, determine which tactics of this year’s marketing campaign worked
  • Look even closer at strategies that did not work
  • Use that knowledge to adjust for next year.
Execute: Deliver Perennially
While you must be flexible, don’t allow distractions to decrease the amount of time required to make the strategy a reality. Remember, marketing is a habit. Create an action plan and decide how and when you will take on the marketing projects.
  • How many networking events will you participate in?
  • How many business cards will you hand out?
  • How many times will you refer people to your website for information?
Make marketing goals and take the time you allocated monthly to get out there and spread the word about the superior work you do.
  • Does that make you uncomfortable?
  • How will prospective clients know about you unless you tell them or do excellent work for others and get referrals?
  • You are performing a valuable service.
  • Go tell others what value your company can provide. 

An annual planning habit and monthly execution habits are ways to insure that marketing stays in the viewfinder. While it’s simpler to stay with your day-to-day process, it’s shortsighted to think business will jump your way without you jumping towards it. Make time for setting your strategy and marketing your organization or business. Whether you are an institution, a company or an organization your members, employees, the public and suppliers are all potential customers. 

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