There once was a time that basketball players could go straight from high school to the NBA (ever heard of a guy named LeBron James?). However, problems arose when the league discovered it was investing too much money into very talented, yet far too underdeveloped, players. The “One-and-Done” rule was thus introduced. Now, to be eligible to enter the NBA draft, a player must be one year removed from high school. In other words, he must play at least one year of college ball to (hopefully) get better. There are no shortcuts in basketball.
As in the case of college basketball, companies that bring a short-term mentality to their marketing programs tend to miss vital opportunities to grow and improve their products, programs, and teams.
When business owners come to us frustrated with their marketing efforts, we almost always find that their approach to marketing is what’s wrong. With few exceptions, they have a “one and done” mentality. They try one approach here, one approach there. When they don’t see results right away, they move on to the next thing, hoping that the new thing will work. It never does. Over time, they become desperate, grasping at straws, searching for that “one thing” that will improve their sales numbers. They continually place their marketing efforts exist in silos, each task unrelated to the next, and the lack of cohesion is ultimately the cause of their downfall.
By contrast, successful small business owners approach marketing with a campaign mindset. They realize their successes are a cumulative effort, not the result of one or two specific activities. They don’t post an event on Facebook and deem it a failure if no one shows up. They deploy several efforts for that event. And, they realize that event is part of a bigger strategy of keeping their sales funnel full of new prospective clients AND keeping their name in front of clients they already have. They understand that their marketing efforts piggyback off of each other. Their larger, longer-term strategy threads through every aspect of their business.
With all of that in mind, here are five steps for developing your marketing as a process.
- Vision comes before strategy.
If you develop a clear vision, you can effectively choose and implement the right strategy. Without vision, no strategy can save you.
Get clear on what you want, and the “how” will take care of itself.
Ask yourself, “What is my marketing vision?” Devote time and energy to this question. It’s the most important aspect of your marketing program.
- Focus on how your customers feel.
How your customers feel determines whether your business thrives, flounders, or fails. The secret to growth for every business is the customer experience, not the marketing done in the pages of a magazine, newspaper, on TV, or online.
You create revenue when your customer experience becomes referable — when people share with others the positive experiences they had with your business. Are you creating an experience they’ll remember and share? Marketers must understand the needs of their customers and how to continue to refine their products and solutions.
- Perfect your online engagement tools.
No matter what your business sells, how it sells it, or where people buy you it, the decision to buy is made first online. If you sell stuff or services, people will research before buying from you. Your business must, therefore, be findable, easily engaged with, and easily communicated with. To that end, focus on:
- a clear and engaging website
- content marketing (including blogs)
- social media participation
- videos (seminars, workshops, and classes)
- and more
These elements will allow you to move from salesperson to teacher, educating and partnering with your prospects to meet their needs until closing.
- Develop a selling process
What’s your approach when a prospect wants to learn more? How do you develop trust and rapport? How will you take clients on the journey from interest to final sale? You need a well thought out roadmap.
- Create a marketing calendar and stick to it.
By creating monthly projects and themes, weekly action steps, and daily marketing appointments, you keep the focus, enthusiasm, and creativity on marketing and prevent it from being pushed to the back burner while you accomplish other tasks.
Remember, marketing is a process, not an event. Resolve to follow your marketing calendar for at least 3 months before making any decisions to change it.
Even those clients who are doing well with their sales, products offered, and marketing cannot be complacent. Inevitably, competitors will recognize this niche and attack it. So, create the process, work the process, and reap the benefits results. Of course, you’ll need to revisit (and possibly revamp) your overall marketing strategy each year, but, from day to day, resist the “one-and-done” temptation.