I’ve seen it time and time again. People realize that they need to get more clients, that their business is no longer surviving strictly off of referrals and they decide it’s finally time to put some money into marketing.
So they contact me. And they say “We don’t have much money. How can we get new clients right away?"
And the answer is, you can’t. Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t do one marketing effort and expect to see immediate results. But I can guarantee that creating a long-term marketing strategy and consistent effort over the long haul WILL net you much more business.
Think of marketing like strategizing in war. If you’re the general, you need to know why you’re fighting, where the enemy’s strongholds are and how you’re going to plan your attack. If some battles don’t go well, you don’t give up on the overall mission. You just re-group keep fighting.
To create an effective long-term marketing strategy, you have to zero in on your marketing goal. Your goal should be targeted and specific. It should NOT be as general as “I just want to make more money.” Duh, of course you do. But that’s not going to sharpen your focus enough to tell you where to spend your marketing money.
Here are some simple steps to putting together a long-term marketing strategy:
1. Identify your ideal client – Marketing is all about getting the right message to the right
people. If you don’t know who you want to reach, you’re going to be all over the place and waste valuable time and money. Once you know who you want to reach, try to get inside their heads. Where do they live? How old are they? Where do they hang out? What problems do they need solved? Put a name and a face to that person and put it up on a wall to remind you who you are going after.
2. Build your email database – When you want to build your business, think about concentric circles. Market first to the people who already know you the best – your current and former customers and contacts. They are the ones who are the most familiar with you and the most likely to buy from you again or refer you to someone else.
One of the best ways to marketing to your existing customers is to send out weekly or monthly emails to them (provided they give you the OK), and let them know what you are doing and how you can help. Every single time you make a new connection with a new potential client, ask if they would like to be added to your email list. Use any opportunity you can – such as at trade shows, networking events, etc. – to get more people onto your mailing list. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your list will grow. The other benefit of email: It's practically free.
3. Think hard before you change direction – Often when business is slow, we think we need to shift the direction of our company. But sometimes, we have to ask ourselves if changing directions is worth the time and effort. For example, if you’re currently an interior designer for homeowners, but you’d really like to be doing interior design for hotels, you’re going to have to put a lot of effort into reaching a whole new market. It will take time to gather a list of hotels and hotel managers, start to network with them, and for them to know who you are. It’s not that it can’t be done, it’s just that it’s going to take longer to establish yourself in a new market. If you do start down a new path, remember, this is going to take time. Don’t give up.
4. Be Consistent – Have you ever gone to a company’s Facebook page that doesn’t have any recent posts? It’s like going to a store with a “closed” sign out front. If you’re not
consistently updating your social media accounts, you might as well not be doing them.
Consistency is key to developing trust and legitimacy, and it also helps keep your brand at the forefront of your customers’ minds. Blogs or newsletters should be sent out the same day every week or every month. Facebook pages should ideally be updated at least once a day. Set a schedule for yourself and stick to it.
Sharp Pencil Marketing