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A Simple Guide to Creating Your Marketing Plan for 2013

A Simple Guide to Creating Your Marketing Plan for 2013

The current economic downturn is causing stress among small businesses owners. Yet, this is not the time to cut back on marketing, but it is a time to get your marketing plan of attack into gear. You must first decide what your goals are, who your target market is, how you will reach your targets and set up a long-term plan to reach your target market.

What are your goals and who is your target?
Before you can begin a marketing campaign, you need to know what your goals are and who your ideal client is. How many ideal clients would you like to add to your client base?

We will follow Michelle Davis as she creates a marketing plan of attack for her financial planning firm. Michelle started her business two years ago and currently has 55 clients. She wants to add to add 25 new clients to her roster over the next twelve months, an average of two clients per month.

She has decided that her ideal client has a yearly income of $100,000 and $500,000 in investable assets. Beginning with a broad look at the type of client’s she wants to attract now, she need to add more details.

What other traits can she add to help decide who her ideal prospects are? Does she want prospects that she will have to spend a great deal of time educating on benefits of financial planning? Does she want clients who want full details of their financials on a quarterly basis, or someone who just wants to know if they are on target to meet their financial goals?

At this point, Michelle has decided that her ideal client is someone who has a household income of $100,000 per year. The client has investable assets of at least $500,000, married, planning for college education of two or three kids, and planning for the retirement of both partners.

They have an understanding of the need for financial planning, implementing the plan and desires to be informed but not educated. They also do not need a detailed report on their finances, but an overview of how their investments and whether or not they are on target to reach their goals.

Deciding where your market is and how to reach your market:
Michelle knows that the type of clients she is prospecting for live in affluent neighborhoods, children attend prestigious private schools and belong to certain country clubs and civic organizations. She quickly decides that cold calling will not reach this group of prospects. She sits down and thinks about the type of marketing activities that will reach her prospective clients, the type of marketing activities she likes to do and is most likely to complete.

Through careful thought and research, she have decided to use a combination of networking, referral partners, writing articles, writing reports, newsletters, postcards,blog, podcasts, slideshare presentations, radio interviews, videos, webinars, online groups, public relations and community involvement.

Now that she has decided on what kinds of marketing activities, she wants to pursue. She decides to do a breakdown of how often she will do each activity for the year, estimating that she is able to spend 10 hours a week on her marketing activities.

Michelle’s breakdown looks like this:

  • Networking events: Attend one per a week.
  • Cultivating Referral Partners: Host a breakfast or lunch meeting once a month.
  • Online Groups: Join 3-4 online groups that her target audience participates in and actively participate.
  • Writing Reports: Write an in-depth report once per month.
  • Newsletter: Create a monthly newsletter.
  • Postcards: Send out postcards every six weeks.
  • Podcasts: Create a short podcast once a week and post to blog.
  • Slideshare: Create a slideshare presentation four times a year.
  • Radio Interviews: Become guest on radio talk shows twice a month.
  • Video: Create one short video a month and add to blog
  • Webinars: Create four webinars per year.
  • Community Involvement: Become a sponsor in two large events per year.
  • Press Releases: Sending out press releases telling of news concerning her business or for a free offer.
  • Blog: Create a blog educating her clients and prospects on financial planning and keeping readers updated on financial news, adding posts at least twice a week

Creating her long-term plan to reach your market:

Michelle has figured out who her target market is, how she will try to reach her target market. Now that she has a plan on ways to reach her market, she has to decide on a schedule to implement the plan. Michelle starts by creating a spreadsheet with each month listed. Then she breaks the month down by weeks and starts placing events into each month, trying to place at least four events in each month.

For Example:

Weekly: Two blog posts per week and podcast

January

Week 1- Send newsletter to current email list
Week 2 – Go to a networking event.
Week 3 – Create Video
Week 4 – Send Press release offering a free booklet geared toward my ideal prospects and add booklet to website
Week 5 – Create SlideShare Presenation

February

Week 1 – Send newsletter to current email list
Week 2 – Host a lunch to cultivate referrals from current clients
Week 3 – Create Video
Week 4 -.Send out a postcard to prospects reminding prospects of the services she offers that are helpful to them and referring them to her website and blog

She lays out her marketing plan for the rest of the year, outlining her activities.

She knows that the plan should be flexible and is a guideline for her marketing activities, not set in stone. It will help her know what she should be doing at any given time, but she will not hesitate to change the plan when activities are not meeting her desired goals, but allowing the activities to have time to work and not change things too quickly. Give the plan time to work, making sure you have an idea of how the activities are really working before you change things.

Tracking results and hitting her goals:

Michelle revises her spreadsheet adding columns to keep track of her costs, what marketing activities are generating inquiries and clients gained per month, helping her to keep on target.

She knows it is important for to track her results. If she writes a press release and offers a free booklet, she tracks how many people call and request the booklet, and finds out how they found out about the booklet. She also tracks how many invites she sends out for her seminars, how many people sign-up and how many people actually attend.

Along with tracking her marketing activities, she tracks how many prospects that contacted her throughout the year that actually became clients. How long it took the prospect to move through her sales pipeline before they became a client. What was the deciding factor that made them decide to become a client? She tracks how many people visit her website. How many people download her reports, and sign up for her newsletter. Constantly tracking her results lets her know what activities are bringing her business and what activities are wasting her time. When it comes time to do next year’s marketing plan, she will know what activities to continue and discontinue.

Marketing Success

Marketing is a cycle. You must first understand what you marketing activities need to do for you. Are you trying to increase your prospect base, follow up with prospects, get a meeting, or close a sale? Gear your activities to what you are trying to do and focus on those things. When you increase your prospect base, move on to following up, getting the meeting, and closing the sale, then start all over. NEVER stop marketing, if you want to keep doing business.

Creating a marketing plan does not have to be a daunting task, it can easily be broken down into small bites of manageable projects that can be tracked and repeated. Just remember the old saying “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

Your Turn:

Have your created your marketing plan for 2013?

Join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service  Firms

 

The Secret to Online Marketing Success

By: greyweed

Show up Everywhere

 

That’s the big secret to being successful in online marketing. You have to show up everywhere you target audience hangs out.

 

Even better is if you can show up in a variety of formats. This may be the difficult part for solo or very small businesses.

 

So, how do You Eat an Elephant?

 

One bite at a time.

 

Start with one thing that you are going to do. Today you write a blog post or add an article to your website.

 

Tomorrow you comment on other blog posts or group forums.

 

Understand that just as it takes time to eat an elephant, it will take time to achieve success with your online marketing.

 

Create a plan and just keep just keep eating away at that elephant. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just something to guide you and keep you going.

 

What are some of the Ways that you can Show up in front of your Target Audience?

 

  • Creating a blog and posting often
  • Posting comments on other blogs
  • Adding articles to you website
  • Videos (short 3-5 minutes are best)
  • Podcasts that can be downloaded
  • Slideshare presentations
  • Webinars on demand
  • Live Webinars
  • Participating in forums and groups
  • Writing guest posts
  • Excepting guest blog posts
  • Submitting articles to publications that you audience reads
  • Create a contest
  • Interact with your Twitter following
  • Follow others on twitter and interact with them
  • Hold a tweet fest
  • Engage your Facebook fans

 

These are just some of the things that you can do to get your business in front of your target audience, let you mind run free and think up some more. Even better, if you have more ideas, posts them in the comments sections.

 

The Ugly Part

 

Here’s the skinny of it all, you have to keep showing up. You have to be dedicated to online marketing over a long period. The truth of it is, it will take some time to see traction from your online marketing efforts, but don’t give up. I get probably 90% of my business from my blog and showing up where my target audience resides. This is from a one-person operation.

 

I am thinking about growing my business and possibly adding employees or using more freelancers. How do I plan to do this?

 

  • Add more content more often
  • Add a bigger variety of content (videos, podcasts, webinars, slideshare, eBooks, speaking, workshops, ECT.)
  • Growing my email list so that I can get more leads and nurture those leads into clients

 

This is just some of the ideas that I have come up with for now. I am working on a plan for next year right now and you should too.

 

 What are you waiting for?

 

Are you scared it won’t work? Well of course, it won’t if you don’t do it. Why not try it and see if it works. The great part is that the biggest commitment is your time and energy.

 

You don’t have time. Well cut out an hour or two of television a day, get up an hour earlier or stay up an hour later.

 

You have to get off your ass and do it to see results. Try it for yourself for a while and if is too much for you but you realize the benefit, than hire someone to help you.

 

I know you are tired of hearing about all the other people who are achieving success marketing their businesses online.

 

Stop sitting back and wishing it was you and do something about it.

 

Your Turn:

 

Are you really doing all that you can to achieve online marketing success?

 

What are some other ways that you can think of to show up in front of your target audience?

 

What Next:

You can always comment on my Blog, connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service  Firms, sign up for my NEWSLETTER.  or Contact Me.

 

 

 

Generating Leads like Kids to an Ice Cream Truck

Generating Leads like Kids to an Ice Cream Truck

You hear it all the time, make millions on the internet. You see the ads for products that tell you can make easy money on the internet. Generate thousands of leads.

All you have to do is throw up a website, just sit back and wait for the leads and money to roll in.

Sounds too good to be true.

That’s because it is. Don’t be dumb. The only people making money that easily on the internet are the people selling products that are supposed to tell you how to easily make money on the internet for the rest of us it takes hard work.

The truth is, generating leads and making money on the internet is not easy, but it is doable. It takes hard work and time, but is well worth the investment if done consistently.

Before you run off… let me tell you again. You can generate leads and gain clients using the internet. You just have to put in some work.

Begin with an idea of whom you are trying to sell too. Who is the one person that would be ideal for your services?

You can create more than one ideal client profile, just don’t create too many. The goal is to narrow down who you are trying to reach and speak directly to them.

Who is Your Ideal Client?

Begin by understanding who your ideal clients are. Look at your current customers. How much do you know about them? Think about the clients that you working with. Why do you enjoy working with these clients?

Let’s break down the process of creating an ideal profile.

  1. Create a list of your ideal clients. Only include clients that you truly find ideal to work with.
  2. For each client write town all the things that makes them ideal. Include only truly ideal qualities.
  3. Create a list of qualities that are most common among your ideal clients.
  4. Go back to each individual client profile and write the clients profession, job title, business volume, personal affiliations, trade magazines they read and personal details.
  5. Look for the most common professions, titles, business volume, personal affiliations, etc.
  6. Take this information and create your ideal client profile.
  7. If you don’t have enough information about your ideal clients, get on the phone, ask them some questions and fill in what you don’t already know. You just might be surprised at what you find out.

Example

Let’s say you are a professional business coach. You have gathered all the information for creating your ideal client profile and your information looks like this:

Ideal Client Profile

Male, age 45

Married, 3 kids

Mid-level Executive – looking to make it into c-level management (This is the problem you help them solve).

Wants to become recognized as a leader and pioneer in their field. (This is how you help them).

Working in the financial services industry for ten years

Member of professional industry associations

Income is $110,000, looking to move above $150,000 a year.

Has a master’s degree.

Plays golf.

Once you have developed your ideal client profile, you are now in the position to target others who meet your ideal client’s profile.

Going Where Your Ideal Clients Hang-out

Now it is time to find ways to stand out to your ideal clients that you are targeting.

Develop a list of places your clients hang out on the internet. What forums do they participate? What associations do they belong? What trade magazines do they read? What blogs do they read?

Once you know where they hang out, it is time to become know to them and show them that you understand their problems and can help them.

Thirteen Ways to get in Front of Your Ideal Clients

  1. Write Articles – Get articles placed in newsletters and trade magazines that your ideal clients read.
  2. Forums – Answer questions posted on forums, write articles and start discussions.
  3. Freebies – Create a free report, white paper, tip sheet, eBook for members of your ideal clients profile to receive when they sign up for your newsletter.
  4. Blog Posts – Offer to write guest posts on the blogs that your ideal clients read and create your own blog.
  5. Press Releases – Create eClasses, new services, special reports, eBooks, white papers and submit press releases to the places where your ideal clients hang out. Submit your press releases to trade magazines, online magazines, associations and blogs.
  6. Speaking Engagements – Offer to speak or give workshops to local chapters of the associations that your ideal clients attend.
  7. Networking – Attend networking events where your ideal clients network, volunteer to serve on committees to become known by members.
  8. Advertising – Place ads on websites, blogs, trade magazines, radio and other places where your ideal clients frequent.
  9. Radio – Get interviewed on radio shows that your ideal clients listen or host your own internet radio show.
  10. Referrals – Ask your ideal clients to refer others to your business and let them know what type of clients that you are looking for.
  11. Podcasts/Videos– Create podcasts and/or videos answering questions frequently asked by prospects.
  12. Slideshare – Create slideshare presentations for your prospects to view on topics that are of interest to them. Answer questions that they have or breakdown seminars that you have given into several short slideshare presentation.
  13. Webinars – Create live or on-demand webinars for prospects to view. If you create, live webinars don’t forget to give attendees an opportunity to ask questions.

When looking to reach your ideal clients remember that it is not about you it is about them. Make sure that you are addressing their needs and concerns.

Figure out where to reach prospects online:

Now you have a profile of you ideal client and you know something about them. Now it is time to locate the places online where they hang out. Go to the social networks they use and get involved. Join the online groups that they join. Get published in the magazines that they read. Be everywhere your prospects are.

Have a Goal in Mind

Once you have decided on who your ideal clients are. Have a goal on how many new clients you are trying obtain. How many prospects do you need to reach in order to gain one client?

Example:

Let’s continue with the professional coach example. You know that for every 25 prospects that hat inquire about your services five are good leads. Of those five leads, one becomes a client and you want to add two new clients every month. Then you know that you need a minimum of 50 prospects to and 10 solid leads to gain two new clients every month.

But, how many visitors to your website or blog do you need in order to gain 50 inquires. This is where you need to spend a little time monitoring your website traffic.

You have your inbound marketing plan in place and you are implementing the tactics that you have chosen.

Tactics chosen:

  • Blog (posting 3 times a week)
  • Monthly newsletter
  • Monthly Video (Short 15 minutes or less each)
  • Semiannual webinar
  • A free report
  • Bi-monthly press releases
  • Quarterly slideshare presentation
  • Lead nurturing email program

 

Measure Your Progress against Your Goals

After you begin your inbound marketing program, you create a spreadsheet of your daily traffic and contacts or inquires made concerning your services.

You do this for six months and notice that when you average 4000 new visits per month, you get about 80 new newsletter subscribers. Of the 80 new newsletter subscribers, you get two new clients within 30 days.

This gives you a measurement of how many new visits you need to gain at least two new clients each month.

Listen up; This is What You Really Need to Do

You need to give inbound marketing time to work. You need to apply the KISS principle and monitor your progress. Start out with a manageable goal and list of tactics to implement. When you are comfortable then add something else to the mix.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to promote the hell out of your content.

Share your content on all the networking sites that you have signed up for, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Stumbledupon, and Digg. Don’t forget to ask everyone to share your content. Get it out in front of your potential customer’s and keep showing up.

Hell if you have to create a comic book, run around in your underwear, do whatever it takes to get your content noticed and to keep readers coming back for more.

Your Turn:

Have you developed your ideal client profile?

How do you go about generating quality leads?

What I want you to do next:

Leave a comment on my Blog, like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service  Firms  and sign up for my NEWSLETTER

Six Tips to Building Relationships with Prospects Online

relationships 2

The old adage is that it takes seven touches to prospects before they began to recognize your business. Before you can turn a prospect into a customer, you must first build a relationship with your prospects. The goal is to use those seven touch points to build a relationship with prospects and turn them into to customers and then into loyal referring customers. Well things have changed and it takes about 20 touch points to build a relationship with prospective clients.

How do you go about creating touch points to reach potential customers?

The lists of ways to reach customers are endless and only limited by your imagination. In this post, I will cover six ways to reach potential customers repeatedly.

  1. Public Relations: The goal here is to get your business noticed and people. You can begin by creating a buzz piece that you can send a press release out and offer free to the press and your readers. Create an online media room with all of your press releases, downloadable pictures, frequently asked questions sheet, list of quotes, topics that you are an expert on and a list past interviews. Offer as much information as possible that will make it easier for a writer or interviewer to get in touch with you. Public Relations is great for building awareness for your business among prospects and journalist.

 

  1. Blogs: Create a blog covering your subject of expertise. Make it easy for readers to subscribe via RSS, email, twitter and facebook. Offer information that is useful to the reader. Give them a reason to subscribe and provide a way for them to refer your blog to their friends or social networks. Use your blog to showcase your expertise and as a way for prospective clients to get to know you and your personality.

Don’t be afraid to let your readers know things about you, like your  hobbies, favorite  foods, etc. The goal is to get readers to feel as if they know you even though they have never met you in person. People do business with people they know and continue to business with people they like.

  1. eNewsletter: Newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with prospects and clients because they have already shown that they are interested in what you have to say by signing up for your newsletter. You can choose the frequency in which you contact readers by giving them an option on how frequently they choose to receive your newsletter whether daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly or quarterly.

You can use eNewsletter to find out what your readers interests are by sending them surveys, asking them for comments and read polls.

 

  1. Facebook: Create a facebook fan page and update the page often. Let fans know of events you are hosting, places where you will be speaking, and news that they can use. Ask your fans to refer your fan page to their friends. Use your fan page as a place to develop discussions and interact with your fans.

Facebook is a great way to develop a personal relationship with your fans. Post pictures, ask questions, ask for fan involvement. Ask them to post pictures, vote of favorite pictures and share your content.

 

  1. Twitter: Help your followers find information that will be of interest to them. Send out tweets of information about your business but also helping information that others are making available. If you read an article that you feel will be useful to your reader, make sure to retweet the article.

Twitter is a great way to drive followers back to your blog and facebook page. You can also hold conversations with twitter followers, ask them to retweet your messages and hold tweet fests with followers.

 

  1. LinkedIn: Join LinkedIn groups that your prospects are members of, post helpful articles, and join the discussions. Answer questions posted on your topic of expertise. Get recommendations and give recommendations to others. Ask members of your network for referrals and use the business search function to find businesses of interest to prospect.

LinkedIn is a great place to connect with potential prospects and lead them to your blog. Facebook page and turn them into followers on Twitter. You Linkedin To connect with past customers, co-workers, to get recommendations and ask for introductions to people you want to meet. You can also showcase your expertise by answering questions and getting involved in the groups available on LinkedIn.

 

Your Turn:

How are you developing relationships online?

What platforms are you using successfully?

What I want you to do next:

Leave a comment on my Blog, like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for Professional Service  Firms  and sign up for my NEWSLETTER