Start Your Own Business – Marketing and Business Plans

Start Your Own Business - Marketing and Business PlansIf you are ready to start your own business or are already started but need hand getting going, this post is for you!

Most people who start a new business spend way too much time focusing on the wrong things. They dink around for months wondering what their logo should look like or what color their website should be. They might even order business cards before they know exactly what they are selling or how to position their business.

(these are the guys and gals at networking who have a fan deck of cards depending on what they are trying to sell today!)

If all this flailing around sounds at all like you, STOP!

Turn off your cell phone, shut down your email and read this entire post before you go any further. Yes, there is a pitch at the end for my workbook, but in between is all the knowledge and information that I have gotten over the years from talking with almost a 1,000 small business owners and entrepreneurs

Where To Start

When you start your own business, you have all the options in the world. The purpose of running your own company is to do what you like, instead of having to work for “the man” and do what someone else dictates all day long. Problem is, we all tend to go about it the wrong way. We try and figure out what people want to buy and then squish ourselves into that, selling more and more and getting sadder and sadder over the years.

Instead you should look at your strengths and skills, building a company around what your core competencies are.

Exercise

  • Write down your sales strategy (how you like to sell)
  • Your strengths as a person and as a leader
  • Your business objectives for the next three months

Lastly, write down your ONE main objective for the next three month marketing cycle. Really, you can only have one main goal to work towards for 3 months (it can have parts, but overall just one main goal!)

Niche-ing Down

When you start your business, it seems like it would be a great idea to “go broad” and see what people are interested in buying. Heck, you might even ask them what they need and try to fulfill that right? WRONG!

Today more than ever it is important that you know EXACTLY what you are selling and EXACTLY which target market is going to buy it. Think about it, there are BILLIONS of internet sites, MILLIONS of business around the world and probably THOUSANDS of people who are trying to sell something similar to what you are. The only way to cut through all that clutter is to be super clear about your product offerings and know exactly who you are selling them to.

For example, the workbook that goes along with this post is made for small business owners and entrepreneurs. It is not intended to be a reference for big business or multinational corporations (that is not my expertise).

Exercise

  • What is your industry?
  • What parts of your industry do you like the best?
  • Who do you like to work with the most?
  • If you could only work with one kind of person for the rest of your life, who would it be?
  • What could you sell them specifically?

Niche marketing statement. Once you have completed this exercise, you will be able to write a niche marketing statement. It should be a declaration of your products, who you are selling to and what they like. The niche marketing statement for my workbook is, “I sell marketing planning seminars, workbooks and consulting to small business owners, entrepreneurs, manufacturers and realtors who love marketing.”

Who You Are Selling To

There is an old saw in the advertising business, “selling to everyone is selling to no one”. When you start your own business it can seem like a great idea to work with anyone who comes along. What could it hurt and there is money coming in the door, right? Well doing the wrong work can lead you down a path that will not be the best fit for your ongoing business AND at the same time takes your eye off the prize of your “real” goals.

One of the people in our networking group has a super funny saying…she sells cosmetics and her perfect customer is “anyone with skin”, which of course is everyone on the planet! While hers is a bit tongue-in-cheek, unfortunately most people starting out really will work with anyone. They are desperate to make some sales and get things going and are not looking for an ideal customer, more-so they are looking for anyone who will fog a mirror.

Perfect Customer ProfileTM

When you are working on who to sell to, you need to think about things like their age and marital status (normal demographic data), but you also need to know about their lives. What they do when they are working and when they are off. Who their family is and what they like to do on Friday night.

It is impossible to write great sales copy when all you want to do is sell your own “stuff”. Instead you need to turn it around and figure out what your ideal customer actually needs, develop a product to meet that need and position it in the marketplace so she recognizes herself when she sees it!

For example the demographics for who will probably buy my workbook are: College educated woman in her late thirties to early 50’s, who has just started a business. There is a good chance she is married. But that barely scratches the surface! Here are two different types of women that I have worked with in the past. As you will see, they are very different and I would need to use entirely different marketing messages to reach each one:

Potential Customer #1

Start Your Own Business BannerThis first gal, let’s call her Chris is 46 and married. I know that she has had a job-job in the past that she was good at and is feeling like a fish out of water right now, although as soon as she is up and running she will be right back in her element. Her heroes are women like Mary Kay and Oprah who have dominated the business world without becoming “bitches” but who are super strong and powerful women.

Her husband is probably a little confused right now as he doesn’t recognize this new entrepreneur in the woman he married. The kids are a little resentful that Mom has to work more at home and she is feeling pulled in a million directions and like she is not being effective at anything anymore.

The marketing message I will use with this gal is to “stop pulling out your hair” or “running in a million directions at once”. The workbook will solve a problem of how to get all her thoughts together in one place and get her on the road to a successful business fast.

Potential Customer #2

Our second gal, let’s call her Lyndsy is 39 and single. She has been in a committed relationship for 5 years now but is not actually sure where it is going. She has saved up a bunch of money (some of it was earmarked for her wedding but that doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon) so she is ready to start a new business. She got her real estate license, signed up with a broker, but now is not even sure what she should be doing next. Some of the people in her office have fancy brochures, some are doing open houses, but she is not sure how to proceed. She needs a plan!

The marketing message I will use with this gal is to “make a plan and work it!” She just needs to set herself some goals and tasks and get started. It is funny, years ago when I went into real estate I knew I wanted to work with buyers because I could prospect them easily on the internet. After working with a couple though, I found out I like the seller side much better! Sometimes when you are starting out, it is best to know what you like to like to do and then craft your business around your strengths instead of trying to squish yourself into someone else’s idea of a perfect business.

As you can see, they both are in the same general demographic, but the way that I have to market to each is very different. Taking the time to figure out who you would like to work with the most is vital to making sure that your business launches well right from the start!

What To Sell – Product Development

The next thing to consider is what you are selling. If you are doing something like financial services it can seem easy, you are “selling” life insurance policies. But are you really? How many people do you think are just going to walk up and want to buy a policy, or car, or house. Instead you need to find out what your product does that is of value to a customer! Key things to consider are:

  • Key features of your product
  • Key problems that it solves
  • The one product you are going to sell
  • Your income goals
  • How many of the product you will have to sell to meet those goals
  • Competitive pricing in the marketplace

Knowing these key metrics will help you position your product in the marketplace and sell more faster!

Creating Business Plans

I have found that most guides for creating business plans (or marketing plans) focus on money. They are totally about projections and estimates, profits and loses. Having worked in the real world for a very long time, I can tell you that EVERY projection that you will make about your business will be wrong. You will “guess” that you will sell X number of Y and then have to revise it all over again.

Business planning is great. Goal setting and affirmations are are a big part of my workbook and I truly feel that help get us where we are going. But business planning, setting a profit and loss report, and doing detailed projected future earnings is a waste of time if you are a small business owner or entrepreneur just starting out.

When you are starting out you need to make sure you have a clear plan for 1) what you are selling and 2) how you are going to be marketing it. Those are the key ingredients for making money. You can have all the business plans, charts and graphs in the world, but truly, nothing happens until somebody sells something.

I have worked with almost 1,000 entrepreneurs over the years and I will tell you that rarely is the problem a lack of effort or that they didn’t have the right spreadsheet. Instead, problems came from a lack of focus, of not knowing what they should be doing RIGHT NOW to sell more and what they needed to invest in marketing-wise to make more money so they could market more, so they could make more money.

Over 15 Years and 1,000 Conversations

I have spent the last 15 years working with entrepreneurs and small business owners, talking with them about what is going right in their business and what is going wrong. I have heard about their stunning achievements and their dismal failures. We have planned, strategized, re-planned and re-strategized right to six figure businesses that they are proud to own today!

If you are looking for a “How To Be Successful In Business Manual”, this is the one. There are worksheets covering everything we talked about in this post as well as tips, tricks and tactics that will get you up and running fast (and in the right direction!)

The Last Business Planning Guide You Will Ever Need

How To Create A Kick Ass, Take No Prisoners Marketing Plan

There are marketing plans and then there is a MARKETING PLAN. Today we are going to talk about all the steps that you need to take to create a kick ass, take no prisoners marketing plan that will get you more customers and make you more money than you ever dreamed possible!

Warning: Just a word of caution, this post will make you very successful at whatever you choose to promote. Please don’t just skim over the first parts. This is totally the, “I got to the top of the ladder and found out it was against the wrong wall” if you are not completely sure about what you are trying to accomplish.

How To Create A Kick Ass, Take No Prisoners Marketing PlanHaving cruised the internet to find out what the “marketing plan template” competition is offering I was pleasantly surprised to find that they stink. While their process and format might work in business school or be the bomb in corporate America with 12 levels of management, this type of marketing plan is for business owners who will be implementing it themselves or perhaps working with someone on staff or outsourced to get it done. It is also for someone who is less concerned with “process” and more concerned with making money, getting leads and making sales.

How To Do Your Marketing Plan

Okay, we are ready to get going! First off, if you are really going to do this, please put down your phone, stop checking emails and get out a tablet of paper to write on. OF COURSE you will not wind up with a complete marketing plan in 30 minutes like some people promise, but you should be able to get a good start and a plan or path for which way to go.

What Are You Selling

The very first thing you need to do is is to know EXACTLY what you are selling. I have talked with almost a thousand small business owners and very few knew exactly what they were selling. There are two ways to think about this:

  • Selling an exact product or service that people are looking for like jewelry, business coaching, homes for sale or any other number of things that people are actively buying.
  • Selling the answer to a problem like “how to get the man of your dreams” or “becoming a better salesman”.

Sometimes you are better off to sell the factually correct product or service and sometimes you are better off to sell the solution to problem. The one thing never to do is to sell a concept like “security” if you are selling insurance or “beauty” if you are selling makeup. That is too cute and obscure to be a good marketing goal.

So the first thing you need to figure out is 3 Things You Are Selling. Write them down in pencil for now.

Selling online.

If you are reading my blog on the internet or a phone then you are aware that much of marketing is done via the internet these days. You probably did not just type in the whole long url to get here, you might have come from a Google search, seeing a social media post or even being subscribed to my blog feed. All of these ways of finding someone require words, more specifically keywords.

The reason I said to pencil in your three things you are selling is that you need to figure three relevant keywords that will show up in searches on the internet when someone is looking for your product or service. There are two ways to think about picking your keywords:

  • Tiny niche, big fish. If you want to have very fast results, pick a “long tail keyword” that is very specific and has little competition. This will allow you to rank highly for a term quickly and get eyeballs on your marketing fast.
  • Big niche, lots of opportunity. The other way to do this is to pick a big hairy audacious keyword and then work for a while to rank highly for that on Google and share it frequently on social media to get backlinks and gain authority about that term.

Whichever way you pick, you want to take your three products or services you are selling and make sure to research each to know what keywords you should actually target for those terms.

Who Are You Selling To

This is the most important thing to consider when doing your marketing plan. If you don’t know who you are selling to you cannot effectively plan how to market to them. Gone are the days when you could head out to social media, make friends and sell “stuff”. Today you need to be laser focused on who you are trying to reach and where they are going to be spending their time, online or off. Because of all the competing marketing messages (think email, online, texting, billboards, postcards, networking), you have to make sure that all of your efforts are concentrated on reaching your exact customer, exactly where they are.

We have written whole books on how to figure out who your perfect customer might be, but to get you started check out, Customer Demographics Versus The Perfect Customer Profile. This will help you find your current customer demographics as well as the “perfect customer” who will buy and buy.

What Is Your Budget

The next thing to consider is how much do you have to spend. I have a goal to spend about $1,000 a month in marketing across all of the channels, your budget may be higher or lower than that. In this number I include the cost of buying training programs or getting coaching on how to do some specific kind of marketing.

Here are a few top level ideas for different budgets:

$0-$500 A Month Marketing Budget

If you are working with a very small (or non-existent) budget, you are going to have to put in some sweat time. Most of the marketing that is done on the internet can be done for very limited resources so that is going to be our go-to marketing spot for you! Some things that you can do with a limited budget include:

  • Blogging
  • Social media
  • Guest article writing
  • Networking
  • Making videos
  • Attending local industry events
  • Learning SEO
  • Writing Ebooks

for a comprehensive list of free marketing ideas check out our 100FreeMarketingIdeas.com

$500-$1,000 A Month Marketing Budget

If you have a little more money and want to outsource some of your marketing tasks, you can definitely find help. A decent amount of online exposure can be had for around $500/month. Conversely if you like doing marketing, you could take those funds and buy marketing training, using your money to increase your knowledge and expertise. Some things that you can do with this budget include:

  • Paid ads on Google or Facebook (LinkedIn has a minimum of $500 so we wouldn’t recommend putting all your eggs in one basket)
  • Sending postcards or direct mail
  • Start a podcast
  • Buying marketing training
  • Traveling to industry events
  • Paid ads in local papers or magazines
  • Flyers or brochures
  • Having videos professionally done

for a comprehensive overview of free and paid options, check out our ebook, 100 Marketing Ideas: Our Top Marketing Tips For The Web, Social, Video and More

$1,000+

Now you are in the “get a professional or in house person to do your marketing” range. If you are spending more than a few hundred dollars a month on paid advertising it is well worth your money to pay for someone who is knowledgable in that area to manage it for you. Additionally, you should be outsourcing your social media or blogging (you can still write the content but have them post and SEO them professionally).

What Are Your Assets

While budget is definitely a consideration when figuring out your marketing plan, more-so is taking a look at what your assets are. I like to write which includes books, blog posts, and articles for local magazines. I also don’t mind making videos if I can do screen captures instead of them being with me in them. When you are getting your marketing plan together, it is vital that you play to your (or your team’s) strengths and weaknesses. If you set a goal to make 7 videos a week and hate doing them, it will not work out as planned!

Here are some character traits and what you could do with those talents!

  • Great at building relationships – focus on Facebook, in person networking and your email newsletter (you can love up on your people!)
  • A total ham and show-off – become a speaker, make videos with you in them, start a podcast, attend industry events where you can make key connections
  • Methodical and precise – LinkedIn would be a great place to make industry connections, do how-to videos without you in them, schedule your social media precisely

The key to an effective marketing campaign is playing to your strengths, even if you are outsourcing parts of it. For example, we do social media marketing for clients, but it works most effectively for the people who are willing to make videos which we then turn into blog posts, sharing on social media and spreading across the internet. Several of our clients have said they would like to make videos but that is just not in their wheelhouse so they never got done.

Setting Targets

You need to know what your goal is for all this marketing. A mistake that I see frequently is that a business owner will say that they want “a sale” from their marketing. Now this is great if they have an ecommerce site and are direct selling on the internet. But even for those people, sales often come after a number of different exposures to the product or service.

For example, I wrote this blog post which will have a data collection link so that people can sign up to learn more about my marketing plan template product once it is developed (right now I am just trying to rank for my main keyword, “marketing plan” in anticipation of completing that product). I will probably start with something free and then work my way up to a higher priced item.

Marketing Plan Sales FunnelThis process is called a sales funnel and you should have one too! To the right is what I am doing with mine.

As you can see, I don’t just jump into selling a several thousand dollar consulting program. There are steps along the way that work someone from the top (this blog post) to the bottom, charging progressively higher prices along the way. Rarely will someone do a search, find you on the internet or social and call to say sign me up (although it does happen from time to time). Instead they will do a search, see you have great information and then be looking for the next step in the process. Some next steps could be:

  • Make an inquiry phone call
  • Send in an internet lead or quote request
  • Signup for your email newsletter
  • Request a one-on-one meeting
  • Sign up for a lower priced course or offering

All of these results are part of the sales process. Of the people who sign up for my newsletter, a percentage will buy a marketing plan template. Some of the people who buy a marketing plan template will want to learn more in an online class. Some of them will figure out that they would rather have some help-help and call me for a consultation.

Activities based

Now, marketing is a sexy past time when done at high levels. Getting all dolled up for a photo shoot or buying the latest video camera are fun and festive. Going to networking or speaking at an event is a rush. But now comes the hard part.

None of those marketing efforts work without having a plan for each. For networking your plan could be to add them to your database, send a video email to say high, follow that up with a phone call and then send a personal note. Each an every person that you meet should be run through that process.

You should have a plan for every bit of your marketing process. Doing social? You should know how often you posting to each site each day, when you are going to check your messages, how many people you are going to follow and more. For bloggers you should have an editorial calendar and a rock solid plan for what content you are going to be writing and then what you are going to do to share that content socially, numerous times over the following weeks and months.

To do: Make a plan for each day of the week listing the marketing tasks you have to do each day!

Marketing Plan Accountability and Ridiculous Goals

So, now you know what to do. You have an idea of what you are selling, some thoughts about what your marketing plans are going to be and an activities based plan for what you are going to do every day.

Failure is not an option. First off, don’t give yourself permission to fail. Laid out the way we do, it is easy to see that taking 20-60 minutes a day to do your marketing efforts is extremely possible and profitable. But that old saying is true, what is easy to do is also easy not to do. It is easy to think, “I am busy so I will just skip following today” or “so I missed a blog post this week, that is not the end of the world”. That kind of “slipping” will lead to your marketing being a lackluster, half assed effort that is just annoying, not effective. Don’t do that.

Ridiculous Goals. Right now I am on a quest to do a video (or two) every day of the week until the end of the year. That will mean that I have well over 100 additional videos (some of which are included in blog posts and some that are shared on social). The thought of making 100 videos is overwhelming, but if you just think of making one video a day, that effort seems easy and do-able. Set huge goals for yourself but break them down into daily tasks that are doable.

Thank you so much for reading about how to create a kick ass, take no prisoners marketing plan! If you would like to find out more about our products or services give me a call today (727) 415-9165

How To Create A Kick Ass Marketing Plan