As with everything in life, you have to start with what you have. The first piece of business that I get down to when I start to work with a new marketing client, whether it is for a book or a business, is a marketing resources audit which is my fancy way of saying questionnaire. The audit asks basic questions, like what is their website URL, how long they’ve been in business, what services they provide, mailing list and social media numbers, etc. It also includes a self-evaluation of their marketing skills.
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The audit is our starting point. An important part of any marketing plan is to track and measure results and in order to do that, you have to know where you are starting from. Some of my clients freak out a bit—they don’t have a mailing list or even a website. I tell them not to worry if they don’t have a lot of the pieces in place. You start where you are—I just need to know where you are.
Even if you’ve been in business for years, you may not have all the data that I ask for on the audit, and that’s okay. In fact, I’d fall over if someone was doing everything on those pages and knew all their numbers. (Those people are out there, but they are rare.) All you and I want to do is establish a baseline to see if the marketing strategies we put in place are working.
The self-evaluation gives me an idea of what the client is capable of doing. If someone is horrendously shy, I am not going to tell them to go out and do speaking gigs or even podcasts. It’s too much pressure, they are most likely going to avoid doing it, and even if they do follow through, they won’t show themselves off in the best light. Why would I ask someone to do something they hate that will only cause them to shoot themselves in the foot?
And that’s why it’s important, when building your marketing plan, to take into account your skills, resources, and personality. I can be outgoing and network, but I prefer to stay home with my laptop, and write. I would never have “cold calling prospects” as part of a marketing plan for myself. I know me; I’m not going to cold call 100 or even 50 people a day (even knowing that only about 10% of them will pick up the phone).
If you don’t have internet skills, you do not want to base all your marketing on building a complex online funnel. I once worked with a woman who wanted to market her business via webinars. Webinars are a great way to introduce yourself to new prospects, show them you know what you’re talking about, and move them into either buying or, if it’s a more expensive offer, a free consultation. However, this woman had very few computer skills. She didn’t know how to create a PowerPoint presentation. She didn’t know how to structure a webinar to lead people into the sale (which was really my job—but she didn’t understand that was the goal). At the time, her social media skills were basic and she didn’t have a business following, just people she actually knew; not insurmountable, but definitely starting from zero. She didn’t want to spend money on a webinar company so she was looking at a limited and user-unfriendly free platform. Every step of the way presented an obstacle for her. EVERY STEP.
You know what would have worked for her, had she been willing? Going to companies that would use her products in bulk and making actual sales calls. She was upbeat, presented well (that’s politically correct for she was pretty), and personable. Her marketing would have consisted of creating a list of companies, contacting them either through mail, email, phone or in-person. Perhaps giving a demo or samples to use. But she was convinced—probably because of the networking groups she was in—that online webinars were the way to go.
Realistically evaluating your marketing resources and skills will determine the best ways for you to market. If you have a small email list and you know that email marketing is one of the best ways to market your business, then one of your marketing strategies is going to be to build your list. But you need to build and nurture your list before you can count on it for sales. If you have a large offline, local network that is a good fit for your products or services, you’re going to leverage that network, perhaps by building a referral program or doing informative talks to those groups, or creating a “bring a business friend” open house/party at your office or a local catering hall.
Your marketing plan should be based on what you’re capable of and comfortable with doing. In addition, you should limit your marketing to two to three strategies that you track and measure to see if they are giving you the results you are looking for. Too many people have a “throw everything against the wall and see what sticks” attitude when it comes to marketing. No. Just no. You’re going to spread yourself too thin, waste time, and blow any marketing budget you might have had.
Creating a marketing plan will help you focus on the important components that you need to have in place: a defined target market, a no-brainer offer, and the means to get your offer in front of your best prospects. My book, The 8 Step Marketing Plan, is designed to get you focused on the marketing strategies most likely to work for you and your unique business.