You may have the best optometry practice, insurance business, health care practice, or any type of small business in the Kansas City area or anywhere. But, you will not be successful if customers do not come to buy your products or services. This is why most businesses market themselves. You want your efforts to succeed and you would prefer that marketing your business does not eat up all of your profits. In this regard, here are the basic steps to developing an effective and cost-effective marketing plan.
You may have all sorts of good ideas about marketing your small business. But, to make sure that you keep things organized, effective, and within budget follow these steps to developing an effective and cost-effective marketing plan.
• Research your market
• Target your efforts
• Fine tune your message to fit your exact business
• Analyze your competition
• Choose one or more marketing approaches
• Set your budget
• Track your marketing efforts versus their success
On one hand, this part is pretty simple. You are an optometrist and check people’s vision to prescribe glasses. Your market is, in theory, anyone who needs to have their vision checked. However, folks entering middle age commonly need bifocals. So, you want to target this demographic with your marketing efforts. You have a subspecialty in helping people avoid macular degeneration which becomes a big problem in later life. This is another group to market but with a different approach. Younger sports enthusiasts need protective eye wear and should be approached differently than the older folks. The point is that in any business there are specific customers with specific needs and knowing the breakdown will help you market more effectively.
Focusing your efforts where they will make the most difference is why you spend time investigating the potential market or markets for your business. The message you use to interest a middle-aged person in your services will differ from the message you use to attract an elderly person or the one for an athletic young adult. And, you are more likely to use social media to get your message out to young adults while middle-aged adults may be more reachable with email campaigns or even direct mailing.
Yes, you should think of your particular business and your unique products and services as a brand. In this fast-moving day and age, we often have only a moment to snag someone’s attention before they move on. Does your health care practice want to be known as another doctor’s office or a health care specialty center? Do you just sell insurance policies or do your protect families from devastating financial loss? Does your optometry practice check old folks for visual problems or help guard against progressive blindness? Positioning your brand can make all the difference once you have researched your market and are ready to target your efforts.
Yes, you are not the only insurance agent, optometry practice, or health care practice in your area. How do your services and products differ from those of your colleagues and competitors? How do your prices compare for comparable products and services? Are you available on weekends or evenings? Do you specialize in areas that your competitors cannot match? How to your competitors portray themselves in their marketing efforts and how can you position yourself to do better?
At first glance, it may seem a little strange that step five out of seven for developing a market plan is actually choosing your specific approach. But, to get the message right and to put it where your customers will see it and respond requires preparation. Once you have done your homework you can decide on specific marketing approaches. Direct mailings are still useful in this day and age as a piece of mail in hand cannot be “deleted” like an incoming email. On the other hand, a big advantage of an email that the customer opens and reads is that it can contain hyperlinks that take them directly to your website or to a sales funnel.
Social media like Facebook are great ways to gain attention and maintain it with an interactive approach. But, this requires that someone manages the social media posting and deals with responses.
Coupons are still a great way to bring cost-conscious customers to your door. And, well-advertised events can be great attention-getters for the right business.
In today’s electronic age every small business needs a website. And it should be search engine optimized. SEO is the key to bringing readers to your website and relevant content is what will keep them there as well as turn them into customers.
One reason that you will target your marketing is to send your message is to the right people. The other is to avoid spending all of your money before you get any results! At Exigo Business Solutions we encourage our clients to a bookkeeping method called Profit First and use QuickBooks for doing their books. A strong point of this approach is that businesses learn to effectively budget all items including their marketing efforts.
Decide on a measured and targeted approach and then track the results.
Keep Track and Make Changes as Needed
Probably the most important step to developing an effective and cost-effective marketing plan is to track both the results and the costs.
If you use the internet to place paid ads, track the number of conversions. If you jazz up your website with lots of good content and search engine optimization, use a tool like Google Analytics to track visits to your site. Or, for better and more extensive help tracking your website use the tool we use at Exigo Business Solutions, Moz Pro from Moz.com.
There never is any perfect marketing campaign. And, what works now may not work next month or year. The money and time you spend tracking your results will pay dividends. When done approach does not work, change it. When another approach is bringing in business, don’t be afraid to fine tune it. As an example, when you send email campaigns split test your subject lines and then only send the ones with the most opens and clicks.
If you need help with developing a marketing plan and tracking the results, contact us at Exigo Business Solutions for assistance.