Books on marketing abound. But between digging through all the good information and trying to put together a small business marketing plan that's both comprehensive and effective, you may find yourself without enough time to do anything else.
Rather than turn small business marketing into a cumbersome and complex process, Mark Satterfield has pulled out the steps necessary for success and crafted them into a simple-to-follow program outlined in his new book, The One Week Marketing Plan: The Set It & Forget It Approach for Quickly Growing Your Business.
A Different Approach to Small Business Marketing
Satterfield, founder and CEO of Gentle Rain Marketing in Alpharetta, Georgia, says he sees small businesses become overwhelmed when they try to create and launch a marketing program.
"There's just so much information," he says. Between social media, email newsletters, websites, and the other vehicles businesses can use, it's enough to make an SMB owner's eyes glaze over. "The problem is that everything sounds like it should work, but how do you put it together?" Satterfield asks. With the possibilities swirling, some small business owners are so overwhelmed they don't really do anything at all. "That obviously doesn't work," Satterfield says.
Many of the books on store shelves focus on attracting new customers. But for people eager for tips, these tomes are often long on theory but short on practical advice. Satterfield aims to change that. "We distilled the marketing program down to five key elements, and if you did one of those a day for five days, you could have a very good marketing system up and running, doing what it's supposed to do," he says.
Target Your Small Business Marketing
Satterfield's marketing plan gets right to the point. On Day One, he says small business owners should start by defining their niche market. The strategy isn't new, but it's often difficult for small business operators to embrace. Satterfield says even he used to resist advice to narrow his target market. "I was the poster child for not niching," he recalls. He didn't want to exclude potential clients, so instead he tried to appeal to everybody.
Unfortunately, that approach usually results in a company that doesn't appeal to anyone. "It's an incredibly noisy world out there," Satterfield explains. Niching really is a necessary step to get the attention you want for your small business, because otherwise you'll likely be ignored.
Before you start worrying about how to cut down your business's audience, Satterfield says it's OK to have more than one niche. "All I'm saying is that the small business marketing needs to be niche focused," he explains. You may choose to target a particular marketing campaign towards one gender, a narrow age group, students returning to college, other business owners in a particular industry, people traveling by car, or any other sort of criteria.
"This is what we call message-to-market match," Satterfield says. "If we're going to get the clients we want, they need to see themselves reflected in your small business marketing materials and in your website. The only way you're able to do that is by niching."
It would be great if shoppers became customers the first time they checked out your website, but that isn't how it usually happens. Satterfield says this is where drip messages, outlined on Day Four, come into play. "It's about building a relationship," he says, and establishing a track record of trust and credibility with customers takes time.
"After people to opt in [to your newsletter], and they give you their name and email in exchange for the free offer, you then send out a series of these drip marketing messages," Satterfield explains. After sending a steady stream of messages for the first seven days, he suggests that you back off the frequency a bit to something appropriate for the particular market you're targeting.
Packed with Small Business Marketing Resources
If you're concerned about turning your small business marketing plan into a reality, Satterfield has packed his book with useful tools. You'll find templates and resources galore, giving you the kind of boots-on-the-ground support you need for small business marketing success.
"I give you the actual templates, and it's really just a matter of inserting your kind of business into that seven-step series and then getting traffic to your website," Satterfield says. Assignments at the end of each chapter keep you on track, and by using what Satterfield describes as his "paint-by-numbers type of approach," you can devise an effective small business marketing strategy.
Julie Knudson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in technology magazines including BizTech, Processor, and For The Record. She has covered technology issues for publications in other industries, from foodservice to insurance, and she also writes a recurring column in Integrated Systems Contractor magazine.
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