Marketing is one of those business activities that you are damned if you do or damned if you don’t.
There is no such thing in marketing that one size fits all. Every business has a unique personality because their customers are unique.
Through the years, I’ve met thousands of businesses. So when I’m asked about marketing for success, I’m reminded about the great companies I worked with that planned for success.
These companies built a marketing strategy with the understanding it is centered on what a customer needs and wants. The strategy is referred to as a Customer-Centric marketing strategy.
One of the many advantages to this strategy, especially for a small business, is to have their customers tell you what they want next. I recommend the management review this strategy three or four times per year.
Strategy Vs. Tactical
It’s easier to change tactics in any given calendar year using a customer-centric strategy. I gave you a clue in the previous paragraph.
Maintaining a focus on customer needs alerts the marketing and management teams that customer changes are occurring and must be addressed.
Ask any small business marketing employee on how to tackle change and the usual response is “today’s customers are never stationary.” Your key employees must brace themselves for change, because it always happens. This is when the marketing tactics can take center stage.
Here are five tactics, which help define what is a successful small business, and a few ideas on how to put tactics to work for you.
- Smart businesses that market and promote on a consistent schedule,
- The smart business follows a set tactical plan during good times and bad,
- Do the best job of maintaining business when business is slow,
- Attracting new business when others are not,
- And navigating the peaks and valleys so often associated with a small business.
In the first tactic, what is meant by a consistent basis? There’s no excuse not to market and promote daily. There are many social media tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, or shoot out an email to prospect.
Make a phone call or two. There are many other traditional marketing tactics as well. Call a customer to make sure the product arrived on the stated date. Make every day a customer action day. Challenge a fellow employee on who will reach more customers and maybe, the most sales.
Set a calendar on a quarterly basis keeps one focused on the tactics. It’s nice to have a big picture in mind, but prepare for change as well. In the good times take more chances with your marketing. In the bad times, rely on analytics to let you know what is working and what must be improved.
Do the best job of maintaining business. Just like healthy eating is good for you, it’s sometimes hard to stick to the marketing calendar when business is slow. This is a great time for motivating the marketing team members to think innovation. Why are some customers still buying? Why are some not? You’ll be pleasantly surprised on what you learn from their communication with customers.
Attracting new business when your competitors are not is a sure signal the time is now to win over their customers. Asking your marketing and selling team to learn why the competitor is not pursuing new customers?
What can you add to your product that increases value and not adds a cost to make your product more attractive? One client I knew used a tactic that “prices are going up soon, so buy now and save.” It turned out that tactic made the competitionto increase costs first, while my client stole quite a few customers by forcing the competitor’s hand before my client even considered a price hike.
The peaks and valleys of any business, other than a monopoly, will always exist. Frequent communication with customers (see customer-centric marketing strategy) can keep your business on the leading edge. Being recognized as an innovator is very beneficial to a company’s brand. This is another good reason why a small business can have a brand and use the image effectively against the competition.
One final thought…
If you maintain your calendar on a quarterly basis, it becomes easier to recognize that a change in the tactical approach is warranted. Remember the start of the recession of 2008 was a major factor of many business failures on not knowing how or when to react to change.
Now it’s your turn. What does your company do to maintain your business growth?
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