Archive for the ‘Strategies’ Category

A Marketing Plan for Small Businesses: Start with the End in Mind

Seven Habits of Highly Effective PeopleIf you’ve read Stephen R Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, you’ll recognize the title of this article. When we start a project or business, it’s important to know why we’re doing it and where we’re going with it.

To state the blatantly obvious for one, we’ll be able to measure progress. More importantly, having a written goal will motivate us when we’re busy being busy.

Here’re 7 points of an effective marketing plan that will get results. Read more…

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Dear Consumer. You’re not Expecting the Real Thing, Are You?

Egg on my faceStupidity 101. Step one: Disregard consumers in favour of profits. Step two: Damage your reputation and lose your business. Read more…

“Consultants Tell You What You Already Know; Only in a Fancy Presentation”

a consultant will help give a clear perspective on something that's already thereClassroom debates. Put a bunch of strong-minded individuals into a room and you’re bound to get many different, sometimes provoking, often equally valid comments. Read more…

Categories: Consulting, Strategies Tags:

Using Social Media as a Business Marketing Strategy

social media isn't scary - honestIf you think Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the many other social media tools out there are only good for catching up on your mates’ latest escapades (or broadcasting your own), guess again. They offer an effective link to your target market and many businesses are using them successfully. Here’s how it can tie in with your marketing strategy.

1. Objectives that Social Marketing Programs achieve effectively

Social media suits branding objectives and encourages participation.

For example, Adventure Boot Camp launched a breast cancer initiative via their Facebook page. Fans are requested to upload a pink message on their profiles for a month to show their support for the cause. In so doing, ABC is enhancing their social responsibility stance and getting fans to actively engage with the ABC brand for a month. By including the ABC brand in the pink message, they’ll be spreading awareness of the company to their fans’ friends too.

2. Research your audience

Find out where they are. If you’re an advocate, you should check out where your target market is. Are they more likely to be on Facebook which is decidedly social? Or will they be more active on LinkedIn which is geared towards professionals? Where you go will impact on your company image too so make sure if you’re wearing a suit that you aren’t ending up at a baggies and bikini braai.

3. Tactics for the effective use of social media platforms

Types of social media include:
Blogging (on a company website or separate blog)
Pro: anyone can publish opinions and ideas and anyone can comment on these. Interaction and information sharing is greatly enhanced.

Micro-blogging (a well-known example is Twitter)
Pro: short messaging with immediacy – ideal for getting urgent action.

Social networking (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn)
Pro: profiles are not limited to people.

Multimedia content sharing (e.g. video via YouTube etc or podcasts [successful education tool])
Pro: creates personal interaction and in some cases, negates the need for a tedious written explanation which can be as difficult to read as it is to write.

Bookmarking, forums, social news sites
Pro: sharing content is easier if you participate in online forums and upload articles etc to bookmarking sites for greater reach.

4. Integration with other marketing tactics

Social media on its own is like a ship without an anchor. By its nature, social media is controlled by the audience and the discussion can be taken anywhere. This is a risky but useful fact. If you can weather the storms that social media can bring your way (in the form of negative experiences), you’re in for smooth sailing with a strong loyalty in your market.

The “anchor” would take over from the interaction at some point. For example, an email strategy or a solid website design that would convert visitors to perform an action (e.g. buy a book or sign up for a newsletter). Here’s how email marketing strategy can be improved using social media.

5. Putting the plan together

Avoid random acts of social. Have a plan and a purpose. Know what you want to get across by having a clear set of goals that social media must achieve within your overall marketing strategy and steer the conversation about your company / product.

Not all businesses are suited to using social media and most will find only certain tactics useful.

Using social media involves long term time investment. Make sure you’re set up for it or don’t do it.

It may start off as a cheap method but costs will increase the more effort you put in. The results will show the input, however, and it’ll always be cheaper than traditional advertising on tv or print editorials.

In your communications, do not make sales pitches – engage your audience using education & information that’s interesting.

Need some help? I recommend this eBook.Social Media 101: Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online (eBook)

Happy connecting!
Claudine at Triquetra Consulting

Marketing Strategies’ Success is in Planning and Measuring

Implementing marketing strategies is like learning to walk
If we never learned to fail, we’d be on knee pads instead of in shoes. Similarly, using marketing strategies is like learning to walk. It’s something that has to be learned. Sometimes you can kiss the sky for the quick impact your latest marketing mix has on your bottom line. Other times, nothing apparent happens and you wonder in despair if you’re wasting your time. You’re not alone.

A common mistake in small business marketing
Measuring traditional marketing strategies isn’t always easy. Let’s use an example. Say you’re a small furniture dealer and you want to boost your sales so you place an ad in the local paper to get customers in the door. That’s great. Nothing wrong there but short of questioning each visitor, how would you know what brought them to your store? Maybe a couple bring in the ad and a few more have come from the coffee shop and decided to browse and others are specifically looking for antique furniture. How successful was your newspaper ad? Was it worth the cost? The cycle is incomplete.

Pre-planning the marketing mix to measure success
What if you did a little basic market research and found out where furniture collectors like to browse? Being collectors, this group would naturally be sought for general furniture advice by peers. What if you went to their browsing grounds, approached them and got a special interest group going once a month and invited these “experts” for discussions, tea & cake? Not only would you gain insight into what they’d like to see in your store (further valuable market research) but if you offered two pieces of cake to any who refer shoppers to you, they’d get you some good leads.

Assuming the cake’s really very good, you have a captive audience and one that’s likely to develop some loyalty to your shop (successful marketing strategies are coupled with relationship-building). We know how word-of-mouth spreads and soon you have quality leads walking into your shop – shoppers who are seriously looking to purchase – and you know how they got there because cake-loving expert, Bob, made sure the shopper tells you he referred them. Your bottom line improves. Bob grows a little thicker around the middle. Browsers see how busy and successful your shop is and they tell friends… See how it works? Then measure your referral sales to the cost of the cake & monthly meetings to evaluate the effort.

Top rules for Marketing strategies:
1. Know who your market is (e.g. serious furniture shoppers)
2. Use a creative approach that’ll attract attention (collectors group & word-of-mouth)
3. Tie the links together (Bob’s happy, customers are happy to find you, you’re happy)
4. Measure the campaign’s success (cost vs revenue)
5. Keep at it – or tweak where necessary – and then keep at it some more

It’s a process
Don’t forget that good marketing strategies’ results mostly aren’t instant. They need to be carefully thought out, executed, adjusted if need be and then measured. If you have measuring tools in place, you’ll have learned a valuable lesson and be able to fine-tune your next effort.

I mentioned “traditional” marketing strategies earlier. Of course if you’re using online methods to advertise and promote your business, the tools are infinitely easier to implement but some small businesses don’t (yet) lend themselves to online efforts.

Regardless of the activities you invest in, without measuring, you won’t know how far you still have to go and moving onwards and upwards requires perseverance with direction.

Think on it: Sometimes the only way to know whether something works is to just try it.

Happy Measuring!