Creating a Marketing Plan, Part One: Who Is Your Customer?

In our past blog, I Have My CD, Now What? we discussed why you need a marketing plan.

And we promised to show you how.

In this four-part series, we’ll look at various steps that are integral to planning, building, and executing a marketing plan for your business.

A few decades ago I participated in a community theatre production. Once we had our parts, our first exercise was to “get to know” our characters. We did that by creating a back story for them. In the script we found clues to why the characters were the way they were and we made up back stories to explain their current state.

At the time I wondered why we were bothering. What we wrote would never be performed or revealed in any way.

Then I realized that none of us could “be” our characters if we didn’t really know them. “Being” a character is far different from “doing” a character, as anyone who has sat through a badly performed play can attest.

It’s the same with customers. We can’t serve them, meet their needs or sell to them if we don’t really know them.

The first step to creating a marketing plan is to get to know your ideal customer.

Who is your ideal customer?

The answer is NOT “everyone”, despite being the most common answer!

In our world of infinite choices and combinations you and your product will never appeal to “everyone” so get over it!

Here are some tips for discovering your customer.

  1. Think about one person who was most excited about you or your product. What does he/she look like? What does she want, need, have, etc.? What does he drive? What makes her heart sing? How many children does she have or does she even have children? Does he cook? Does she travel? Does he play an instrument? What does she read?
  2. Think about what you can do for her. Don’t even think about what she can do for you (buy your product) before you know why she wants/needs your product. You waste your resources and risk alienating a potential future customer when you’re not sure. How will your product improve her life/health/happiness?
  3. Think about why. Why does your ideal customer care about you or your product? (Or, what would it take to get her to care about you and your product?) What values do you share with your customer?

This is not a comprehensive list of questions because all our customers are different. The important part is to ask questions. Make no assumptions.

You might find it helps you to draw a picture of your ideal customer or create a collage of everything your ideal customer cherishes.

Caution: if you do not complete this painting-the-picture-of-your-ideal-customer step all future steps are at your peril! It is imperative that you know the wherefores and the whys of your customers’ buying decisions if you ever hope to sell them anything. You can only accomplish this if you know them intimately.

Once you’ve arrived at honest accurate answers to this question, “Who is your ideal customer?” you’re ready for Part Two of Creating a Marketing Plan, Finding Your Ideal Customer.

Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer
www.S2Seminars.ca

S2 Seminars, Grow Exponentially – use both sides of your brain!, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, contact us today.

 

 

Do I Need a Facebook Page?

Social media has revolutionized the business world.

Having a Facebook page can be an integral part of your marketing plan. Here are four reasons to have a Facebook Page for your business:

1. Conversations:

Companies can now speak directly to their customers and receive feedback, in essence having conversations.

The value of a conversation is immeasurable.

Think back to a recent conversation you had. The sharing of ideas may have changed your perspective on an issue. Perhaps your understanding of the opposite view has grown. You may have changed your actions as a result of that conversation.

By having conversations with your customers through a Facebook page you can learn what your customers want or need. You can tailor your product or service to meet their expectations.

2. Being Human:

When companies advertise, they tend to use “Adspeak”. We’ve all heard Adspeak, it’s what makes ads sound like advertisements.

And most of us have learned to tune out that kind of talk.

On a Facebook page you can have fun, be real, and show your vulnerability, all human characteristics not usually found in adspeak.

3. Building a Community:

The most successful businesses build communities they can go back to again and again with new products and services. These communities often consist of raving fans, the ultimate customer. Build community by:

  • Posting useful, relevant and interesting links
  • Asking fans to contribute with comments
  • Organizing contests and promotions
  • Providing a place to leave reviews and other feedback
  • Offering incentives for activity on your page

4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

Having a Facebook page for your small business can be an effective way to direct traffic to your business website and blog. Activities on your public Facebook page can also give you an SEO boost when they are indexed by search engines.

Building and using a Facebook page is one of the tools covered in our workshop 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoestring Budget.

Shelley Goldbeck, 
www.S2Seminars.ca

S2 Seminars, Eradicating Poverty in Artists by Teaching Business Skills, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, attend our workshop, 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoe-String Budget.

Blogging for Business

Businesses that blog get 70% more leads than businesses that don’t.

I read this in a marketing newsletter a few years ago. It surprised me and maybe that’s why it stuck in my head.

Since then I’ve learned that consistent blogging is useful for building your brand. It makes sense that the more you contact your customers, the more they trust you. Ideally they think of you when they need your product or service.

I put this to the test last spring when I teamed up with two expert gardeners to create a series of workshops on growing food. We were on a shoestring budget so we blogged every other day to start. Then we went to twice a week, then weekly.  It wasn’t too difficult with three of us contributing. (See www.GrowFoodCalgary.com.)

The results were amazing! Within days of launching our blog we shot up to the top of search engine rankings on many important keywords.

Of course blogging wasn’t the only tactic in our strategy but I became a believer in blogging. Now I counsel all entrepreneurs to blog.

5 Reasons to blog:
  1. Blogging is an inexpensive way to have conversations with your customers and potential customers.
  2. Blogging is a personal touchpoint. To build a brand (bond) with your customers, you need many touchpoints. Personal touchpoints like blogs outperform ads.
  3. Blogging helps you position yourself as an expert. Increased credibility leads to trust, which leads to sales.
  4. Blogging boosts Search Engine Optimization (which means people looking for you or what you have to offer can find you by inputting certain words into a search engine.) SEO almost takes care of itself when you blog. Save money on SEO by simply writing good content that is relevant to your audience.
  5. Blogging leads to more income. Better relationships with your customers translates into increased revenue.

Are you convinced to blog yet?

You’ve decided to start blogging, but how?

10 Tips on Blogging Successfully
  1. Brainstorm topics. Create a list on paper or your favourite device of all topics, catchy titles, questions, anything related to you, your art, and the people you’d like to buy your art.
  2. Select a blog provider. There are many. This blog is on WordPress. Choose from dozens of free templates and start almost immediately.
  3. Begin writing your first blog. Choose a topic that you know well from your list. Create an outline: Here’s one way: Grab your audience with a good title, hook them with a great opening, tell them an engaging story, make a  compelling  point, and finish by helping your audience apply it to their lives.
  4. Keep it short. 350 to 500 words is enough. The thought of writing a huge article can be daunting and cause procrastination and paralysis!
  5. Read it out loud. It’s amazing how stilted our written work can become. You’re having a conversation so keep it real.
  6. Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit mercilessly, removing any words that don’t need to be there. Check spelling. Improve grammar. Choose stronger verbs.
  7. Enlist an editor/proofreader. A fresh set of eyes make a difference. (Your spouse or co-worker will do!)  We tend to get wrapped up in our work and we miss errors.
  8. Include a good quality image. Ideally you have your own pictures but accessing free and low cost images is easy. Readers are more likely to read blogs with images.
  9. Do not neglect the details. In WordPress, they provide a TAGS section where you can input keywords. This step is vital for Search Engine Optimization.  A well-written blog will include words and phrases that your audience will use in their searches. (See the tags for this blog below).
  10. Add blogging to your calendar. For example: make an appointment to write your blog outline on Thursday. Flesh it out Friday. Edit Saturday. Share with your editor/proofreader  Sunday. Post Monday. The most effective blogs are consistent. Adding blogging to your calendar helps you be consistent.
Blogging Bonus

Besides creating a stronger bond with your customers, positioning yourself as an expert,  and attracting new customers, here is another bonus to blogging:

If you were to blog weekly, (with two weeks vacation!) in one year, you have 50 chapters in your book!

Some of the best-selling books were born from the author’s weekly blog or email newsletter.

Writing a book is a great way to position yourself as an expert. If you’ve always wanted to write a book, blogging could be the push you need to get going.

Blogging is good business. Are you convinced yet?

 

Shelley Goldbeck is a partner in S2Seminars, Eradicating Poverty in Artists by Teaching Business Skills.