Table of Contents
Chapter 01: Mind Over Matter… It’s All in Your Head
Chapter 02: Marketing Myths and the Blunders They Cause
Chapter 03: Getting it Right: What Marketing Really Means
Chapter 04: Marketing Plan Overview
Chapter 05: Step 1 – Defining Your Future and Assess Your Current Situation
Chapter 06: Step 2 – Shaping Your Identity, Mission, and Vision
Chapter 07: Step 3 – Choosing Your Products and Services
Chapter 08: Step 4 – Identifying Your Target Market
Chapter 09: Step 5 – Turning Features into Benefits
Chapter 10: Step 6 – Take Care of First Things First
Chapter 11: Step 7 – Selecting Your Communication Tactics
Chapter 12: Step 8 – Developing Your Scorecard: How Will You Measure Success?
Chapter 13: Step 9 – Putting it all Together
Appendix: Additional Resources and Templates
Chapter 2: Marketing Myths and the Blunders they Cause
Ninety-five percent of America’s small companies do not make it past their fifth year. And although some of these business owners leave in a blaze of glory after years of sustainable growth, more cease to exist for other reasons.
Most of them exit bone weary and confused. They worked hard and stayed busy and can’t figure out why they have so little to show for their efforts. They’re dog-tired from doing “everything” because they couldn’t trust their unmotivated employees. Many are frustrated and certain that given more time and money, they could have turned things around. And unfortunately, all too many are close to financial ruin.
They are your best friends, brothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, parents, sons, and daughters… intelligent, energetic people with great ideas and innovative products and services. So, why is it that so many of them just can’t make it?
This question is a bit like asking a coroner why someone died. While the bottom line is that his/her heart stopped beating and/or brain stopped functioning, there are hundreds of potential underlying root causes.
So it is when businesses expire. The simple answer to the question is that one, or more, people goofed. Things went wrong. Mistakes were made.
But regardless of “the official cause of death,” such as…
- Inadequate funding.
- A bad location.
- Increase in fuel prices.
- Cost of workman’s compensation.
- Supplier problems.
- Untrustworthly employees.
- Unexpected competition.
- Season slow downs, etc …
Businesses rarely go under because of one “catastrophic” event!
It happens because everyone involved in the company (e.g. owners, executive, and managers) commit many seemingly small errors over a prolonged period of time.
They’re easy to ignore… because their effects don’t cause “pain” right away. And when finally brought to light, the “cancer” is so widespread that it’s almost impossible to contain and their “cure” is like putting a band aid on a gapping wound.
So, the very best way to avoid this fate is to prevent the disease. However, if you’re already on your way there, it’s time to stop the bleeding! You only have two choices: Keep doing what you’re doing and suffer the same results, or change.
We think, business blunders begin “in the head,” with a firm belief in mis-assumptions, half-truths, misinformation, outright lies, misunderstandings, or myths. Once firmly entrenched they set in motion their believers’ attitudes, decisions and actions – a recipe for disaster.
More Chapter 2: want to get in on a really big secret? A hush-hush tactic guaranteed to substantially increase your revenues and dramatically decrease your advertising expenses?
An underground tip that will help catapult you into a very small but elite group of like-minded – and extremely successful – business people?
Even better, what if you knew it wouldn’t cost you a thing?
We’re about to tell-all…
Let the cat out of the bag…
Drum roll please! Ready? Sure?
okay, okay… enough fun.
The secret is…
Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it.
Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it.
Huh? Is that all? We must be kidding, right?
Think about your own consumer experiences…
- The roofer who shows up three days late…
- The real estate agent who didn’t return your calls or emails…
- The physicians who left you waiting for hours…
- The electrician who drops out of your life after promising to fix your ceiling fan…
- The online marketer who got busy and forgot to mail your “next day air” package…
- The consignment retailers who conveniently “forget” to pay your commission…
… and the thousands of others who disappointed you.
Unfortunately, we’ve all been there. And sadly, these behaviors have become the norm, not the exception.
So, when someone actually delivers on their promises, we’re thrilled and we tell people… our friends, family members, co-workers – even complete strangers! Word spreads fast and before you know it, voila! you’ll have more business than you ever imagined possible.
But remember, the reverse is also true… when you let people down, they’ll tell four people who will tell four more who will tell four more…and pretty soon you’re reputation is shot.
Bottom Line: “Time will either promote you or expose you.” (Jim Rohn)
Chapter 4: Marketing Plan Overview
Surprisingly few business owners or executives are able to describe a marketing plan. Today, they are far more focused on tactics such as, Internet advertising, sales brochures, and Flash animation. And although these devices are legitimate tools of the trade they become temporary, patchwork fixes when substituted for implementing a well-thought-out plan. Invariably they work okay for a while, but over time these managers get crushed under the weight of competition or go under.
As a matter of fact, a 2003 US Department of Commerce research study concluded that over 80% of American companies of all sizes experience lower-than-anticipated marketing activity results and the vast majority of these do not have written marketing plans! This is not a coincidental relationship.
We believe that there are four main contributing factors which make writing a marketing plan seemed so daunting
That is, many people:
- Are uncertain regarding its content and format.
- Lack confidence in their writing skills.
- Don’t know where to begin or how to find the information they need.
- Think it’s not necessary or irrelevant for their businesses.
But there’s no longer a reason to feel intimidated. To that end, we’ve devoted this chapter to an overview of what a marketing plan is; what it is not, what it’s used for, and what’s included
In subsequent chapters, we’ll walk you through our 8-step system for gathering the information you’ll need to enter into our plan outline (Chapter 13) or your own:
- A Marketing Plan is not rocket science.
- A Marketing Plan is not at all similar to a PhD dissertation.
- A Marketing Plan can be handwritten.
- A Marketing Plan can have typos.
- A Marketing Plan can be developed by anyone… as long as they can follow a simple cake recipe.
- A Marketing Plan can be created with crayons.
- A Marketing Plan is not fun to write, but spending more time with family and friends and enjoying the extra money you make is loads of fun.
- A Marketing Plan will help you save money.
- A Marketing Plan will help you make money.
- A Marketing Plan means fewer headaches.
- A Marketing Plan is a vital, living document which can be dog-eared, written on and highlighted.
- A Marketing Plan saves time… no matter how long it takes to write.
- A Marketing Plan has “To-Do” lists.
- A Marketing Plan has “Not-To-Do” lists.
- A Marketing Plan is your guide your sanity check your blueprint your roadmap your business’s best friend.
Chapter 8: Identifying Your Target Market
Small businesses have been around for centuries. And although they may look quite different, the reasons they exist and the fundamental tenets that they operate under are no different than they were in 54 BC.
Yet we operate in a fast-paced modern-day marketplace – one dominated by the Internet’s state-of-the-art technologies which allow us to compete worldwide; expand our social networks regardless of geography; and obtain information and purchase products in seconds. Given this, many of us, understandably, focus on learning and applying the hottest marketing “tactics” – especially as they relate to online systems and tools.
And while we believe that entrepreneurs must have a professional-looking website; employ time-saving web-based automation software; use the Internet’s vast resources to get more information, products and services; and much more, we also think that we can get caught up in this razzle- dazzle world and lose sight of the basics.
It is much the same in business and marketing. That’s why we think it’s a good idea to step back from time-to-time to reiterate the basics, and then show you how you can use the power of modern technology to jumpstart your success.
This is particularly relevant as we begin discussing ways to identify and locate your target audience – those people who will help you connect the dots between where you are today and where you’d like to go
At its most basic level, commerce begins when two people exchange one thing of value for another. And in the vast majority of transactions, people hand over their hard-earned money in exchange for products or services they choose. Each receives something of value and the rest is history. Pretty simple, eh?
In theory, yes… In practice, not quite… This whole scenario – one that is played out in various forms millions of time each day – rests on the following two fundamental factors:
- The seller’s product or service must be something that “enough” people want and are willing to purchase.
- The seller must be able to recognize and find these people.
In other words, do not assume…
You have willing buyers, just because you have a product.
It’s okay to build your business around an interest without making sure others are interested as well.
That people who say they like your product will buy it.
Chapter 9: Why Do People Buy Almost Anything?
Although consumers make their buying decisions based on multiple factors, most experts agree that at the most basic level people buy to either avoid pain or gain pleasure.
In other words, your customers actually purchase the advantages they receive from your product more than the product itself. If you’ve ever taken a marketing class, you’ve probably been asked that old passé question, “When someone purchases a drill, what are they really buying?” The answer: a hole. You see, the drill is merely a means to the end. Now the person could try to get the hole another way… but it would be far more time consuming, less accurate and more frustrating. So, what else does the drill do? That’s right… avoid pain.
However, the majority of entrepreneurs and small business people spend far more time communicating their product or service features and often ignore the very reason their customers purchase from them… a huge mistake
So let’s get this clear before we go any further:
- Features are the things built into your products or services… stainless steel sinks, 400 thread count cotton sheets, dual power exhausts, a 30-gig memory drive, 180-horse power, and four-wheel drive.
- Benefits are what your customers gain… a better night’s sleep, a sexier smile, less frustration, and fewer headaches
And although the concept is easy to understand, many of our clients find it difficult to come up with – let alone articulate – benefits.
However, it is vitally important that you learn to do this, and do it well. And the reason is, regardless of what you sell, or who you sell it to, the end-user, company or organization that purchases your product is concerned about one thing only: themselves.
And as harsh as it may sound, they could care less about how long you’ve been in business; how many computers you use; or whether you’re “family owned and operated.” Rather, they are asking themselves, “What’s in this for me? (Affectionately known in the industry as WIFM). Your job is to answer this question.
And regardless of whether you’ve operated a business for several years; own a start-up company; are merely thinking about opening your own business or anywhere in-between, we’ll show you how to identify and locate those wonderful folks who will help you achieve your business objectives.
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Mary Eule Scarborough, an unassailable marketing expert and thought leader, helps businesses of all sizes get and keep more profitable customers. She is also:
- A former Fortune 500 marketing executive, …
- The founder of two successful small businesses, …
- An award-winning speaker, …
- A Certified Guerrilla Marketing coach, and …
- Co-author of three books (to-date): “The Procrastinator’s Guide to Marketing“, (Entrepreneur Press, November, 2007), “Mastering Online Marketing” (Entrepreneur Press, January, 2008), and “Guerrilla Marketing On The Internet” (Entrepreneur Press, July, 2008).
- Qualified with a BA in Journalism / English from the University of Maryland, and …
- Qualified with a Masters degree in marketing from The Johns Hopkins University.
Log onto her website: www.StrategicMarketingAdvisors.com for free marketing articles, tools, tips and templates…or to learn more about her books, products and services.