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Marketing Plans ... A Simple Approach To Get Off The Marketing Roller Coaster

By Kevin Dervin

Are You Riding The Marketing Roller Coaster?
If you're like many of the small business owners or independent professionals I meet, then running and marketing your business can be like riding on a roller coaster. I'm picturing a roller coaster that mostly goes up and down as opposed to one that flips you upside-down or sends you around backwards. I guess you might call it more of an old-fashion roller coaster.

Does this sound like your business at all?
When business is good, we really don't have a lot of time for marketing. After all, we have to service the clients we have in hand. If we can just get the ball rolling then things should pick up because our satisfied clients will give us referrals.

This might even work for a while.  But then when business slows down, what do you do?   Well, it's time to start marketing!  We need to get some more business in the door, so what should we do? Should we send out some direct mail, advertise in the newspaper, get out and network more?  Someone once described it to me as more of a 'desperate searching' than 'marketing' when things get like this.

And for many, that's so true because the marketing efforts they crank up are totally unplanned and reactive to the current business slow down. The marketing doesn't work very well because you're needy and the harder you try to get, the more you actually push away potential new clients.

Then what I hear so often is, "We're not marketing people. We're [fill in the blank]." You see a lot of small business owners have a bit of an aversion to marketing.


         They don't like being rejected.

         It takes too much time.

         They don't know where to start.

         Or, they don't know what to do.

I'm sure some of these statements sound familiar to you. Over the years I've come across lots and lots of business owners and independent professionals, and I hear these sentiments again and again.

Now some business owners are not this way. They're not afraid to get out there and spread the word on their business and tell others about themselves. Unfortunately, they tend to use more of a scatter gun approach and the results are often the same - up and down.

So up and down you go - riding the marketing roller coaster.  Never really sure how high the next peak is or how low and wide the next valley is. And you're certainly not prepared for the turns or loop-to-loops along the way. Oh that's right; I said this was an old fashion roller coaster. No loop-to-loops on this ride. Anyway, you get the picture.

Well, Are You Ready To Get Off The Marketing Roller Coaster?
You can start by creating a marketing plan.  I ask small business owners all the time what kinds of things they're doing from a marketing perspective to grow their business. I get some of the answers you might expect such as networking, creating a brochure, sending out a direct mail postcard, etc.

But then when I ask those same business owners if they have a marketing plan, they usually fall silent. Let me try to be clear about this... Without some kind of a marketing plan you have very little chance of actually achieving real business growth.

A well thought out marketing plan will help you and your business stay on track. You'll know where you're going with your marketing and promotional efforts. Without it, you're simply leaving things up to chance.

Lack of adequate planning is a huge factor in why so many small businesses fail. Planning by itself will not guarantee your success. But, not planning has proven again and again that you will almost certainly fail.

An effective marketing plan will keep you from riding the marketing roller coaster. It's a dilemma which is so common among small businesses. We "market" when things slow down and we "stop marketing" when things are busy.

Create a Plan to Get Off The Marketing Roller Coaster!
It should go without saying that marketing plans are crucial to your small business success. Yet everyday people don't take the time to stop and actually think about how much better off they'd be with even a simple plan.

Working on a new brochure or a new flyer does not constitute planning. Take a few days to a few weeks to outline your own simple small business marketing plan.   Don't get hung up on making this a complex exercise.  I break the process down into a simple four-phase, seven-step process that I call 'ABCD Growth Marketing'.

A = Analysis and Preparation.

1.      Clarify your Purpose for being in business and Focus on your Vision and Goals. If you don't know where you're headed, how can you expect anyone else to know?

2.      Position your business for marketing success. The most valuable time you spend working on your business could be the time you spend on key positioning elements such as:

3.      Defining your niche,
Articulating your uniqueness,
Creating an attention getting message,
Packaging your offerings, and
Compiling your success stories and testimonials.

B = Building Lead Generation.

1.      Create better marketing materials that are focused on your clients and prospects and what they'll get from you, not who you are and what you do.

2.      Develop a plan for getting known. You can't do business with someone if you don't know about them and they don't know about you.


C = Create Sales Conversion And Reselling Processes.

1.      Convert leads into paying clients. Being able to consistently generate leads without well thought out processes for converting them into clients will not equate to growth of your small business.

2.      Resell to existing clients and leverage relationships to get more new clients. It requires a certain amount of focus to ensure you're providing all the value you have to offer and to begin generating referrals. Many small businesses ignore this completely.

D = Deploy And Improve.

Deploy your plan and systems and begin continuous improvement activities. If you're not continuously monitoring what's working and what's not, how can you find opportunities to improve the results from your ABCD Growth System?

Don't Get Overwhelmed By Planning.

Most small business owners seem to get overwhelmed when they start thinking about marketing. But if you just start with a simple outline like this and commit to spending some time filling in the spaces each week, you'll realize it's very possible.

If you want to get off the marketing roller coaster, schedule regular time to work on your marketing every week. That's right, grab your calendar and book time each week. With regular and consistent effort, you'll begin to smooth out all the ups and downs in your business.

About the Author: Kevin Dervin is the owner of KPD Marketing and creator of the ABCD Growth System, FREE monthly eZine called ABCD Grow.

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