From manufacturing companies to the service sector, businesses need to use tools to stay in business. From the most high tech contrivances to a pen and pencil, how well those tools are used has a direct correlation to the success of the business.
Highly trained professionals using the right tools with a clearly defined objective can achieve outstanding results. A master carpenter and a finely crafted tall chest of draws; a doctor with a cured patient and a grateful family; an entrepreneur with well compensated employees.
But when you put the tools in untrained hands, without set goals and well conceived plans to accomplish those goals, all you have is a recipe for failure. This concept is simple. It's basic common sense.
So why do many businesses fail to practice these simple basic business concepts and practices when it comes to marketing their business? Because they don't understand marketing.
What is marketing? It is a concept. Brochures, direct mail pieces, print advertisements, Websites, and even word of mouth are the tools for marketing. It's not rocket science, but some businesses don't recognize these as business tools because they fall out of the confines of performing the essential operations of conducting their business.
Marketing and its tools are thought of as ancillary to a business. They are all too often thought of as a necessary evil.
All too often, this perception is perpetuated by poor planning, lack of measurable goals, the wrong tools for the job, and using unskilled and/or inexperienced labor for the job. The notion, “it works well enough for us,” is oftentimes the fuel for this misperception.
But the question that ultimately nags these cynics is: “How do the other guys do it?” and “Why aren't we as successful?”
Put Marketing in the business plan
Smart marketing works. Just ask any Fortune 500 company. Every company should have a business plan, whether it's a long established business or one just starting up. If your business has a plan, great. If you don't have one, make one, and put it on paper. It makes it “real,” but not chiseled in stone. Business changes, and so can plans.
The business plan should always include a marketing plan, because a marketing strategy is most effective when it is part of an overall business strategy. The mission statement and company goals will help define the market and the allocation of resources.
A good marketing plan should be cohesive, establish measurable goals, devise short and long range tactics, and be dynamic to respond to the effects of implemented action plans. It is a living document, but with a foundation that maintains the company's mission, goals, and policies.
Market the right way
Going from the philosophical and theoretical to putting ideas into motion and implementing action plans in the real world takes people, money and time. It is not a trivial investment.
By carefully defining the targeted audience, doing the research, evaluating the media options, developing and positioning the message, and establishing the benchmarks to evaluate the success of a marketing initiative, expenditures should have a desirable effect.
Allocating resources and being committed to a marketing plan is relatively simple, but there are traditionally two major stumbling blocks – allocating the right amount of resources to achieve the targeted goal and utilizing a professional to implement it.
Hiring an experienced marketing/advertising professional or full service agency, with the right resources, is the surest way to accomplish the tasks most effectively. It is not necessarily the least expensive approach, but it provides the experience and know-how to get the biggest possible return on the investment.
From a marketing and advertising professional's perspective, the client is a treasure trove of his/her company's background/products/services, his/her industry's peculiarities and machinations, their major perceived competitors, and customer profile/needs/wants.