A five-step plan for 2017: Marketing’s not a one-shot deal
Did you “Try Marketing” this year? If you tried marketing you probably wasted your money. Here is what happens:
You saw a television or radio ad for a competitor or received one of his postcards by mistake. You assume that everyone hears or sees the messages and decide, “since my competitor is doing marketing I have to do it, too.”
So, you come up with what you think is a better ad or message and send a postcard, place an ad in a newspaper, or buy radio or television advertising. You do it once. When you don’t get great results, you decide that “it didn’t work” and that competitor is wasting his money.
Or, since you’ve heard that social media is the best advertising method, you put together a Facebook Fan Page, a LinkedIn or Twitter profile, and don’t invest the time in these social media tools, and as a result, “marketing doesn’t work.”
You’re right — marketing doesn’t work if you do it once, you don’t track results, or you do it without planning. You have wasted your money and time. Marketing that produces results for you takes time, planning, a monetary investment, and tracking.
You now know that sending one message is a waste of money. Putting up a Facebook fan page and not keeping it fresh is a waste of money.
So, before you waste your marketing dollars in 2017, put together a reasonable marketing plan, execute it and track the results. Here are five suggestions for your 2017 marketing plan:
1. Determine the number of dollars you can invest in marketing.
A well-known rule-of-thumb is to budget between 3- and 6% of service and replacement revenues. Try to use as much manufacturer co-op money as possible to reduce these investment dollars. If you are trying to rapidly increase your service base, you might invest more than the 6%. Just be sure you target your marketing to specific geographic areas.
2. Review what marketing activities you invested in this year.
What were the results? Did you diligently track results (when a new potential client calls, ask, “By the way, how did you hear about us?” and record the results). This is the only way to know what worked and what didn’t work. Then do the same type of marketing that worked in 2016 in 2017.
3. Choose one or two marketing methods and stick to those methods only.
This way you can be most effective with your budget. Be consistent with your message. The recipient should recognize the message format after one or two messages. Consistency might be a tag line, message layout, message color (in the case of postcards), or theme.
A word of caution — once you have decided on the marketing methods, don’t be tempted later in the year when a salesperson walks in with “the latest and the best” marketing method that you just have to spend money on. If you think it is a good idea, put it on your potential list for 2018. Stick with your choices for the while year.
4. Make sure your website stays current.
Whatever marketing methods you use, a link to your website should be included. Without an up to date website, your potential clients may visit once and then decide to use someone else, simply because they didn’t like your website. Video is also being used more frequently on websites. Most people would rather watch than read.
5. Commit to and execute a multi-year plan.
Marketing is a building process. The first year you might not get “great” results. Your clients and potential clients are bombarded with marketing messages. If they don’t know you, it takes time for them to start “paying attention.” This is why a consistent theme is so critical. You want them to remember your company when they do have a need. That takes repeated, consistent messages over a long period of time.
You can and probably should outsource the execution of your website maintenance and marketing programs. Create the plan, the marketing methods, and the marketing themes. Then hire the experts in each of these areas to execute your directions. Hire, for example, a Facebook expert to help with your Facebook page and a direct mail expert for help with postcards. Most marketing experts specialize. Do not expect a Facebook expert to know how to execute a great direct mail campaign.
You are still responsible for tracking the results and communicating with the people executing your plan. Tell them the results, both good and bad. For poor results, they might suggest changes that could improve your results. However, if they don’t know the results, they can’t help make changes.
Have patience when results aren’t stellar the very first time. Keep to the 2017 plan. You will see results over a longer period of time. Marketing does work when you are consistent and methodical.