Clarify Your Marketing Efforts

We must manage so many things as a small business owner – inventory, people, accounts, sales, and of course, marketing.

Too often, we get bogged down in thinking we have to cover all the bases, stretch our marketing budget and time across all the avenues. We build a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn. We buy ad space and send out flyers through our local Chamber of Commerce. We generate e-newsletters, press releases, blog posts. And in the end, we are exhausted emotionally, physically and financially by trying to do it all, and do it everywhere.

It’s time to stop doing it all and start doing it smart.

Three steps to defining a framework for your marketing efforts:

  1. What is your intent?  Go beyond a sales goal – “I want to make money” is not enough. Is your intent to motivate people to a specific action? To educate, influence, or entertain them? Why do you do what you do? My intent in promoting The Write Concept is to help business owners and nonprofits develop marketing communications that are clear, concise, and motivating – to move minds with “words that matter.”
  2. Define your own results.  What do you really want from any particular activity?  Again, if it is “to sell stuff,” you are selling yourself short.  You may determine that reaching a “friend” list of 5,000 on your Facebook page is a worthy result. One of mine is to increasing my blog subscribers by 5% each month. Define a result you wish to achieve – a small step towards a bigger goal. Pick ONE social media outlet to start, and focus your energies there. You can expand to others as the results prove appropriate.
  3. Build your strategy. Look at your intent and the result you wish to achieve, and determine what steps will get you there. For me, a first step is being consistent in writing blog posts that matter – blog posts that help people be better in their communications. Tied in with that is making sure I am consistent in posting links to the posts on the social media outlets of my choice – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.

It boils down to this: decide on a purpose, the results that will show you your efforts are “working,” and the steps you will take to make it happen. Then get out there and do it.


Wal-Mart Reconnaissance

John Nottingham and his business partner, John Spirk – a pair of 50-ish guys from Cleveland, Ohio – spend a lot of time in what they call “Wal-Mart Reconnaissance.” It’s a pastime that has brought them 464 patents and more than $30 billion in sales.

Their success is based on a simple process: find the things ordinary people use every day and make them better. The team invented things like the Sherwin-Williams Twist-and-Pour paint can that saves us from blobs of unintentional color on our otherwise neutral carpeting, and the Crest SpinBrush – the bestselling electric toothbrush on the market.

I heard about them through a profile on NBC news.

The Nottingham-Spirk story makes it clear that a bit of innovation and creative thinking can change an “ordinary” product or service into something extraordinary and wildly popular. Increased function or ease of use equate to higher value and desirability, which leads to increased sales.

Incorporating “Wal-Mart Reconnaissance” into your business might involve:

•  finding and expanding a niche area overlooked or underutilized by your competition
•  developing collaborative partnerships with industry-relative but non-competitive businesses
•  reworking the content and design of your websites, blogs, or brochures

Do your prospects and clients view you as “extraordinary”?  If you’re not sure, it may be time for a trip to Wal-Mart.