It’s time to turn our attention to one of my favourite topics―marketing, but in the context of strategic organisation and planning. Just what does marketing have to do with strategic planning, you might ask? Well, everything. The only way to achieve your goals is to find prospects who need your service or product and who are willing to pay you money for it. Your core focus defines your work. Your marketing strategy determines how you’re going to find the people who will pay for it. You can build the best mousetrap ever, but people who need such a contraption must first know it exists.
Remember, the marketing component of your business plan is just as important as any other piece. As you build your plan, you should allocate adequate budget dollars for time and resources. You need a fully integrated marketing strategy, including a professional website that attracts visitors and promotes your services. However, in today’s complex media climate, you need much more than that. It’s essential to understand where your clients live and how they consume content―whether it’s on Instagram or LinkedIn, via video or Skype, email or Twitter. Though the basic approach we use to launch your strategy is pretty is simple, the execution is now a complex amalgam of message, media, timing, and analytics. In short, you must make it easy to purchase what you’re selling. To get you started, I’m going to encourage you to take this crazy-easy approach. In fact, you can even develop a powerful marketing plan in just a couple of hours with just two steps:
1. Define Your Market
What defines your customer or client? Who Buys Your Product or Service? It’s a given. You must understand your target market, and professional service firms are no different from that fast-food joint. But how do you do this? You answer three simple questions designed to help you create a list of client prospects.
Where is your client?
Start with geography. Decide where you want to prospect, and then focus to maximize your opportunity. You have limited time and finite resources, so choose prospects that are right for you.
What does your target client look like?
This is fundamental demographics. What is the size in terms of revenue? Industry? How many employees? What markets do they serve? The more you know about your target client, the more effectively you can communicate and serve.
Why is your client in pain?
This is probably the most important of all, because it gives you the ability to provide a solution. Understanding the psychographics helps you speak directly and get inside the heads of your target client to begin the conversation.
2. Differentiate Your Product or Service
There’s really no mystery to product or service differentiation. You simply need to articulate what sets you apart from the competition. To do that, we use an exercise called the “3 Uniques.” It’s a key component of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), a set of proven, high-impact tools we use to help take your business to the next level. It’s instant differentiation.
What are the 3 Uniques?
They are three important and compelling things that you can say about your firm that no other competitor can say. Perhaps, a few firms can say one of the things. Maybe even one of them can say two of them, but nobody can say all three. Helpful hints:
Make sure that your 3 Uniques are compelling not to you but to a potential client in your target market.
Get outside of the industry platitudes. Every accounting firm claims to be accurate. Identify something you do differently.
Make sure it’s the truth. Nothing will get you in trouble with clients faster than promising something you can’t deliver. Under promise, over deliver.
Make those 3 Uniques the foundation of all your communication, and before you know it, you’ll have created one of your most valuable assets — a brand.
Form Follows Function: Make it Personal
Our best advice is to start with your message―and making it relevant. Here are some great guidelines for crafting content and perfect personas from one the gurus on the digital landscape ― Hubspot. Here’s some practical advice for building your marketing plan and developing personas―some robust, user-friendly tools to help you optimize your online lead-generation funnel. Four proven methods for gathering the information you need to develop personas:
- Review your current database to identify trends about how certain leads or customers discover and act on your content.
- Create pages and response forms for your website that capture important persona information. For example, if industry niche is a differentiator, ask each lead for information about company focus.
- Gather feedback from your sales team on the most responsive leads. What customers do you attract and serve best?
- Constantly gather customer and prospect feedback to identify your outstanding product or service attributes. How is your product solving a problem or eliminating a pain?