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answers helps you start thinking

about the how’s of getting them

to their destination.

Hopefully, you’re setting goals

regularly in your business. If

not, now is a good time to start.

While marketing is creative, it’s

also a test in analytics. Marketing

is a create-implement-review-

modify discipline. It’s a balance

of art and science. Goals help

you chart your course. You

can set your goals based on a

number of criteria. For instance:

total number of customers?

Or, dollar amount of average

order? Or, maybe, frequency

of orders? Or, number of new

customers? Knowing what you

want to focus on is necessary

for creating a plan. And, here is

where most business owners get

caught: they want to focus on

everything. They want to improve

the numbers everywhere, but

it’s almost impossible to do that

at one time. Pick one area to

start and build from there. And,

pick a timeframe for measuring

your progress.

A clearly defined strategy

. The

strategy is your big picture view

of what you want to see happen.

Think of it as the airstrike versus

the ground war. You can’t reach

a goal without a strategy, and it’s

hard to create a strategy without

a goal. A strategy is singular.

You can use any criteria but it’s

important to start with one. Even

the biggest companies, with the

biggest marketing dollars don’t

implement multiple strategies.

You might decide that you’re

going to create a strategy around

increasing the average order per

customer. Now, howmight this be

accomplished? In our industry,

you might help clients see

price breaks at higher ordering

quantities and encourage them to

stock up. You could offer bundled

solutions to get clients to buy

more at a time. You might see if

multiple departments or locations

want to order at the same time to

increase the order size. You might

decide to focus on companies that

are larger and order more at one

time. The strategy is up to you, but

once you start thinking about it,

you will be thinking about your

business on a more strategic level.

A budget

. It’s important to

allocate a budget for any activity

that you do in your business,

and that budget should include

money, time and effort. With

so many non-cost marketing

opportunities available today

it’s important to consider time

and effort as you budget for

your marketing. Social media,

networking, blogging—these

are all marketing activities and

they need to ultimately provide

a return on your investment,

just like paid media. As a rule

of thumb, consider allocating

10 percent of projected sales

to marketing activities. Then,

outline the types of marketing

activities you could potentially

do. Evaluate which activities are

the best use of your money, time

and effort. Free marketing might

sound like a great option


you find out that it’s costing you

time with clients, or time you

would spend billing.

Tactics that are specific and


. You cannot,

and should not, do every activity

you think about. Not every tactic

is right for your business. Not

every tactic will move a prospect

along their decision-making

path. The more specific your

marketing activities, the better

the results. Deciding what to

do can be hard, because there

are a lot of options out there.

Think about your customer.

Think about where they are

toward their goals and what they

need. The more you think about

what your customer needs, and

the less you think about what

you’re trying to tell them, the

better your marketing will be.

Marketing’s sweet spot is where

your activities align with your

strategy and your goals, and

where they connect on brand.

In deciding which types of

marketing activities to pursue,

consider all types, including

advertising, promotion,

merchandising and public

relations. Understand how each

of these areas of marketing

differs. Advertising is paid

media, promotion is using

your own media, and public

relations activities are usually

specific events designed to get

publicity. Every marketing plan

should use a combination of

tactics to maximize reach and

exposure. Here is another area

where business owners often get

tripped up. They focus on one

media. With all the noise today,

it’s important to use multiple

marketing tactics so that you

have more ways to grab your

target audience’s attention.

Find out where your ideal client

is and how they want to learn

more about you, and build your

ground war from there. Consider

targeting your content as you

target your activities. Make sure

your copy and graphics are on

message and on brand.

Marketing should permeate

your business. Never waste an

opportunity to market your

business. Think about every

potential client experience and