Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

Avoiding Marketing Mistakes

By Amanda Bala

Are you a small business owner?  If the answer is yes, are you doing everything you can to make sure that your marketing dollars are working for you?  Running a small business can be a risky endeavor, but when it comes to marketing strategies and tactics, you can rest easy knowing that by avoiding a few simple mistakes, you can stretch those invested dollars and make them work for you! 

According to The Reach Group’s Free Agent Formula—created by Cheri Hanson, Lisa Johnson and Cassie Pruett—here are 4 top mistakes that entrepreneurs make. 

Mistake #1 – Get Passionate.  Often times businesses are created solely on making money instead of following your strengths. If you simply set up your business to make money, it is not likely to thrive.  Unless you have a passion for your product or service, you are already starting at a disadvantage.  With a true passion comes a deeper understanding of a product or service therefore putting you ahead of the competition. 

Mistake #2 – Be Different.  This often made mistake is matching your competitors instead of differentiating and finding your niche.  A person will see a company that is doing good business and try to mold their company to be exactly the same.  What they fail to realize is that people do not want the same.  People are looking for new and innovative. There is something to be said about surprising people with a fun new product or service.  Find your niche and go with it!

Mistake #3 – It’s not About You.  Another big mistake that business owners make is packaging products from your perspective, not that of your customers. When selling your product or service, it’s not about you or your company; it’s about your customers and how you can benefit them.  If you don’t know what your customers are looking for, then ask them.  Create a survey or ask around.  Make sure all of your marketing appeals to them… not you.

Mistake #4 – Don’t Wait to be Found.   Rather then waiting for established media to discover and cover you, go out and create your own buzz.   Things like blogging, writing articles, using social media sites and keeping your website updated and fresh all help.  Offer resource guides, podcasts, photos or video clips.  These are all ways to market your business rather than wait to be discovered by someone else. 

Every business wants to succeed.  Every business owner wants to know that they are doing all they can to make this happen.  One great way to do this is to learn by others mistakes and avoid the traps and pitfalls that they have fallen into.

Free Your Mind… And the Rest Will Follow!

By Amanda Bala

So you have been in a slump lately with your writing, your business, maybe your life?  Often we find that they day to day drudgery of our schedules can get us down.  A simple pick me up that takes little time and can really help to inspire and recharge your batteries is free writing!  Maybe you need some inspiration, maybe you have a great idea, but you need to fine tune it.  Free writing is a great way to quickly get your thoughts and ideas down on paper and give yourself a jump start.

Experts agree that a free writing session might be the best way to get your thoughts on the page and get moving in a new, creative direction.  According to Mark Levy at the Compelling blog, “Free writing helps people to create a strategic direction for their company, brainstorm ideas for a personal branding campaign, plan a product launch, think through employee engagement problems, rehearse ways of handling a negotiation, write books and blog posts.”

The key is to find a quite place, set up tools and let you mind go.  Free writing can be done in whatever manner you find easiest.  Some people enjoy pounding away on the keyboard whatever topics cross their mind.  Others enjoy the age old tradition of the written word.  A paper and a pencil can take you places you never dreamed!  The objective, however you do it, it to write down whatever comes to mind.  There is no right or wrong.  By doing this, you are able to filter out the usual constraints that keep us from coming up with come really great, risky, fun ideas.  Usually we are so worried about how our writing sounds, looks and feels that we take too much time actually writing the sentences and all those quirky, daring, original and usually effective ideas are lost. 

The best free writing sessions are those that are not forced, but are limited.  You can go for a few minutes or for longer periods of time, but the key is, when the ideas stop flowing, stop writing.  You can always come back and do more at a later time.  If you get stuck and have nothing to say, write about that.  Even if the thoughts you are writing seem off the wall, keep going.  Some of the best and most interesting topics might come to you in the midst of all that chaos. 

By taking time out of your busy, every day schedule to do a bit of free writing, you can give yourself a new outlook on so many different aspects of your life and business.  Thoughts and ideas you may not have ordinarily had will come to you.  This could be the key to taking you in a new and exciting direction both in your career and your life!  Even if that is not the case, it is a fun way to relieve a bit of stress from your every day existence!

The Marketing Equation (Part 2)

By Amanda Bala

So now that you know what the marketing equation is, this is to help you understand what each part of the equation includes:

#1 – Reach the Right Audience:  You need to know what demographic you are trying to reach.  Who buys your product or needs your service?  What sex, age group, income level, education level, occupation and location are you trying to reach?  What are their buying habits?  If you are a company that targets everyone (like Coca-Cola) then you really need to do your homework and think about creating different campaigns to target these different audiences because there is rarely a one-size fits all campaign. 

#2 – At the Right Time:  This is the most self-explanatory of the bunch.  So we’ll leave this one up to you.  As you may have heard, timing is everything!

#3 – With the Right Message:  You need to excite your audience with your message.  Make them want your services and product.  Appeal to their emotions.  With that said, we are not just talking about text… this includes your brand (look & feel).  If you are talking about how great your business is, but your brand doesn’t represent that, then people may not believe you.  Or you may have to work harder to get the sale.  Your communications to your target audience are critical.  From emails to Facebook posts to advertisements, it all makes a difference.  Keep it simple, memorable, beneficial to your audience and unique from your competition.  In this day and age, it takes effort.

#4 – Using the right media: Television, Internet, Billboards, Bathroom stalls… there are hundreds of ways to communicate your message. These are all great tools to use for marketing.  However, you need to know which fits your campaign best.  For example, if you are running a television commercial that is seen all over the state, but you are a local car dealership, salon, or local business, then you are wasting your resources.  Chances are that someone from Rochester Hills is not going to drive to Milford for a car when they have their own local dealership in Rochester Hills.  Or if you are a business-to-business company, then you may not want to advertise in the newspaper or on TV.

The bottom line is that each component of the marketing equation is necessary, but not solely sufficient in creating a successful marketing platform.  The key to bringing it all together and building your business is to make sure the four areas are working in harmony.   If you miss even one part, you will most likely feel disappointed and blame your marketing efforts for not delivering.