Step 4: Develop a marketing mix and choose your vehicles
Your marketing mix is a strategic lineup of marketing vehicles designed to drive your customers to action and to achieve company objectives.
Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, an e-commerce consultant said, “A business can’t rely on just one marketing approach, but must develop a whole spectrum of marketing strategies, operating simultaneously, in order to survive and flourish in this competitive world.”
Using market research and the data collected about your target audience, you are now prepared to outline the key marketing vehicles and develop an execution timeline. Dr. Wilson was correct, one vehicle just won’t do it, because one commonality your target market does not have is what marketing vehicles work for them.
When developing a mix, you should note that the following factors—known as the Four P’s—affect your strategy. Product, Price, Place, Promotion.
Often argued as outdated, the Four P’s can still serve as a solid foundation for your strategy. These factors will need fine-tuning, as will the vehicles you choose to communicate your value and offering to your target audience. There are thousands of creative ways to reach your audience, but here are a few examples:
- Direct Mail
- Lead Generation
- Events / Seminars
- Websites and Electronic Marketing
- Price Promotions
- One-to-one Marketing
- Direct Sales
- Public Relations
Step 5: Identify ways to measure your success
Everything you do should have a way to measure success. A call-to-action should be added to every marketing activity. A call-to-action is a key message that removes barriers from impulse to action. Price discounts, free consultations, free reports; all of these have one thing in common, they move your target audience to the action that you desire. You should also establish a process for tracking the incoming call-to-action responses. This can be as easy as setting up a separate hotline to receive calls about a mailer or having a traceable URL that a client clicks through a newsletter email. Having a this type of process in place will allow you to measure the return on investment.
Return on investment is a traditional financial measure based on historical data. It is measured by using the following calculation:
(Total Benefit – Total Cost) = _________ x 100 =ROI
Total benefits include money saved by the organization, money made and anything that adds directly or indirectly to the bottom line.
Total costs include both direct and indirect expenses incurred during the program execution. These can include materials, consultant fees, training, postage, etc.
ROI is a traditional way to measure the effectiveness of your program.
Step 6: Develop a marketing budget
Marketing is a necessary investment. You should (as a rule of thumb) set aside a percentage of your total revenue each year to continually invest in marketing. In Year One, it should be funded from a percentage of your starting capital. This investment is minimal, but it is a start towards a successful path of continually marketing your business. A general rule of thumb is to invest $3 for every $10 of revenue that your company earns. If you have a starting capital amount of $10,000, you should look to invest $3,000 in marketing.
Placing your marketing investment in the right type of marketing is just as important. Gone are the days of blindly throwing money like spaghetti on a wall and hoping that it “sticks.” Whether you hire an outside agency or develop a marketing strategy yourself, you must be able to scrutinize, measure and refine. If you are investing $3 of every $10 in revenue, you should be able to know how much that $3 truly costs you to earn. This helps to ensure that your marketing investments yield a return that exceeds that amount. This leads us to our final step.
Step 7: Refine and reintroduce
After you have established a clear metric of success and measured the return on investment of your marketing elements, your goal is to assess whether your plan has yielded a satisfactory ROI or if your plan needs to be scrutinized. You should always tweak your plan as the market changes. You can do this by evaluating your marketing vehicles; which ones brought you the highest success and which ones did not do so well?
Replace those that did not perform well with new and fresh marketing elements and re-implement those that worked for you in the past with possibly a new direction, new target or a new theme. After a few years, you will begin to understand what types of marketing attracts your audience. At that point, you can eliminate unnecessary expenses by avoiding those that your audience did not receive as well.
Experiment, evaluate and learn from your failures and your company will be in a much better position in two to ten years by managing your marketing investment wisely.
In the past, marketing and sales were less refined and characterized as more of an art and not a science. Today’s standards have changed the face of these elements and the more successful businesses have learned to adapt.
The key is to define a clear strategy for both sales and marketing derived from your overall goals. You can build a sales team that has a skill set to match your objectives and a marketing strategy that is simple enough to execute, yet flexible enough to revise and improve. No one marketing strategy will help you achieve all of your objectives overnight; it is more of a development process of refinement and balance which takes time and dedication. If you do not have the time or ability to manage this process, look outside of your organization for a professional marketing company.