Competition for customers can be fierce in today’s economy, and an effective marketing plan can make the difference between success and failure for your company.

Simply put, marketing is the art of attracting customers to your company, and keeping them as customers over time.  Many entrepreneurs start out with detailed plans about how to develop their product or service and how to run their company on a day-to-day basis.  But without a good marketing plan to bring in business, it can be a real struggle to keep a company profitable.  Here are some points to consider in setting up a marketing strategy that works for you:

1. Know your customers

You should know your ideal customer well enough to be able to describe him or her in detail.  For example, “My product appeals to a 30-something woman with small children at home, whose household income is between $50,000 and $60,000 a year.  She wants to look younger, but doesn’t have much time to spend on beauty routines, and she is also concerned about saving money.”

2. Check out the competition

You’ll need to come up with several reasons why your product or service is better than what’s offered by other companies.  This means you must do some market research to find out what your competitors are offering, how it’s priced, and how it’s being marketed.   This could help you find out their weaknesses so you can take advantage of them in designing your marketing strategy.

3. Know your value message

Rather than focusing on the features of your product or service (“What’s in it?”) focus on answering your customer’s question, “What’s in it for me?” Target your marketing efforts on the benefits you offer.  For example, instead of, “This face cream is a quality product that’s priced right,” say, “This face cream could make you look younger.” That’s a benefit that may appeal to the customer.

4. Remember the emotional component

Every buying decision is composed of logical elements (“I need to replace my broken-down car”) and emotional elements (“That car would make me feel young and attractive!”)  For most purchases, the emotional component can be more important than any amount of logic, so find your customer’s hot button and concentrate on that.

5. Establish your goals

If you want to increase sales by 10% by December 31, make that your goal and plan backward: how many new customers will you need to attract to increase sales by 10%? To reach that many customers, how many touchpoints will you need to send out (postcards, phone calls, print ads, etc.)?

6. Consult an expert

In order to do your back-planning, it’s imperative to check out the standards for your industry and also for your area.  A marketing expert can tell you what percentage of return you’re likely to get for each marketing effort. For example, if you find out that postcards only generate a 0.5% answer rate, you’ll have a better idea of whether it would be worthwhile to invest in the cost of printing and postage. The fee you pay an expert could save you time, effort and money in the long run. You might also be able to take advantage of free or low-cost advice through agencies such as the U.S. Small Business Administration, SCORE, and your local Chamber of Commerce.

7. Set up a marketing budget

An expert can help you decide how much of your budget you can devote to marketing.  Remember, marketing done correctly can be an investment, not an expense.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank. Nevada State Bank is a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC