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20 Ways to Improve Your Marketing Plan for 2019

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

marketingHear ye, hear ye! While it’s likely that your marketing plan is more advanced than a town crier, it’s just as important in 2019 as in yesteryear to get your message out. Area business experts offered these tips for improving your marketing plan:

1. “Networking: join organizations that are going to increase your personal network.

2. “Branding: be sure that what you are putting out on social media matches among all platforms used and is consistent with your printed marketing materials.

3. “Messaging: clearly define and convey what problem you are solving for your target market and make it easy for them to contact you in multiple ways.

4. “Set Goals: Clearly define your end goal in your marketing objectives, then work backwards from that to create a strategic sales strategy to cost-effectively achieve your end goal.”

— Keyona Kelly, certified business adviser for Onondaga Small Business Development Center, Syracuse.

5. “Successful businesses we work with use several types of marketing. They don’t have one arrow in their quiver and they allocate money into every area. They reach different targets based on demographics and age and spending habit. Some of the biggest mistakes people make is a one-shot deal, not a whole year.

6. “They need to develop a marketing plan and we can help them. It takes seven to nine touches to make a sale. If you’re not touching them in many ways, it’s not as effective.

7. “You have to be persistent. There’s no one-shoe-fits all. It’s too late when you don’t have any business. When you’re busiest is when you should be marketing. It’s a catch-22. You have to consistently work on it. Groups like the chamber of commerce will help you with a marketing plan.”

— John Henry, owner of Speedway Press, Oswego.  

8. “If you are a sole entrepreneur, then you must become the best salesperson for your company. When you think you have marketed your company enough, market again and again. In a world of a billion businesses, you must stand out. The only way you can do that is by marketing, promoting, advertising and selling on all media platforms and face to face with potential customers. Don’t ever stop marketing. It is an everyday activity for an entrepreneur.

9. “Gone are the days when people picked up the phone to make sales calls. Most people hide behind email messages or social media to sell to potential customers. I have found the best sales success is making phone calls — at least five to seven phone calls to one person — to get a lead, meeting or sale. One or two attempts to reach a potential new client won’t work in this technology-flooded communication way of life. You need to do what the old times salespeople did: knock on doors, make phone calls and meet customers face to face to garner their business. It takes work.

10. “Make sure you understand your brand, demographic and audience to market and sell to well. You need to know first who you are going after — and it isn’t everybody — in order to cut down on the hundreds of wrong people. Create a target customer profile, including look, age, location, salary, education and other important demographics of perfect customers before you start trying to find them. When you understand who you are looking for, you’ll discover where to find them quicker and easier.”

— Tracy Higginbotham, president of Women TIES and Women’s Athletic Network in Syracuse.

11. “With content marketing, implement the ‘one, two, three’ cycle of content creation. One, create content for your website. Two, use email to push it out to your clients and interested contacts, and then, three, use it again to prospect on social media.

12. “Email marketing is very effective, but overlooked by many businesses. It’s amazing how much time and energy businesses pour into social media to the exclusion of an email marketing strategy. According to a 2018 study by McKinsey & Company email can be 40 times more effective than social media. As email boxes continue to get busier, a sure way to lose subscribers is to be sending content that is not relevant to them. As you learn more about your subscribers, you can target appropriate content to them. For example, if you have a special ‘new customer’ promotion, you want to make sure that you aren’t sending it to your current customers. Or, if you are inviting people to an event in ‘this city tomorrow’, it doesn’t make sense to send this invite to people far from that location.  Personalize, but keep it authentic.

13. “Prepare your content for visual and audio search. The rise in mobile and voice-enabled smart devices is prompting more ways for people to look for your content. By preparing it to be found by these new and growing methods, you can gain the early advantage of being found and take a jump ahead of others.

— Anne Notarthomas, owner eKamria, Syracuse.

14. “Use promotional products. I’ve had a B&B client for years who put a little piece of chocolate and mint on pillows. I have another client that uses promotional items like full sized Hershey’s bars for Christmas gifts with a coupon inside. I think it’s something unique, not something people just throw away. I did personalized tea bags for a business in Australia. There’s no end to what you can do if you know your audience. It costs a little more but people appreciate it more.”

— Rebecca A. Duger, owner/designer of Uniquely Designed by Rebecca, Elbridge.

15. “The most important thing to start is to take stock of what you’re doing. It’s the perfect time to do an internal audit to see how effective things were last year or for how long you’ve been doing them. Does it make sense to keep investing in them? A lot of people are still putting money into Yellow Pages advertising. With so many other ways to get information, it doesn’t make sense to invest in that. I had a client in 16 paper directories and it didn’t make sense to keep doing that. They pulled them and saved a ton of money.

16. Your website is your identity, your brand, your hub where people can find out about you. Most likely, it probably needs updating or major revision. It’s never stagnant. It’s always changing. Content is everything. There’s nothing worse than stale content. You need to entice your readers. Maybe there’s a new service you offer or a testimonial. Maybe you won an award or joined Better Business Bureau.

17. “A few years ago, we went from doing TV commercials to social media and web video. That’s how things have shifted. The power of video is amazing. Video content increases your traffic, increases engagement and can make conversions to customers and ultimately, will help your income. Another benefit is that it also has positive impact on search engine optimization because Google likes video. When someone conducts a search, Google checks text and other types of media. It helps you come up in search results, as opposed to a text response in a search.

18. “Photos, it’s true to a lesser degree because they’re not as interactive. When people look at a video, they have to elect to have sound, so when you have moving pictures with a message, it can be a powerful way to click the sound. In some cases, there are captions and when you do your final production, you can add captions. Some might have it built in. People watch countless hours of videos every day, especially on mobile devices.

19. “Some make the mistake of using Facebook or Instagram to make sales pitches. When you’re posting on social media, avoid a direct sales pitch. You want to build trust and credibility by offering a case study, tips, ‘hacks’ and advice. A restaurant may say they have a limited time item. That’s different than a sales pitch. It depends if it’s hitting the right audience. If you’re really targeting with Facebook paid advertising, they have parameters so it only runs in certain places to certain audiences. The approach is everything,. The hard sell hardly ever works. Selling too hard tends to turn people off.

20. “Be aware of Generation Z. You need to understand them. Social responsibility in business and authenticity are important to them, as they are growing up in a scary world in an unstable economy. They want benevolence.”

— Steve Chirello, owner Chirello Advertising, Fulton.