Five Steps to Set Yourself Up for Marketing Success in 2014

shutterstock_173731853 One of the biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs make is putting the cart before the horse when it comes to their marketing. Frazzled and overwhelmed, they feel the need to try everything and be everywhere (which never works, by the way), and ultimately leaves them feeling paralyzed and more confused than ever.

We are bombarded with information and ideas. If you’ve spent any time online in the past 24 hours, chances are you’ve seen hundreds of posts, articles, videos, programs and infographics – all begging for your attention.

But reading every article, signing up for every program and trying every bright, shiny marketing object in your peripheral vision does not guarantee more clients and business success.

In fact, it’s the opposite.

An effective marketing strategy isn’t about throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. It’s about finding the exact ingredients that make your pasta sauce the best anyone has ever tasted and focusing on those.

What is it about you that’s so unique, so special and inviting, and so darn flavorful?

Here are five things you can do right now to find out:

1.     Decide where you want to be one year from today – there’s an old saying, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” The beginning of the new year is a great time to write out exactly where you want your business to be on 12/31/14. Write it in the present tense, as if it’s already happened: What have you accomplished? Who have you worked with? What milestones have you hit? What are you most excited about?

 When you have a clearer picture of where you’re going, it’s much easier to design the map to get you there. Once you know your greatest objectives and desires, you can reverse engineer your marketing plan to meet them.

2.     Identify your target market – before you can effectively market to anyone, you have to know exactly who they are. You have to know their pain points – what keeps them up at night – and also their biggest aspirations and desires. In order to effectively engage and interact with your potential clients (hello, marketing!), you must know them as well as you know yourself.

 Start in your own backyard. Ask your current clients and those on your list what they really want and need (these can sometimes be drastically different, so make sure to read between the lines). Distribute questionnaires, take a few clients to lunch or set up an easy three to five question survey using a resource like Survey Monkey and send it out to your list with a great bonus in exchange for completing it. You won’t get answers until you start asking good questions.

My Story

3.     Define your WHY and own your story – In order to stand out, you’ve got to be connected to WHY you do what you do and tell a better story. Remember, people don’t care how much you know, they want to know how much you care. And you can’t effectively express how much you care without referencing your big WHY – it’s often the connecting thread that ties everything together. And you’ll find that the people who are attracted to you in the first place – who “get” you and want to be a part of your tribe – share something that relates to your WHY.

In other words, a well-defined WHY makes for a better story, which makes for much clearer, more effective marketing.

4.     Create a content outline – Based on the information you have culled from the three points above, start brainstorming about types of content you would like to create (blog posts, videos, podcasts, radio interviews, e-books, social updates, photos, quotes, etc.) that will appeal to your target market. What can you do consistently that will educate, entertain and inspire? How can you be more useful to your audience? Don’t worry so much about the HOW right now, just get all of your ideas on paper.

Later, as you begin to create your marketing plan, you’ll refer back to this list and create an editorial calendar that will help you deliver consistent content – information that your audience is interested in and actually wants to consume.

5.     Identify your cheerleaders – pick 10 to 20 people who have your back and love what you do. These could be previous or current clients, individuals you’ve worked with in the past, good friends or even family members. Anyone who’s referred you business? Definitely a cheerleader. Someone who’s introduced you to multiple connections that have helped you along the way? A cheerleader. A peer who may be a few steps ahead of you in business that always graciously interacts with you at conferences? Cheerleader. The point here is to identify those people who ultimately will be doing your word of mouth marketing for you.

 Remember, it’s MUCH more powerful for someone else to talk about how fabulous you are than you tooting your own horn.

Now here’s the important part: take care of your cheerleaders, always. Ask how you can help THEM, remember their special occasions, send them business referrals and a card (or phone call) on their birthday – whatever it takes to show them how much you care and appreciate them.

For some very successful people, this one step alone is the only marketing they ever need. They have so much business coming to them through the people they have served and cared for over time, that they just don’t need to do much else to keep their business thriving.

Once you have taken the time to get clear about WHERE you want to go, WHY you do what you do and exactly WHO you do it for, then you’ll be much better prepared to create a marketing plan that fits you like a glove.

And when you add the powerful ingredients of useful content and cheerleaders who sing your praises at every turn, you’ll have a winning recipe.

© Liz Dennery Sanders 2014


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