December is typically a time for companies to develop a marketing plan for the coming year. As 2011 winds down and companies determine a plan to attract new clients and increase revenue for 2012, Bop Design, a marketing agency based in San Diego and New Jersey, reminds small businesses of five critical trends and components of an effective 2012 small business marketing plan.
One Tactic is Not a Strategy
Implementing a marketing plan that focuses on just one tactic is not a strategy. Bop Design Business Principal, Jeremy Durant, states, “I meet many small business owners who brag about how all their business is through referral or professional networking. That’s a fine strategy if you want to remain stagnate. If you want to grow, you can’t select one marketing tactic like networking and expect to dramatically increase your client pool.” Bop Design recommends a tactical mix that can include web marketing, print advertising, networking, referrals, direct mail, email marketing, etc. The optimal mix depends on a business’ ideal client and resources. Bop Design mentions that they have some clients who are allocating all marketing funds to the web, which can be shortsighted. “Clients come to us and want a new website design for their firm. That’s a great start but if the new website design is not part of an overall strategy, I would not waste your money.”
Marketing and Sales Alignment
As marketing planning begins for 2012, it is important that the sales department is involved from the start. Durant mentions, “Marketing may devise a strategy that is not effective in generating or nurturing ideal customer leads for the sales department. Marketing’s top priority is helping the sales team perform their job better so a business can generate more revenue.” Bop Design suggests that key sales team members are present in the initial marketing meetings to provide feedback marketing successes and failures. The sales team can then identify marketing tools that can help them build more credibility with prospects. “Marketing may make a false assumption on the success or failure of a campaign. For instance, marketing may implement a SEO campaign that drives many people to the firm’s website, prompting a large number of visitors to complete a website form requesting more information. Marketing may assume the campaign was a success but maybe the inquiries did not fit the ideal customer profile – wasting the sales team’s time.”
Delegate the Right Tasks
As a small business owner determines marketing functions for 2012, an owner needs to remember that typically no one does a better job at selling a firm’s services than they do. “Sometimes business owners delegate the wrong tasks to employees. When they become busy, the owner will hire a sales person while he or she performs administrative tasks. No one is better at conveying the value of his or her business than the owner. They are the ultimate brand evangelists.” Unfortunately many small business owners “stay inside” working on operations and don’t practice their core competency. Bop Design recommends that a business owner remains involved with professional networking. “They live and breathe the business and that naturally makes them the ultimate sales person.”
Social Media is here to stay!
Many small businesses, especially B2B firms, are resistant to any social media marketing. Durant adds, “We work with B2B firms that refuse to be active on social media – they think it is a fad and not an effective branding vehicle.” No matter if a firm is B2C or B2B, Bop Design advises its clients to build out their company profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn and make sure that all employees are linked to the company. As salespeople make face-to-face connections at networking events, they should follow up with a social media connection. “At the very least, social media is an effective method to stay top of mind with connections and position your firm as a thought leader in a particular industry.” Bop Design encourages a firm to post all news, press releases, success stories and relevant business articles on their social media accounts. “Social media allows a small business to amplify their brand message to existing connections, helping their sales team nurture a lead from an original inquiry to a customer.”
The “I know 50% of my marketing is working, I just wish I knew which 50%” excuse is not valid anymore. With the analytical tools available especially on the web, it is relatively easy to determine which marketing tactics are effective and which ones are not. Google Analytics recently released “In-Page Analytics,” which provides an intuitive, visual representation of the actions taken by webpage visitors. In one quick view, a business can see the content and images effective in driving traffic through their website. Durant adds, “With Google Analytics, a business owner can not only determine if a marketing tactic was effective in driving people to the firm’s website but then see if the website design and content was effective in prompting action and engagement.”
Google has released another easy-to-use tool called the Google Optimizer. This tool lets a business test content, titles, images and other variables on a firm’s webpages. One can choose two webpages on the website and set up a Multivariate Experiment for each of the pages to test the content and/or layout of the page to see if a firm can increase clicks or conversion. “The analytical tools available allow a business decision maker to make optimal decisions on their marketing strategy and fine-tune tactics throughout 2012.”
About Bop Design, San Diego and New Jersey Web Design
Bop Design is a boutique marketing communications firm headquartered in San Diego with offices also in New Jersey. We express your business’ values through web design, branding, advertising and print design. We also help attract your ideal customer through search engine optimization and search engine marketing. Our focus is on small businesses that want an external team of marketing specialists to help give their brand an edge in the marketplace.