Market like a guerrilla
Many small to medium sized enterprises start up their businesses with high hopes, a million and one things to take care of and – no marketing plan. Ironically, a solid marketing plan with structured activity over 12 months is the one thing that can keep your business going when customers become scarce and the economy falters.
Despite this, few business owners sit down and commit a marketing plan to paper, incorrectly believing it needs to be over 20 pages long and full of complex market research and competitive analysis. If this sounds like you, the good news is, there’s a solution. It’s called: Guerrilla Marketing.
Guerrilla Marketing is a term coined by Jay Conrad Levinson and is a type of marketing that relies upon imagination, energy, consumer engagement and time, rather than a huge budget to produce sales. Using this school of thought, you can create a marketing plan that’s around 3-5 pages long and contains only the most powerful income generating strategies available to you, rather than the 20+ page behemoth of the old school.
So where to start?
1. Consider the major problem your product or service solves.
What need or problem does your target market have – and how does your offering meet that need or solve that problem?
2. Who is your target market?
Identify which customers are your best prospects and hold the most value. Research your clientele and discover why they really buy your products and services, what they currently think about them and how they use them.
3. Identify the most important benefit a customer receives from your product/service.
(A feature is a characteristic of a product, a benefit is what someone gains from your product/service.) If you want customers to hand over their money, you need all your marketing efforts and material to focus on the benefits, not features.
5. Why should a customer buy from your company instead of a competitor?
What benefit will a customer receive from doing business with your company, as opposed to purchasing from your competitor?
6. Determine your company’s position in the marketplace.
This will help you create a powerful slogan to use in your marketing materials and is centered around whatever it is that you stake your reputation on – do you have the highest quality product/service, the lowest price, the highest safety levels, the largest selection or something else?
7. What is your guarantee?
Do you put your money where your mouth is? Do you stand by your assertion of the ‘best quality’, ‘most effective’ or ‘satisfaction guaranteed’? How do you demonstrate your guarantee and educate your customers about it?
8. Decide upon a sales (and other) goals for the next 12-months.
It’s essential to discern what it is you want to achieve with your marketing efforts and you need to be specific. So if you want to increase sales, quantify by how much - i.e., $150k. If it’s generating new leads, specify how many per month. Decide what success looks like to you- it might be a shift in customer perception or a correction of false beliefs about your product.
9. Set a marketing budget.
As a guide, your budget should be at least 10% of your projected 12-month sales goal.
10. Draw up a month-by-month checklist of marketing activity you plan to undertake.
This should comprise the most powerful and cost effective marketing and PR strategies to achieve your 12-month goals, given the research and consideration you’ve given to the points above. Decide what will be the most effective methods to market your product to your target audience – will it be e-newsletters, a viral e-campaign, a targeted street give-away (sampling), ongoing press releases, a value-added blog or a unique direct mail campaign?
Track your efforts
Once you’ve created your 12 month Guerrilla Marketing Plan, make sure you track your efforts so you can note what worked and what didn’t, in order to increase your ROI in future. A good method of tracking is to create a unique code for each of your marketing campaigns and enter their results into a database for future analysis. You might even like to do ‘split campaigns’, where you use one headline on an e-campaign to send to half your database and a different headline on the same campaign to the other half of your database. Remember, for your tracking to be of use, your tests need to be standardised.
The benefits of planning
Instead of just discounting 20% when times get tough, a Guerrilla Marketing Plan will enable you to weather the ups and downs of consumer sentiment, without harming your bottom line and without the use of elaborate charts or complicated plans. If you don’t plan your marketing activity and just rely on sheer luck or the shotgun approach, you’ll lose out on opportunities, sales and potentially waste money.
(c) 10x Limited 2011.