red_strategyFor many small-business owners, finding the right marketing strategy might not be at the top of the priority list. Behind serving existent customers, reducing overhead, managing employees, attending meetings, and—on top of it all—answering emails and messages, devising a long-term marketing strategy might not seem as urgent.

The truth is that this is a recipe for disaster. Implementing the ideal strategy is not only necessary for business growth, it is probably the most important component to any successful venture.

Whether yours is a software industry startup, an information technology firm, or a mobile app developer, devising a successful marketing strategy is especially crucial due to the rapid changes across the market.

If you want to ensure the long-term success of your business in a sustainable and measurable fashion, then follow these first steps for building a strategy that will make the most of your marketing dollars:

Devise the Strategy before the Tactics

Although it may be tempting to implement the latest great idea for generating leads, a business owner without a long-term marketing strategy is like a coach who works on technique without an overall game plan.

To begin, first define who your ideal customer is as specifically as possible. This might seem like you’re limiting your potential client base, but many businesses fail precisely because they attempt to please all people. Without a focused audience, you might find yourself catering to wrong or hard-to-please clients who actually limit growth rather than promote it.
Next, find ways to make your business stand out from the competition. This is a well-known principle, but few companies really follow it. Most companies believe they’re different from the competition, but much of the time it turns out that there are a dozen businesses who provide a similar service or product. That eliminates any differences, leaving price as the only factor.

Focus on the Customer Experience to Generating Referrals

Most small-business owners make the mistake of generating leads without nurturing them until they become referrals. As with any relationship, getting a client to become a loyal customer takes hard work, time, and investment.
While many expect leads to instantly convert into sales and referrals, there are actually several steps to the customer experience. The Marketing Hourglass™ details these steps as: Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat and Refer.
Having Refer as the ultimate goal of your marketing strategy can help you devise a customer experience to nurture potential clients at each step and convert a large proportion of them into happy customers who will instinctively do the work of generating more leads for you.

Create Educational and Trust Building Content

Since marketing is much more than placing ads and sending emails, businesses should aim to create long-lasting relationships with their customers. Publishing a continuous supply of information, relevant, and interesting content will keep prospects and customers engaged. By offering educational white papers, webinars, and blogs specifically tailored to your audience’s needs and to your marketing strategy, your potential customers will begin to gain trust in your expertise.

Establish a Budget and Calendar

Once you understand the Who, What, Why and How of your marketing strategy your will need to thing about the When and Where. Creating a marketing budget and calendar will help you plan and execute the creation and use of marketing assets, prioritize your activity, and ensure your marketing is more relevant and timely. Your business may never have used a marketing budget or calendar before but this simple idea will help you reduce your marketing costs, get better results, and help you manage marketing like a system rather than an afterthought or one-time event.

Your marketing strategy doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the simpler your strategy the more likely it will be successful.

To learn more about the steps to devising an effective marketing strategy, feel free to download this free e-book.

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