Everyone talks about having an effective marketing plan. But how many small businesses truly have one? If its been awhile since you directionslooked at yours, pull it out and dust it off. How you look for new clients has changed over the past few years. If your approach to gaining new customers hasn’t changed, maybe its time to try something new. 

Step 1 Decide who your target market is. Hint: It isn’t everyone between the ages of 18 and 80. Niche it down. The more detailed and focused you can gear your products and services to, the easier it will be to find your audience.

Step 2 Create your branding. Once you have your niche in mind, tell it to your prospects through your website, blog, and marketing materials. Make it obvious where your business focus is. Don’t say “accounting for small businesses” if you’re really targeting “accounting and tax help for small retail stores”. Be obvious.

Step 3 Educate your clients instead of marketing to them. How perceptive are you to marketing now? Do you regularly find new products and services through ads and direct mail? Chances are the answer is no. Today more than ever, people want knowledge first, and products/services second. We want to gather information to educate ourselves on what our next purchase will be. The company that educates the best is usually where a purchase is made.

Step 4 Quit selling. Selling in today’s market takes patience and a process. You can’t sell in one step. Instead, set up a process that leads people from point to point, gathering more information about what you do and how you can help. For example, a 3×5 postcard might lead to a website. On the website, a person can sign up for a 7 day e-course. The e-course leads to a wealth of information, and a special offer on a product at the end of the course.

Step 5 Expand your audience. A great thing about today’s tools is you have a ton of different options. If you’ve been using traditional marketing effectively, continue it. But add in different websites and blogs. Try gathering a new following using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Or watch for heavily followed niche social sites. The key is going where you can reach a high level of potential prospects.

Step 6 Capture attention from the media. Never had an article published in a magazine or trade publication? Give it a shot. Also look for online sources that take in information. It’s easy to connect up with owners or publishers of news sources since many of them use social sites and are active online as well. Ask – you may be surprised at how much you achieve.

Step 7 Lead your referral line. Referrals don’t just happen. They take guidance along the way. Having a great system in place is your starting point for a great referral network. If a client can plug a potential client in step 2 from above, it’s easier for you to convert them into paying clients. They’ve already received a great testimonial, and read your information. Getting them to purchase takes no time at all. 

Ready to learn even more about creating a great online marketing strategy? Join me for my Online Marketing Strategy Class April 28th at 10:00am Mountain time.

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