By: Denise Blackburn-Gay, APR

Just a few months into the new year, businesses, with goals in mind, have their eyes set on the prize—their end of the year profitability. You see, it’s not where you start, its where you end. Every business plan should be written with the end in mind. What do you want to accomplish? How will you get there and what will get in the way? We all know that the road from beginning to end is a long and arduous one and the journey is hampered by circumstances we cannot control: the economy, interest rates, and the retail landscape which sees competitors moving in and out of our marketplace. In addition, changes within your own organization affect your processes and your profitability. How do you cope? What can you do to ensure that the road from beginning to end is a smooth and profitable one?

While marketing alone—good marketing, that is— cannot ensure your success, it is certainly your roadmap. They key is marketing that moves the needle. What’s the difference? Practically every business does some sort of marketing. Without a plan, it becomes a shot gun effect. There is a little money in the coffers and an ad rep appears on the doorstep offering a magical solution to your business woes. You decide to ‘try it and see’. It doesn’t work and you are soured both on advertising and its outcome. It wasn’t the product that didn’t work, it was the process. Marketing (advertising) without a goal is worthless. Start with a goal, a sensible budget, and a plan.

Market with clarity. Focus on who you are, what you offer and who your customers are. Marketing, done correctly, builds the brand and paints a visual image in the consumer’s mind that, in turn, builds top of mind awareness. This image building is important. You won’t always reach customers when they are ready to make a purchase, but you will make an impression that will leave an indelible mark.

Consider your content. Engage with your customers. People don’t want to be talked to, they want to be part of the conversation. They want to see themselves in your message. Whether you are selling custom homes or healthcare, the message needs to be delivered to people just like them. In today’s digital world, content includes video and social media along with reviews, blogs, papers, and eBooks. It’s all marketing. I recently saw a billboard that read, “It’s the Ingredients that Matter.” The same can be said of marketing.

Make your business visible. This is the one aspect of marketing that will never change—regardless of your target or advertising medium. Visibility is not just about where they see your message and how often, it’s about how they see you as a company. It’s about your image in the marketplace and in the minds of your consumers. It’s your brand and it’s priceless. Manage it well.

And finally, measure with purpose. Measurement has been on everyone’s mind lately. It’s the new industry buzzword and for good reason. With confessions from Facebook and others about how their data doesn’t tell the complete story, the results we have are less than stellar. Your marketing objectives should be directly related to profit, revenue, customer retention and satisfaction.

Denise Blackburn-Gay, PR is President and CEO of Marketing Strategies, Inc., a Myrtle Beach agency that has been providing strategic marketing and PR to the building industry and others since 1997. Her expertise includes research and consultation. For more information contact her at denise@martketingstrategiesinc.com or call (843) 692-9662

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