In pervious articles, we focused on targeting a niche, the WHO that benefit most from your services. Now we turn our attention to generating leads from that given niche and creating a marketing plan for success (the HOW.)
Once you have identified the WHO, you must set about a plan to communicate with them in order to capture that business. Don’t neglect a single person within the target. If you have singled out a particular neighborhood, for example, every waiter from every restaurant and every manager/owner of every business in that area should know your name and game. A branded, consistent image is essential, and you should carry—and leave it—wherever you go. The persona you present should be just as consistent: friendly, competent, and willing to help.
Master marketing blogger and author Seth Godin reminds us that marketing is simply a matter of spreading ideas—but that the very action of dispersing those ideas is a powerful force. He suggests that your marketing be a form of storytelling: let the consumer know you and your business through a memorable narrative. The story can be told in print, such as a glossy brochure or easily remembered business motto or slogan, but it also should be told through every visual image you present to the public as well: your website banners, stationery, postcards, etc.
Let’s use for example your target neighborhood again. You have identified the WHO in the niche and now want to reach them. They are a mix of upper-middle class singles and families, mostly professional, who support their neighborhood through school and community events. The neighborhood houses a city park, a few small, locally owned restaurants, and a scattering of businesses. What is your marketing plan to attract them? What story will you tell?
First, be visible. Be present in the neighborhood, supporting it. Live in it! If you are handing out flyers (or sponsoring?) the local half-marathon, everything that represents you and your business should be immediately recognizable: your logo, your colors, every image that tells your story. If you want to connect in this neighborhood, shouldn’t your photo on your website and promotional materials include an image of that park? If you are a runner, the consumer should see you in those shorts. A volunteer? Publish the image of your cause with you in it. To paraphrase the humorist, Nora Ephron, “everything is copy,” so get out there and get your story told with the real—and relevant–details of your life.
Second, be different. Seth Godin also warns us that “people only notice the new.” (ALL MARKETERS ARE LIARS, 2005.) The truth is, there are an awful lot of people who do what you do. So what do you do that is so different? Or how can you change what you do to be different? “Hot pizza, 30 minutes or less” is a differentiating distinction in a business of countless competition. You can’t “provide the best service” and be considered different from all the rest. But define the best service, and perform it, and you will succeed. We know of one real estate team that grew to become the top producers in their market by answering phone calls in five minutes or less, emails and text messages within ten minutes. They advertised this difference and delivered on it, convincing the public that they were interested in providing them immediate attention and service. Listing appointments included “the test:” potential sellers calling anonymously from a coded listing, only to have an agent return the call within five minutes and ask if they needed assistance on a particular home. Slam dunk.
Third, be active. Do not confuse having a “marketing strategy” with having an “action plan.” You must invest your time, effort, and dollars in securing the specific marketing resources which target your clientele and give you the best return on your investment. Big doesn’t always mean better, but then again, sometimes it does. Do your homework. Select media which fit both your budget and your goals. Then put your plan into effect.
Finally, analyze results. Track every lead to its source of origination. In that way, you can determine which marketing resources are working best, and which are most cost effective. You will know when and how (much) to change only if you track and account for your leads.
In the end, it is pretty simple: Tell your story well to as many people as possible.