Know what you want to achieve before spending a penny. According to The Wall Street Journal, only 14% of small businesses have an annual business plan in writing, and 60% have no plan on paper at all. Considering that a business plan is the precursor to a marketing plan, it stands to reason that even fewer businesses have a marketing plan. That's good news for you: if you take the time to create a marketing plan, you will stand head and shoulders above your competition.
You should have a marketing plan before spending any money on advertising or promotion. You may get great deals on advertising, but if it doesn't fit your objectives, you are wasting your money.
Know your audience demographics and psychographics. It's important to know that you sell most of your widgets to 39-year-old married women with 2.4 children. But even more powerful ad decisions are predicated on psychographics - what are her hobbies, politics, charities?
Don't try to be an expert at everything. Small-business people are inherently self-sufficient, but we can take it too far. Outsource tasks and projects that are outside your comfort range or are simply too time- consuming. This goes for services from legal and accounting to marketing and design.
Treat your employees as customers. Employee churn can be devastating to client satisfaction and retention. The impact of happy employees will have far-reaching effects on other employees and your customers.
Not every customer is worth keeping You cannot be all things to all people. Sometimes you have to let customers go, and refocus energies on those clients who are a better fit for your business. At the outset of a business, it's hard to believe you will ever need to "break up" with a customer, but there may come a time when you are no longer "meant for each other."
Getting a new customer is five times more expensive than retaining a current customer. Customer retention is a matter of business survival. Use your successes with current customers to attract new referral business. Focus on the happiness of your current clients, make them feel loved and appreciated all the time.
Don't be rushed into making decisions. If your marketing and media plan is in place, there is no need to make hasty buying decisions. A marketing and media plan will help keep you on budget throughout the year.
Don't abandon your marketing and advertising too soon. Just because you are tired of an ad doesn't mean it's time to pull it -- your prospect probably hasn't even noticed it yet. Don't expect overnight success from your advertising, especially if you're selling a service.
Select a "media mix" for success. Advertising in one medium alone won't cut it. Mix TV with radio, print with the Internet, direct mail with trade shows.
Goofs can be your friends. You will make errors in judgment along the way. That's OK. Remember the mistakes you have made, and you will make better decisions next time.