Some would say marketing is EVERYTHING you do for your business that makes any kind of impression on your target market, from the way that the receptionist answers the phone, to your advertising and customer service. And while it’s true that anything public-facing will make either a positive or negative impression on prospects and customers, that definition is so all-encompassing it’s not particularly helpful at understanding where to focus your attention in order to grow your business through marketing.

Defining Business Marketing

Most business owners want to make a pile of money…and they want it fast! So my definition is:

Marketing is simply a process of reducing the amount of time, money and available resources in the most efficient way possible to spread the word to your target market and existing customers about the products and services you offer, making it easy for them to buy. The more efficient your marketing is, the more profits you make.

The trick is choosing and executing a marketing strategy the costs the least amount of money for the maximum results (purchases) in the shortest amount of time.

Great Branding Creates Its Own Marketing Momentum

In this week’s broadcast of “Marcia’s Medleys,” I discussed how companies with great branding generate their own marketing momentum as customers are so familiar with and loyal to these brands that they’ll buy whatever the company has to offer. According to Forbes, the Top 10 Most Valuable Brands of 2015 are:

  1. Apple,
  2. Microsoft
  3. Google
  4. Coca Cola
  5. IBM
  6. McDonalds
  7. Samsung
  8. Toyota
  9. General Electric
  10. Facebook

But how does a small or start-up company in Sonoma (for example) build its brand to achieve the results of (or a fraction thereof) these companies?

Marketing 101 – Rolling Up Your Sleeves

There are three primary phases of the marketing process:

  1. Build Awareness
  2. Drive sales
  3. Build brand loyalty – repeat customers

Part three is where companies in the Top 10 (above) have long been holding sway. How did they get there?

Developing a Marketing Plan

Luck played little or no part in the success of Forbes’ most valuable brands. They had a plan to get there! And while there are myriad ways to construct a marketing plan (try Google!), a good plan will address these key issues:

  1. What economic and business environment are you experiencing?
  2. What opportunities and problems/challenges are you facing?
  3. What business objectives do you expect to achieve?
  4. What exactly do you sell?
  5. Who specifically are your customers/targets?
  6. Why should these people buy your products or services rather than your competitors’?
  7. How will you communicate your product or service to your customers/targets?
  8. Who will do what, when?
  9. How are you going to measure and report your progress?

Who will execute your plan?

For the small business owner just opening her doors, the initial gut instinct may be to say, “I can do it myself!” But I must warn you: there are only 24 hours in a day. More importantly, I bet you’d prefer to spend your working hours in that day making money—not spending it or doing tasks geared towards bringing in the business. DO the business.

Whether or not you’re just opening your doors or growing your existing business, here are some great reasons to hire a marketing expert to help bring in new business:

  • The ‘Feast and Famine’ cycle repeats over and over
  • Need to reach the greatest volume of target audience quickly
  • Entering a new market or launching a new product line
  • Too expensive to add someone to your payroll

And while you may be thinking of ways to manage those four reasons to hire one or more experts to help you out, I’ll remind you of those 24 hours in a day! Even if you can squeeze it all in, should you?

Marketing specialists you’ll need

Few of us have Leonardo DaVinci’s renaissance skills (and energy) in a vast array of specialties. Here are marketing specialists you’ll likely need at some point:

  • Graphic Designer – logo/identity, sign, business cards, website, social media channels, brochure/catalog, video
  • Website Designer – and SEO specialist
  • Printer
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Social Media Manager
  • Copywriter
  • Photographer
  • Videographer

These are just a few of the potential specialists you may need to hire. But the most important one I saved for last: the Marketing Consultant. This person can help you determine how to best spend your marketing budget—the one you created when you worked with her on your marketing plan.

Should you hire a graphic designer first? Or the website designer? Or maybe you need to spread the word to the masses before the other pieces are in place, so you opt to hire a social media expert to begin building your audience online.

Conveniently, for the small business owner in Sonoma, all of these specialists are available to you in our small town. In fact, there are a near endless array of marketing specialists in Sonoma (and around the world) happy to help you build awareness, drive sales, and nurture brand loyalty so your business thrives in our small town. Without promoting any one specific venue for marketing your business (so I’ll leave off the links), here are just some of the tactics and tools you may wish to add to your marketing plan here in Sonoma:

  • Radio and TV (KSVY)
  • Sonoma Index-Tribune, Sonoma Sun, Press Democrat
  • Sonoma Magazine
  • North Bay Biz Journal
  • Signs/Billboards – Sidewalk
  • Tuesday and Friday Farmer’s Market
  • Stompers Baseball – Outfield and Program Advertising
  • Music Festivals – Printed Programs
  • Door Hangers
  • Direct Mail / Postcards
  • Online (Social, Website, Search, Video)
  • Contest/Promotional
  • Public Relations – Press Releases
  • Referral/Relationship: Chamber of Commerce, BNI and Sonoma Valley Executives
  • Local Trade Shows and Events
  • Grocery Stores – Shopping Cart Advertising
  • Skywriting or signage – Sonoma Valley Vintage Airport
  • Giveaways – pens, pencils, coffee mugs, aprons, magnets, key fobs, etc.

Measuring Success

Now that your business has taken off like a shot using some of these tools, don’t forget the most important part:

  • Set your goals – What are you trying to achieve?
  • Measure your results! What’s your conversion for each tactic and overall? Know your ROI!

Now that you’ve got the fundamentals down pat you’ve got the freedom to choose what will work best for your business.

Click the Play button above to hear the replay of the broadcast.  You can jump to different topics in the broadcast using the guide below:

Time Topic
1:42 Definition of “Marketing”
3:58 All That Jazz from “Chicago” cast album – Catherine Zeta Jones  / Renee Zellweger
10:50 Top 10 Most Valuable Brands per Forbes in 2015
12:20 3 Primary Phases of Marketing
14:30 Razzle Dazzle, “Chicago” cast album – Richard Gere
19:10 Elements of a Marketing PlanWhat does it do?
26:00 Marketing Specialists you may need to execute your Marketing Plan
28:46 I Can’t Do It All Alone, “Chicago” cast album – Catherine Zeta Jones
32:55 SPONSOR: Rick Bolen Photography
36:26 If you don’t use an expert to help you execute your marketing plan
36:46 Mister Cellophane, “Chicago” cast album – John C. Reilly
42:30 Moving On, “Chicago” cast album – Catherine Zeta Jones, Renee Zellweger
47:00 List of Sonoma Marketing Tools/Venues for local businesses