New Year’s resolutions to jump start your marketing

Like it or not, you need to market your practice if you want to ensure a steady revenue stream. The start of a new year is a good time to look at what’s working or not with your existing marketing and resolve to do better or try new ways to market. Here are a few resolutions to consider for 2018: (more…)

6 steps to creating a marketing budget to grow your business

One of the biggest reasons marketing fails is because firms don’t set aside appropriate resources to getting it done. Regardless of the size of your budget, if you want to be effective, you need to think carefully about how and where you spend your time and money. How do you do that? (more…)

Biggest marketing takeaways for small firms

How can small firms improve their marketing? Earlier this month, I joined a panel discussion on marketing at the Long Island Tax Professionals Symposium sharing tips on how small firms can successfully market their practice. Regardless of what kind of professional service firm you have, the same rules apply – firms must clearly differentiate themselves, be consistent in their marketing and focus on building relationships. (more…)

Personal branding tips to grow your business

By Edie Reinhardt and Marla Seiden.

Do you have a personal brand? Many people don’t know what a personal brand is and can’t identify their own brand. As a result, they can’t maximize their brand to improve their career and business prospects. Your brand describes what you’re known for and what people expect from you. (more…)

Top 10 marketing dos and don’ts

Many professionals aren’t comfortable with marketing. Good marketing isn’t a mystery, but it does take time to figure out. A good way to get started is to consider some marketing dos and don’ts to guide your efforts so they will be more effective in attracting business. (more…)

How marketing can grow your business

Do you know what it takes to grow your business? At a recent program hosted by The Alternative Board, speaker, Pete Hayes of Chief Outsiders, spoke about how the right “Insight, Strategy and Execution” can drive business growth. (more…)

Top 10 Marketing Tips for 2017

Successful marketing is tough. There isn’t a magic bullet, but there are tactics that can help you succeed. We’ve created a list of some of our favorite tips to take you into the new year (more…)

How to create an effective marketing plan

image-marketing plan cartoonA marketing plan is essential to successful marketing. You set goals, define your audience, determine priorities and look at where and how you should focus your resources for the most impact. As part of the planning process you also analyze your business and financial situation so you can make informed decisions about your needs and resources.

Without a plan, you run the risk of spending time and money on an assortment of different tactics without a clearly defined purpose. Maybe some of those efforts will work. But what about the things that don’t work, or more likely, you’re not really sure what is working or could be working better. When you act without a marketing plan, you’re more likely to engage in random acts of marketing, which wastes precious resources.

An effective marketing plan needs all of these

1. Define your strategy(ies) first. Successful marketing requires that you have a strategy and a plan. The strategy defines your goals – what do you want to achieve and why. The plan is about how you’re going to do it – what steps do you need to take to implement your strategy.

2. Put it in writing. According to the 2016 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America study of 3700 companies, “B2B marketers who have a documented content marketing strategy get better results from their content marketing tactics, social media platforms, and paid methods of content distribution compared to those without a written strategy.” The study focused on content marketing, but its good business practice to put your plans in writing.

3. Allocate appropriate resources. Once you know what you want to accomplish and what you need to do to get there, you have to put aside enough time, money and bodies. The Ascend 2016 State of Digital Marketing Survey found that the most significant barrier to success in digital marketing was an inadequate marketing budget. Lack of internal skills/training was number 2 on the list. Think about who can handle what tasks, both in terms of time and ability. Outsource if necessary. If you don’t have the funds or the staff to do everything you want to do, then start with a small, simple project. Be realistic about your needs and resources otherwise your plan will go nowhere fast.

4. Measure results. The metrics you choose will vary depending on your goals. Think in terms of short-, mid- and long-term goals. The ultimate goal for firms is usually to grow revenue, but that takes a long time. You want some interim measurements in order to gauge your progress. For example, new business starts with new leads, which may start with increasing visibility. If you’re looking at website metrics, do you want to measure growth in new visitors to your website or look at repeat visits or how much time someone spent on the site? Make sure your metrics are appropriate and you use them properly. Marketing is a process of testing, measuring and revising.

5. Revisit your plan regularly. It’s a good practice to look at your plan annually or more often if your business has changed in some way. Consider your financial and competitive situation as well as your results to date.

Invest in creating a solid marketing plan for your business. It will be worth it.

For help in creating your marketing plan, contact us for a consultation.

 

4 strategies for business and marketing success

Checkmate, Business Strategy ConceptIn the last few months I attended 2 very different events on how to grow and compete as a business. Both addressed the importance of understanding what differentiates your business and building the right internal culture and operations. Neither focused on marketing per se, but marketing was an important component. Every successful business needs to determine what it stands for (its brand) and then strategically communicate that value internally and externally. That lesson and the 4 takeaways below can help any organization find success in managing, operating and marketing its business.

1. Play to win. “Playing to win” means being focused and acting intentionally. In other words, don’t just react to changes; be strategic and have a real plan. Think about where you want to be and how you can get there. What kind of organization or team do you need? What are your obstacles? Where should you invest? Create appropriate goals and benchmarks so you know what you need to accomplish today to move you along the right path. And put it all in writing. Documenting your vision, strategies and goals will help you get focused and stay on track. It also lets everyone within the company know where you’re all going so they can feel engaged. This applies to general business planning as well marketing planning. Certainly marketing without a strategic plan is one of the biggest reasons why marketing fails.

2. Be different. Does your pitch/mission statement sound just like your competitors? Everyone says they offer quality service, care about their clients, and have tons of experience. So how are you really different? When you don’t differentiate, then you’re vulnerable to competing on price and turning your services into a commodity. Take the time to identify your unique value proposition and understand your target audiences and their pain points. The goal is to develop an authentic marketing message that resonates with your clients and prospects. You want to find your sweet spot – the place where you can speak with credibility and authority on topics that truly matter to your audience and your business. So know what makes you special and communicate clearly how that brings value to your clients so you don’t end up cutting your prices to get the business.

3. Pay attention to your work culture. According to a recent study by the National Center for the Middle Market, a well-established employer brand and compelling employee value proposition (EVP) help companies secure talent against their larger competitors and drive significantly higher revenue. (A company’s employer brand is the image and reputation it has as a place to work. Its EVP represents the tangible and intangible benefits people receive in return for working at the company.) In fact, in a study by the CFO Alliance, 95% of CFOs agreed work culture has an effect on the company’s bottom line. What does this mean for businesses? Your work culture is part of your brand. You need to identify, nurture and market it if you want to attract and retain the right talent to grow revenue.

And once you’ve got these great employees, keep them involved and motivated to help promote your brand inside and outside the organization. How can you do that? One way is to ask employees to share their experience and insights in the form of training materials, blog posts, newsletter articles, video or other content. If it’s challenging for them to create the content, give them appropriate resources. At a minimum, encourage them to share news and information that the company is putting out. And remember to publicly acknowledge their efforts. You want to engage your employees and show them they are valued, not dump work on them that they don’t want.

4. Invest the time in doing things right. The number one reason businesses give for not taking the business advice mentioned above is that they don’t have time. However, as succinctly put by Kelly Riggs in one of the events I attended, “leadership is about knowing how to invest your time.” Successful companies take the time to look critically at their business and figure out where they want to get to and how. They make long-term investments and appreciate that ROI is measured in more than just dollars.

Thanks to the speakers from “Aligning Your Employees with the Company’s Business Objectives,” at The CFO Alliance Quarterly Roundtable Series and “Winning Business in Any Economy: 4 mistakes you can’t afford to make,” at HIA-LI’s 27th Annual Business Trade Show & Conference.