This article appears in the Jan/Feb 2016 issue of Business Franchise Australia & New Zealand
Why do so many New Year’s resolutions fail? Or diets that start so strong on day one never make it past day eight? It is inherent to human nature not to plan past the initial idea of wanting to do better and therefore never making a solid long term plan for success. This is also true when it comes to business growth.
Planning is the key to success. As the old adage says, failing to plan is planning to fail. Starting strong in 2016 will put you on the front foot for a successful year ahead so it is really worth thinking about your business and marketing strategy that will help grow your business in 2016.
It may be hard to predict what opportunities and threats your business may face in 2016, but having a solid business and marketing plan in place will reduce the likelihood of your business growth being stunted by this unpredictability.
Putting the cart before the horse
Strategy must set the course for your marketing. While there are a myriad of marketing activities that you can undertake to grow your business, setting a marketing strategy before you start actively promoting your business will ensure these strategies are in line with the goals for the business, will effectively ‘speak’ to your target markets, and are realistic in terms of delivering leads that you can turn into sales.
The ability to think strategically about your business is very different to planning tactical activities. Your marketing strategy is the overall guide to what you are trying to achieve. These are essentially your goals. Your marketing plan then becomes the more detailed translation of the exact tasks you are going to undertake in order to deliver your business goals.
Developing a marketing strategy and following a set marketing activity plan for the time ahead is key to a successful business year. These act as a map for us to follow and is an effective blueprint for the year ahead.
WHERE DO YOU START WHEN BUILDING YOUR 2016 MARKETING PLAN?
Review, Reflect and Reveal
Learning from the past is a key tool in business planning for the future. A thorough review needs time for reflection, complete honesty and an open mind. It is not a time for criticism or regrets. It is a time for learning and planning. Look at all aspects of your business from the point of view of your staff and your customers and go through the finer details of your customer service to ask yourself:
• What went well? Why?
• What didn’t go so well? Why?
• What do you want to change? Why?
Aligning Marketing with Business Goals for 2016
All businesses have goals, whether they are financial, quality related or customer focused. Such goals can include growing new customers in a particular region, or increasing retention rates and brand loyalty. Unfortunately when some businesses plan their marketing strategies, they do it in isolation. By focusing on the tactics, and often the budget, instead of how the marketing strategy can support and help achieve the business goals, businesses are creating a marketing vacuum.
So where do you start? To begin writing your marketing strategy, each business goal should be broken down to understand how the goal can be achieved. A solid marketing strategy will help deliver your business goals. For example, if your business goal is to increase client retention to 75 per cent, marketing activities to help deliver that can include sales training, loyalty programs, pricing strategies or direct and online marketing campaigns that target existing customers and drive to deliver the retention goals of the business.
Each business goal needs to have a marketing strategy to support it, and each of these marketing strategies needs to:
• Clearly define the target audience. For example, in the case of increasing client retention, this would be existing customers.
• Highlight what the touch points are with those customers and how can we increase them to grow loyalty and retention in this case.
• Define what the unique selling proposition is for those customers buying from you and how can you better communicate this.
• Include pricing strategy to reward loyalty. For example, think No Claim Bonus strategies.
• Include measurable results.
• Include specific promotional tactical elements.
Marketing strategies developed in isolation from their overarching business goals are simply marketing tactics that you hope will work. Building a marketing strategy that addresses each of the business goals will more clearly define your marketing program and more likely lead to success.
Digital for Success in 2016
Digital marketing strategies are often very daunting to everyone except those in the industry. But if you haven’t already embraced digital media as a viable marketing channel for your business, you have already fallen far behind the competition. Digital marketing is not just a major factor for success in 2016, it’s a necessity.
So how can we harness digital marketing strategies to achieve our business goals? Again, spend a conscientious effort on devising those business goals and then break them into achievable tasks. Applying a digital stratagem will be much easier if you are clear about your intentions and direction.
Local Area Marketing is imperative for local franchisee success
While your franchise itself is typically a national business, the franchisee is locally based. They serve local customers and provide services to the local community. It stands to reason that localised marketing strategy is essential to your fundamental goals as it targets your core business. By getting your local marketing right, you are well on your way to achieving successful outcomes.
Targeting your local area sales potential can be greatly enhanced by the contemporary way in which we now seek out products and services. The personalised way customers now search for businesses has made it even more imperative for franchisees to advertise specifically to their local area, especially when it comes to an online presence.
Luckily, this is an area where there are no tricks – simply basics to get right. By taking the simple steps to ensure that your Google My Business and Bing Places for Business listings are correctly created and optimised, you have established yourself a powerful online presence. Keeping your information consistent across your digital presence is also vital to ensuring high visibility in local area searches.
The Map Pack available through the key platforms will target your greatest local exposure. With more than eighty-five different ways to appear in a search, you must be optimising your search-ability for every possible term and option. By nailing these key, simple digital steps you can significantly increase your local profile as well as your online presence.
Embrace the Power of Social Media
While the franchise industry’s success has been defined by uniformity and consistency, the advent of social media tools is extensively shaking up these notions within the industry. Social media can be a powerful marketing tool when used successfully to find new customers and connect with existing customers in a personal way. Franchises and franchisees are smart to take advantage of social media as it is an incredibly inexpensive way to brand and market every business’ services to target markets within their own, personal domain.
The key to using social media as a franchisee is understanding how building a community and increasing your online visibility will help with your bottom line. And it achieves these outcomes by doing just that, increasing your visibility and therefore likelihood of influencing a sale. Social media does not ultimately create sales directly as in a one-on-one conversation, but can strongly influence and educate your target markets about you and your offerings.
The key to social media success is to not get hung up on the tools and technology but to focus on how you can use them more effectively to:
• Increase the visibility of your brand and that of your franchisee business;
• Build and cultivate your professional networks;
• Develop and grow relationships with customers and influencers;
• Engage in real-time, two-way interaction with people, including answering queries;
• Publish and distribute original content that demonstrates your expertise;
• Share curated links to relevant information that adds value to the lives of your customers;
• Communicate directly with your community of followers, advocates and supporters; and
• Ultimately generate new leads and boost sales for your business.
If you are looking to social media to boost your business, understand that for most businesses, social media is an influence to a sale, just one place a potential customer will go to find out about your business.
Social media is an important business communication tool because it is a way to communicate and engage with loyal customers and to grow your customer base. Marketing can be highly complicated and its inefficient or misinformed use can be unnecessarily expensive without the rewards.
Solid and successful marketing strategies thoroughly understand your essential business goals, and work towards these at all times. And these need not be the height of sophisticated marketing theory. It is more important to comprehensively pin down the basics before acting on grander scales.
Your successful 2016 relies heavily on the business goals and marketing strategies you carefully consider now, so take the time to really concentrate on these as you begin this new year.
Joe Papadatos is Managing Director of Icon Visual Marketing, a full service marketing agency that for over twelve years has been equipping businesses with the marketing and sales tools to help them reach their next customer.
Icon Visual Marketing are highly experienced at strategically planning and building robust marketing hubs that help franchisors deliver the right marketing tools and resources to their franchisees grow.
For more information contact Joe on:
T: 1300 138 984