By Barbara Best
“Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart.” – Joe Chernov
Marketing and the Exempt Market Professional
Is marketing an essential part of your business plan? It should be. A good marketing plan, well executed, can be your biggest ally. It’s easier said than done, but with the right tools, resources and support, your business will reap the benefits of a strong, effective marketing plan. A well-executed plan helps attract new business, keeps you and your company top of mind among your clients and prospects, and promotes awareness of your new services or products.
Let’s start by clarifying what marketing can and cannot do for your business:
· Deliver your message, promise and commitment
· Get the attention of your audience
· Tell your audience who you are, where you are and how to reach you
· Deliver good service for your business
· Maintain your ethical standards
· Provide low prices for your products or services
· Ensure good value for your products or services
· Improve the reputation of your business
In other words – as much as marketing can be your greatest ally, it can also be your worst enemy if your business can’t live up to the message you put out there. Make sure your marketing efforts don’t exceed your business capabilities.
What makes a good marketing strategy?
Start with your business plan, which (hopefully) already identifies your goals, target audience, positioning, competitive analysis and financial objectives. Ask (and answer) the following questions:
· What are my competitors doing? Where do they advertise, what do their websites look like, how do they engage their audiences? Draft a summary of ‘best practices’ based on this research.
· Why should my target audience be interested in me, my services/products? What do I offer that is special or unique? How can I influence buyer behaviour?
· Where does my target audience go for information about the exempt market industry, related services and providers? What publications do they read, which industry websites do they frequent? What events, trade shows and conferences are most suitable?
· What budget can I afford to allot for marketing on a monthly or annual basis? Consider costs associated with advertising (media buys), engaging a professional designer, writer, translator, photographer, videographer, web developer, printer, etc.
· Does my marketing conform to the regulatory guidelines in my jurisdiction?
Putting your marketing strategy into action
Your strategy needs to get off the ground, so it should consist of several (or many) tactics. These may include:
o How can I enhance my website to be as effective as possible?
· Social media
o Which social media platforms would be most suitable for my message? How can my team and I maintain a consistent frequency of posting, replying and monitoring these outlets?
· Fact sheets and regulatory documents
· Marketing materials
o Infographics are a great way to explain your services, products or processes
o Product or service brochures are an age-old but proven tactic
· Events, trade shows, seminars, panels
o Consider participating in, sponsoring and promoting relevant events
o Newsletters, direct emails, promotional communications
o Whether you send these out directly or through a third party, you must ensure your mailing list and messages are compliant with CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation)
o Print, online, radio, TV, out of home (e.g., billboards, transit shelters, posters, etc.)
· Public relations
o Article writing or editorial contributions
o Media releases (product or service launches, customer wins, milestones or achievements)
o Pitching stories
o Responding to media requests for background information or quotes
If all of this sounds overwhelming, overtaxing, or just not something you have the time or energy to commit your full attention to, consider sourcing your marketing support from a professional marketing firm. The expertise, buying power and added value a good marketing agency can bring to the table is immense.
A professional marketing firm or agency:
· Can help you build a strong strategy and layer in appropriate tactics
· Knows what it takes to create a strong brand around your unique selling proposition
· Can craft a consistent tone and voice for your messages that respects any compliance and legal requirements
· Is fanatical about accuracy of design, layout and copy to your brand guide
· Builds workback schedules in their sleep and is ruthless about time management
· Can write relevant, effective copy that delivers your message
With the right planning, your marketing efforts will support your business growth. And as your business evolves over time, your marketing strategy will become fully integrated with your overall business plan.
Barbara Best, V.P., Client Strategy & Creative, contributes strategic planning, tactical support and creative input, in equal measure, to marketing campaigns and projects at Marcom Central. She brings more than two decades of passion and experience in corporate communications, advertising, event marketing and interactive media to her role as Vice President of Client Strategy & Creative. Marcom Central is a Toronto-based integrated marketing boutique, working in the area of “the complex,” serving clients in knowledge-based industries.