Well, the new year is approaching and you’re probably already thinking of ways you can optimize your business for 2022 and beyond. Much of optimizing your business comes down to not neglecting marketing. Double negatives, I know. But if there are business sins, then maybe there are some commandments as well. Let’s reinforce the positive.
*No actual clients are shamed or targeted in this article. All data in my brain comes from years of marketing consulting, teaching, and managing client accounts.
Without Further Ado, Bridget’s Ten Commandments of Marketing
- You shall have a business plan.
- You shall choose a niche.
- You shall have marketing goals.
- You shall not compare your goals to a competitor.
- You shall stay focused.
- You shall have a website.
- You shall send email marketing campaigns.
- You shall choose at least one social media platform.
- You shall provide context for metrics.
- You shall trust your marketing team.
Marketing Commandment 1 – You shall have a business plan.
Having a business plan isn’t a “nice-to-have,” as Warren Laine-Naida would put it. It’s a must-have. Your business plan doesn’t have to be in a gold-embellished, leather binder. But it needs to exist. The plan will be used as your decision-making guide.
Should you start a TikTok account?
Answer: how does it support your business plan?
Should you hire another developer?
Answer: how does it support your business plan?
Do you need a business plan as a solopreneur?
As solopreneurs, we probably should have a formal business plan. It depends upon how focused you are and how much you remember. Another consideration is how you want your business to live on should something happen to you. The business plan allows another person to keep your business going.
Honestly, at the time of the writing, I don’t have a formal business plan. With that said, the SBA has several templates available as Word Docs (which I just uploaded to my Google Drive) so we can all get our paperwork-act together.
“A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business. You’ll use your business plan as a roadmap for how to structure, run, and grow your new business. It’s a way to think through the key elements of your business.” SBA.gov
Marketing Commandment 2 – You shall choose a niche.
If everyone is your customer, no one is your customer. It’s not good enough to want “more sales,” or “more clients,” or “more money.” If you don’t have a niche or a specialization, your marketing will be unfocused – at best. It’ll be way too easy to run after any opportunity instead of the right one for you.
I was just talking to a friend about my hair stylist’s Instagram Account: Hair By Frank. He’s fantastic, local, gives great cuts, styles, and – of course, color. You won’t see photos of my hair anytime soon on his account, though. Why? Because though he takes clients like me who need to color their gray hair, he specializes in balayage.
Market for the customer you want; not the ones you may have.
In my case, I have a client who is a real estate professional. The messaging on my website isn’t necessarily directed toward that client. It doesn’t mean that I don’t take the client – we can all make our own decisions. It means we write the copy on our website, blogs, and social profiles, to attract the industry we want. All tech? Maybe just FinTech. All small businesses? Maybe just WordPress Plugins.
“By aligning your products or services perfectly with a small group of current and potential customers, you encourage word of mouth and positive reviews which can carry your business into a larger, potentially more profitable market.” HubSpot
Marketing Commandment 3 – You shall have marketing goals.
Marketing goals are so important. Why are you posting on Twitter? What do you want out of that TikTok video? If you don’t have a goal, you won’t know the best way to achieve it. Duh, Bridget.
Seriously, though. It’s easy to listen to experts who say you should focus on a certain age group (that’s not a persona) and, therefore, [insert trending platform here]. Your marketing goals should be tied to your business goals.
That marketing flywheel is more efficient in the long run than your funnels. Attract. Engage. Delight. When done right, the marketing flywheel becomes self-perpetuating. Wonderful. You still need marketing goals. I prefer to have quarterly goals. Most marketing efforts need at least three months to start showing a lift.
- Q1 Business Goal 2022: Increase signups by 40%.
- Q1 2022 Marketing Goal: Increase Twitter Profile Visits by 10%
- Supporting Tactic: Increase Tweets to 3x a day from 1x a day.
Marketing Commandment 4 – You shall not compare your goals to a competitor.
This is the biggest sin in all of business marketing. You have no idea what their business goals are. You don’t know their marketing budget. You don’t understand their office politics. It’s possible that the CEO isn’t taking the CMO’s advice. It’s possible that the company is throwing money at growth marketing to please their VC firms.
One of the biggest marketing sins is presuming that your competitor is a) your competitor, b) is on equal footing as you, and c) is profitable.
Many businesses purposely run low-profit margins to avoid tax liability.
Compare your marketing efforts to a) your marketing goals which should support b) your business goals.
Marketing Commandment 5 – You shall stay focused.
Lemmings – all following one another jumping off the TikTok cliff. I’m not against TikTok by any means. If you have the time to produce videos, go live, and engage with your audience do it – if it supports your business goals.
I know for a fact that small business owners can get away with spending 10 minutes a day on Twitter. Can you produce a video in ten minutes and upload it to TikTok? No? How much time? How often do you have to post? Can you hire an intern? How will you compare success? Did you optimize your TikTok bio so that your profile link goes to your website or store?
It’s okay to have a few marketing goals. It’s fun to experiment. But getting sidetracked instead of sticking with your marketing goals is where I see business owners die on the road of the distracted squirrel, chasing the newest shiny object. Marketing isn’t ideas. Marketing is consistent, focused work, over time.
Marketing Commandment 6 – You shall have a website.
A website is a valuable piece of marketing collateral. You want it to be clean, easy-to-read – especially on mobile devices, and easy to navigate. Facebook is not a website. Instagram is not a website. You need to own your website and keep it up-to-date.
From WordPress.com to WIX to Squarespace, your business has options. My own website is built in WordPress, hosted on SiteDistrict, and uses Beaver Builder’s* theme, which Rhonda Negard used for a child theme. It’s achievable.
You need a home page, about page, and contact page. Bonus points for blogging once a month. If you need some free blogging prompts, consider downloading and installing the free Starter Pack for Launch With Words. I talk more about what you need for your website build in this blog post.
*Affiliate link. If you buy Beaver Builder, I get a small fee. Thanks.
Marketing Commandment 7 – You shall send email marketing campaigns.
Email marketing campaigns are so important. I know. Everything is important. But these people on your segmented lists actually want to hear from you. Every day I get an email from Jason Resnick. It’s almost reassuring. It’s true that I sometimes delete the emails without reading them. But 9/10 I read the email. Why? Because it speaks to my needs as a business owner. Because I know he’s not full of crap. Because I trust him as a business owner.
I struggle to send email marketing campaigns regularly. That has more to do with my internal doubt than the value I provide. So, do it anyway.
Claim all of your profiles. Seriously. I’m looking at you San Antonio, TX. Get that Twitter account. I know many businesses in Alamo City are resistant to Twitter. Don’t be. (Also, I have a free course.) But I digress.
Go claim all of your accounts: LinkedIn Company Page, Facebook Company Page, Instagram, Twitter, Google’s Business Profile, TikTok, Snapchat, and even Reddit if you must. Sidenote: Reddit is great for Cannabiz.
With that said, Marketing Commandment number 8 is to choose at least one social media platform and be active. If you want to add platforms, then add one per quarter. It takes time to find your voice and, as the small business owner, you have to put the time in yourself if you don’t have the budget to go full bore with a vendor or employee.
Marketing Commandment 9 – You shall provide context for metrics.
Metrics by themselves are misleading at best. Metrics are a snapshot of a period of time – in the past. They only give clues to your marketing behavior in the past. If you schedule your tweets to be sent every day at 9:00 AM, the best time to send a tweet will be daily at 9:00 AM. If you only use Yelp as a digital marketing platform, then your best source of leads will be Yelp.
This sounds so obvious and, perhaps, a bit demeaning, but I don’t mean it to sound this way. This dependency on Google Analytics as an oracle from God is amazing to me.
A past client didn’t think the website was working because people called her.
The question we asked was this:
“How did they find your phone number.”
All data needs context. All metrics need a story. And none of them work independently of one another. Email Marketing helps Twitter engagement. LinkedIn helps website views. Billboards help Facebook Ads work.
Marketing Commandment 10 – You shall trust your marketing team.
Once you settle on an expert that you partner with or hire, it’s vital that you trust them. Clear communication, setting expectations, and benchmarking goals are important factors in a successful relationship with your marketing professional.
Going from consultant to consulting and rapidly switching tactics and strategy as fast as Tina Turner changes costumes at a concert (dating myself big time) is going to steal your momentum, confuse your audience, and deplete your marketing budget.
What’s the Call to Action, Bridget?
The call to action is to act. Start the business plan. Map out your quarterly goals. Keep a journal of your thoughts and record your results. Email me. I’m happy to hear your thoughts.