You Need a Marketing Plan
by Wendy Priesnitz

Q: I recently placed a relatively large ad for my business-to-business service company in a trade magazine. I thought it was the perfect spot for the ad, and had a professional design it. However, I got very little response. What am I doing wrong? As a micro-business owner, I only have a limited advertising budget and am getting discouraged.

A: Your small business hasn't done enough marketing to justify getting discouraged yet! Notice I said marketing and not advertising. And that is due to what is often called The Rule of Seven: prospects must receive your message at least seven times before they respond.

What this means is that more than one simple advertisement is required to motivate prospective clients to contact your small business. If your prospects were prisoners in a completely empty room with no distractions and nothing to read but your ad, they might respond. However, the reality is that they are busy people who are being bombarded by so many seductive marketing messages they may simply have tuned them all out.

That is why you should think in terms of more than just advertising. A mix of communication methods is usually more effective. A single advertisement (or any other marketing communication for that matter - no matter how professionally produced, well-placed and client-centered) will not make and keep the phone ringing.

You need a marketing plan that allows you to deliver your message through a sustained campaign that tells prospective customers about the benefits of your service in a variety of ways.

Your plan could be centered on a series of small ads in the trade magazine (rather than one large one). It could also include taking a booth at a trade show, participating in relevant Internet chat groups or listservs, appearing on a radio talk show, writing an article for publication in the same trade magazine or the business section of a daily newspaper, and making a presentation to a civic organization or business association whose members fit your target market.

In addition, you should consider direct response marketing by telephone, mail or electronic means such as fax or email.

Whatever mix of methods your marketing plan involves, try to create a campaign that is energetic and client-focused, with the emphasis on the benefits your service provides. You should also strive for a level of consistency in both style and message that will make your future customers notice your business among the marketing clutter that surrounds them on a daily basis.


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