By Ray Silverstein
What kind of marketing activities do you do for your business? Do you have a marketing plan? How about a marketing budget?
Do you use marketing strategies to focus and support your sales efforts, or do you engage in spontaneous, one-time marketing activities when an idea appeals to you?
For many entrepreneurs, it’s the latter. Unfortunately, isolated, spur-of-the-moment activities aren’t likely to move you toward your sales goals.
It takes thoughtful, strategic marketing—not haphazard bursts of activity—to set the stage for increased sales. How do you sharpen your marketing focus?
Use a Comprehensive “STP” Marketing Approach
According to STP theory, strategic marketing is a three-step process:
S – Segmenting
T – Targeting
P – Positioning
Segmenting – You can’t sell to everyone. When you segment your market, you divide it into groups of prospects based on criteria significant to your business: demographics, geographics, psychographics, economics, distribution, industries, wants, needs, buying habits, etc.
For example, one of my peer group members in Phoenix owns a swimming pool maintenance service. There are many, many pools in Phoenix. So he segmented his market, broadly dividing it in to family-owned backyard pools and larger, community-based swimming pools.
Targeting – After you segment, target: determine which segment is most worth pursuing, and go. My peer group member concluded that community-based swimming pools make the best customers. He then targeted further, focusing in on YMCA pools and country club pools, because in his experience, their operational standards supported the most intensive maintenance programs.
Positioning – While segmenting and targeting define who you’re going to sell to, positioning focuses on how you’re going to sell them. My peer group member, for example, positioned himself up as the local YMCA pool/country club pool ‘specialist,’ developing proposals and packages just for them.
Positioning includes identifying products, pricing, place, promotions…marketing activities entrepreneurs know well. However, you can’t position your company effectively when you’re trying to reach everyone. By minding your “Ss” and “Ts” as well as your “Ps,” your sales efforts will be more focused and successful.
As I’ve said before: fail to plan, and you plan to fail. Segmenting and targeting are the basic building blocks for well-planned marketing and ultimately sales.
Balance Macro and Micro Marketing
Employing both macro and micro marketing strategies is another way to sharpen your marketing approach.
Macro marketing means working from the market on down. So, once you determine you’re pursuing country club pools, you take steps to—no pun intended!—immerse yourself in this market. Is there an association you can join? A publication to subscribe to? Can you create some marketing materials or a blog just for this audience?
Micro marketing, on the other hand, means working from the bottom on up. Once your macro work is done, you should still pitch each prospect individually for best results. Your targets have things in common, but they’re different, too.
So gather intelligence about each target. Who makes the buying decisions? What are their hot buttons? Who’d they use before, and what were the sticking points? By performing web research and networking, then slowly penetrating an organization, you can better tune your sales pitch to resonate with your prospect.
In summary, it’s a common misconception that ‘marketing’ equals spending money and time on things that don’t generate real results. A smart, strategic marketing plan is your sales department’s best friend. Used together, marketing and sales make a great one-two punch.
Biography: Ray Silverstein is president of PRO, President’s Resource Organization, a network of entrepreneurial peer advisory groups in Phoenix and Chicago. He is author of “The Best Secrets of Great Small Businesses,” and “The Small Business Survival Guide.” You can reach Ray at 1-800-818-0150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.