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All About the Plan

Why you must focus on your marketing strategy before tactics.

As a custom integrator, you’ve most likely got systems in your business for things such as operations, project management, and system design. Why? Because systems save you time, energy, and money. They make something that might be complex more efficient, easier, and repeatable.

Do you have a system for marketing your business? If your business is like most, the answer is no. In fact, most custom integrators don’t really market their business at all. Instead, they are at the mercy of referrals and word of mouth to bring customers to their doorstep.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying referrals are a bad thing. In fact, referrals and word-of-mouth marketing are a critical component to any marketing plan. It’s hard to beat warm leads coming to your business from referrals.

However, there are two problems with relying too heavily on referrals for business growth.

  1. Some referrals may not be ideal clients for your business, but you feel obligated to help them because they were referred to you.
  2. Referrals are not a scalable or consistent source of new business.

Relying on referrals to grow your business is like riding a unicycle. If that one tire loses air or goes flat, you are in real trouble!

What if your lead generation was more like a four-wheeler? You’ve still got leads coming from referrals/word of mouth, but you may also have leads coming from other sources such as paid online advertising, search engine optimization, and content marketing.

Now, if one of your tires loses air (i.e., is not generating as many leads), you still have three others to get you where you need to go. Your business growth is in a much more stable and consistent position, wouldn’t you agree?

But before you start jumping into any marketing tactics, you must have an effective marketing strategy in place first. The mistake most businesses make with their marketing is they jump into all the tactics before they really outline their strategy. This can lead to several problems.

  1. You end up marketing to the wrong audience.
  2. Your messaging and advertising don’t connect with your target market.
  3. Your marketing yields very little results or none at all.

Creating your marketing strategy first will eliminate these problems and ensure you start with a solid foundation that you can build upon.

You marketing strategy is the action plan you put in place to accomplish your specific objectives. Tactics, on the other hand, are the steps you will actually take to reach your objectives. Strategy and tactics must go hand in hand, but your strategy must come first.

How do you create a marketing strategy? Complete these 3 steps.

  1. Identify your ideal client: Some clients are better than others and you need to drill down on which clients are the most profitable and easiest to work with. Call a handful of ideal clients you’ve worked with in the past to learn more about why they chose you, what they liked about doing business with you, and the problem you solved for them. Then, armed with this information, you can start to create ideal client profiles that might include demographics, the problems they have, needs, and wants.
  2. Outline the vision for your company: Your vision is all about where you are now, where you want to go, and why you are going there. Consider these questions when you are working on your company vision.
    • Where is your company right now?
    • Where is your company going?
    • Why are you going there?
    • What values will guide you?
    • How are you going to get there?
    • Who needs to do what?
    • What will you measure?
  3. Identify your core message: Your core message is what makes your company different from all the rest. It’s the message that will speak to your ideal clients and make your company the obvious choice.

Remember all the questions you asked your ideal clients from step 1? Their answers will lead you to what your core message should be.

Armed with your marketing strategy, you now have a very clear target market, you know exactly what you want to accomplish, and you know the messaging you will use to reach your target market.

Now you’re ready to choose the most appropriate tactics to promote your company and ensure those tactics are targeting the correct people.