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JumpStart Your Marketing Checklist

By: Katrina Sawa

Ecommerce One thing I've found in my many years of entrepreneurship is that smart marketing is the key to success. I've worked with so many different types of small business owners, entrepreneurs, coaches and consultants from all kinds of industries and no matter what the business is; I've found that if the person doesn't know how to market it and they don't get help to do so, the business just doesn't survive. The following 8 items are what I consider a good small business start up checklist; if you are in business or thinking about getting into business you will want to make sure you have or are working on all of these things constantly. The mix of all of these necessary items works well to maximize your exposure, credibility, expert status as well as build your database and help you make informed marketing decisions.

1. Realistically Defined Target MarketMost small business owners actually have way too large of a target market to be realistic in order to market to them all with the limited time and budget available. More than likely you might want to narrow down your market or define your niche even more with specific demographics and psychographics; then you'll really begin to see unique opportunities that might become available to reach that market. And don't forget about all your referral sources - they are your target market too!

2. Marketing PlanThis plan should outline everything you could possibly do in your marketing based on who your target market (ideal client) is and the best ways to reach them including various guerilla marketing techniques, promotions, ideas and co-promotions. Then you need to stick to your well-researched plan and not get sold or steered away by random advertising opportunities. This should also include a Publicity Plan - Including pertinent media contacts, press releases, article submissions and event listings for ongoing exposure - If you're not submitting press releases regularly to the local media, local organizations you belong to, etc. you are missing FREE opportunities to get additional exposure for your business.

Your Marketing Plan should also include an Advertising Plan - Including Timeline & Budget - More than likely you're not spending enough money on advertising, period end of story. If it's done in the right places, places that reach your target market, with a good message or headline and for a reasonable length of time you should see good results. If you only try it once or go too small or have no idea to effectively design your ad - you will not get results. Learn about all the advertising mediums in your target area, who they reach, their demographics, what kind of circulation they have based on their cost, etc.

Your Marketing Plan should also include an active Networking Plan - Including any pertinent organizations, associations, chambers or other professional group that brings in referrals or is a good venue for prospecting or business development - Pick 2-5 organizations you believe are the best to either promote your business or build your business in, join them and then become as active as you possibly can so you become the well known expert in your field. Volunteer your time generously and most of all put their events on your calendar before ANY other client meeting or job BECAUSE ...these are your advertising dollars NOT being spent!

3. DatabaseInputted/Formatted in the computer with all Clients, Prospective Clients, Referral Sources & Contacts. You need one place where everyone you have ever known or done business with is housed in the computer so it's easily mail merged for one - sort them if you can by hot, warm or cold prospect or referral source. Then you should regularly stay in touch with your database through effective Database Marketing and Follow Up in order for you to be On the Top of Their Minds when the topic of your service/product comes up.

This can include letter and email templates, a system for following up to Hot, Warm and Cold prospects and ongoing database marketing - If you are not doing quick follow up after you meet someone/anyone then you are missing opportunities and they will forget about you. You want to follow up with everyone you meet within 48 hours and then continuously, you need to make this automatic, systematic and practical so it will get done - delegate it if you have to.

4. Website Including Domain Name (s), Hosting, Reciprocal Links, and Internet SubmissionYou are missing out on sales if you do NOT have a website - but a professional website is a must, not a home-made, amateur site; that will hurt you and your credibility. It doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg, but the goal should be to inform, entice and capture - capturing the contact info from everyone who visits your site should be your most important goal - because then you can continue marketing to them either by mail or email and the more likely they will use you or refer you. The content on your site needs to also be compelling, attention getting and filled with keywords to attract the search engines. Hiring a good web designer or developer is very important and very hard to do because many have talent but some do not and say they do. You really want a web designer that also has some sales and marketing experience although in my experience, that is the hardest thing to find.

5. Email Marketing Distribution Lists, Program for Email Marketing, Newsletters, PromotionsEmail marketing is the cheapest form of marketing anyone can do these days but there are spam laws to follow and email etiquette you should strive to follow so you look as professional as you can. See www.spamlaws.com for more tips on what to look out for in your email marketing.

There are online email programs you can use to really make your emails POP but remember to send people info that they want to read, not just what you want them to read. When you consult with me, we evaluate the best format and program to use for your email marketing campaigns as well as figure out how often you should send them, what to say in them and how to make more money with them.

6. Professional Marketing MaterialsBusiness Cards, Letterhead, Envelopes, Brochure, Sales Packet, Flyer, and Postcard. Whatever is necessary to reach your target market - they need to be professionally designed, printed and presented! Don't try to design your own marketing materials unless you are a qualified graphic artist, trust me, they will not reflect the image you want to project. It's not just important for them to look good but they also need to have an attention getting headline, message and clear call to action. Hiring a good graphic designer is tough; many designers are not what they say they are. Ask me for a referral or have me help you - with my sales and marketing expertise and one of my talented graphic designers we can create outstanding marketing materials that will make you stand OUT from your competition.

7. BrandingIncludes Signage like Nametags, Shirts with Logo, Vehicle Signs, Banner, Promotional Products and Giveaways. The more your name is in front of people's faces the better. You want people to recognize your brand on everything you do and everywhere you go. Find a good promotional products company from your local chamber of commerce or ask me for a referral.

8. Good, Reliable VendorsIncludes industry vendors as well as those for your business development like printers, mailing houses, delivery services, rental companies, assistants - you'd be surprised to know you're probably spending too much money in one or more of these areas right now. Find reliable, inexpensive sources, if you need referrals to companies I recommend, just ask me! If you are thinking there is absolutely no way you can get all this done yourself or you just don't know how to do something on this list then I would suggest you find an expert in that field to help you. Delegate that task to someone who knows best how to accomplish it and can do it much more efficiently than you.

The cost of outsourcing such tasks far outweighs your valuable time spent trying to figure it out yourself and who knows if you'll figure it out to the best for your business? Your marketing is the most important thing you will ever do in running your business. If you don't believe that, then save this article somewhere safe and when you go out of business in 2-5 years, find it and read it again.

© Copyright 2008 K.Sawa Marketing. Katrina Sawa is an Award-Winning Relationship Marketing Coach who's helped hundreds of small business owners take dramatic steps in their businesses to get them to the next level in business, revenues and life. She offers one-on-one coaching, group coaching and do-it-yourself marketing planning products. Go online now to get started with her Free Report and Free Audio at http://www.jumpstartyourmarketing.com !
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