Marketing Plans ... A Simple
Approach To Get Off The Marketing Roller Coaster
By Kevin Dervin
Are You Riding The Marketing Roller Coaster?
If you're like many of the small business owners or
independent professionals I meet, then running and
marketing your business can be like riding on a roller
coaster. I'm picturing a roller coaster that mostly goes
up and down as opposed to one that flips you upside-down
or sends you around backwards. I guess you might call it
more of an old-fashion roller coaster.
Does this sound like your business at all?
When business is good, we really don't have a lot of
time for marketing. After all, we have to service the
clients we have in hand. If we can just get the ball
rolling then things should pick up because our satisfied
clients will give us referrals.
This might even work for a while. But then when
business slows down, what do you do? Well,
it's time to start marketing! We need to get some more
business in the door, so what should we do? Should we
send out some direct mail, advertise in the newspaper,
get out and network more? Someone once described
it to me as more of a 'desperate searching' than
'marketing' when things get like this.
And for many, that's so true because the marketing
efforts they crank up are totally unplanned and reactive
to the current business slow down. The marketing doesn't
work very well because you're needy and the harder you
try to get, the more you actually push away potential
Then what I hear so often is, "We're not marketing
people. We're [fill in the blank]." You see a lot of
small business owners have a bit of an aversion to
They don't like being rejected.
It takes too much time.
They don't know where to start.
Or, they don't know what to do.
I'm sure some of these statements sound familiar to you.
Over the years I've come across lots and lots of
business owners and independent professionals, and I
hear these sentiments again and again.
Now some business owners are not this way. They're not
afraid to get out there and spread the word on their
business and tell others about themselves.
Unfortunately, they tend to use more of a scatter gun
approach and the results are often the same - up and
So up and down you go - riding the marketing roller
coaster. Never really sure how high the next peak is or
how low and wide the next valley is. And you're
certainly not prepared for the turns or loop-to-loops
along the way. Oh that's right; I said this was an old
fashion roller coaster. No loop-to-loops on this ride.
Anyway, you get the picture.
Well, Are You Ready To Get Off The Marketing Roller
You can start by creating a marketing plan. I ask small
business owners all the time what kinds of things
they're doing from a marketing perspective to grow their
business. I get some of the answers you might expect
such as networking, creating a brochure, sending out a
direct mail postcard, etc.
But then when I ask those same business owners if they
have a marketing plan, they usually fall silent. Let me
try to be clear about this... Without some kind of a
marketing plan you have very little chance of actually
achieving real business growth.
A well thought out marketing plan will help you and your
business stay on track. You'll know where you're going
with your marketing and promotional efforts. Without it,
you're simply leaving things up to chance.
Lack of adequate planning is a huge factor in why so
many small businesses fail. Planning by itself will not
guarantee your success. But, not planning has proven
again and again that you will almost certainly fail.
An effective marketing plan will keep you from riding
the marketing roller coaster. It's a dilemma which is so
common among small businesses. We "market" when things
slow down and we "stop marketing" when things are busy.
Create a Plan to Get Off The Marketing Roller
It should go without saying that marketing plans are
crucial to your small business success. Yet everyday
people don't take the time to stop and actually think
about how much better off they'd be with even a simple
Working on a new brochure or a new flyer does not
constitute planning. Take a few days to a few weeks to
outline your own simple small business marketing plan.
Don't get hung up on making this a complex exercise. I
break the process down into a simple four-phase,
seven-step process that I call 'ABCD Growth Marketing'.
A = Analysis and Preparation.
Clarify your Purpose for being in business and
Focus on your Vision and Goals. If you don't know where
you're headed, how can you expect anyone else to know?
Position your business for marketing success. The
most valuable time you spend working on your business
could be the time you spend on key positioning elements
Defining your niche,
Articulating your uniqueness,
Creating an attention getting message,
Packaging your offerings, and
Compiling your success stories and testimonials.
B = Building Lead Generation.
Create better marketing materials that are
focused on your clients and prospects and what they'll
get from you, not who you are and what you do.
Develop a plan for getting known. You can't do
business with someone if you don't know about them and
they don't know about you.
C = Create Sales Conversion And Reselling Processes.
Convert leads into paying clients. Being able to
consistently generate leads without well thought out
processes for converting them into clients will not
equate to growth of your small business.
Resell to existing clients and leverage
relationships to get more new clients. It requires a
certain amount of focus to ensure you're providing all
the value you have to offer and to begin generating
referrals. Many small businesses ignore this completely.
D = Deploy And Improve.
Deploy your plan and systems and begin continuous
improvement activities. If you're not continuously
monitoring what's working and what's not, how can you
find opportunities to improve the results from your ABCD
Don't Get Overwhelmed By Planning.
Most small business owners seem to get overwhelmed when
they start thinking about marketing. But if you just
start with a simple outline like this and commit to
spending some time filling in the spaces each week,
you'll realize it's very possible.
If you want to get off the marketing roller coaster,
schedule regular time to work on your marketing every
week. That's right, grab your calendar and book time
each week. With regular and consistent effort, you'll
begin to smooth out all the ups and downs in your
About the Author: Kevin Dervin is the owner of KPD
Marketing and creator of the
ABCD Growth System,
Kevin’s FREE monthly eZine called ABCD Grow.