December 22, 2014

Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida business

Turn your big idea strategy into marketing initiatives that work

Ron Stein | 1/4/2013

Welcome to 2013! Have you thought about what goals your business fell sort of, which new markets you should shift your attention to, and decided how to drive more revenue?

Most businesses make it a point to review their business and marketing plans at the beginning of every year. But why wait? Growing your company requires continuous attention to what’s happening in and around your business.

Like a high wire act, walking across a pond of gators and juggling lots of heavy bowling pins, it’s really a balancing act.

Figuring out how to increase your revenue is a year round job. Regularly checking the vital signs of your businesses and adjusting to new market dynamics when it makes sense is a good thing.

Yet, constantly changing strategies and throwing new strategies and tactics against the wall will only cause problems. This usually happens when a business never takes the time to really understand their target customers or when companies find that they are not expanding as fast as they’d like -- or worse, sales are stalling.

So what can you do to ensure that your business is constantly growing and moving forward? Avoid these pitfalls to get your business on the fast path -- and stay there.

Changing marketing strategy too often is risky. Too many business owners come unglued the second something doesn’t seem to be working. Without much thought, they’ll dump their strategy and change direction. If you have the confidence that you know your ideal customer fully and have a solid baseline strategy for attacking the market, then stay the course. But, that doesn’t say you shouldn’t regularly review where you are. More than likely you’ll find that you just need to fine-tune tactics and execution, not make wholesale strategy changes. It takes tremendous self-control to keep your strategy focus on track. Don’t join the strategy of the month club -- it isn’t good business!

Marketing initiatives check ups. A marketing initiative is a “mini-strategy” based on your business goals and overall strategy. It’s the bridge between your “Big Idea Strategy” and the tactics needed to transform that into action. However, the gap between strategy and execution can be huge and marketing initiatives help to break that into bite size chunks. For instance, let’s say your big strategy is go after the healthcare market. That’s fairly broad. So, consider two or three (never more) marketing initiatives to get you there. You might look at having an outside sales effort to provide your service directly to hospitals; or perhaps licensing your platform for hospitals to be their own internal service provider; or selling your service through strategic partners; or possibly use only an inside sales effort coupled with a social media and direct mail campaign to market your service. Only a couple of these initiatives probably make sense. Once you decide, pinpoint the tactics you’ll need to execute. During your regular reviews, look at what’s working and if necessary do some tweaking of marketing initiatives and associated tactics.

Tactical awareness. New marketing tools are springing up almost daily -- social networking services, inventive ways to reach target audiences, mobile platforms, and creative content delivery models to name a few. It’s easy to get distracted by all of this and start trying new tactics and tools haphazardly. Yet, when it comes to search engine optimization, media platforms, and networking tools you’ve got to be on top of changes that may affect your results. Don’t accept that something will work as well for you tomorrow just because it does the trick today. It’s a bit a minefield though and it can help or hurt you. Growing your business to the next level requires high performance marketing. Translation: keep a keen sense of tactical awareness, but don’t jump at every new marketing tool you read about -- change only if it fits -- at the end of the day it’s the execution that counts. That’s why regularly scheduled strategic reviews are critical.

A poor marketing strategy is one of the leading reasons why most businesses fail. The other reason companies fail is their inability to execute a strategy when they have one.

If revenue isn’t flowing the way you’d like, don’t panic by quickly switching to a new grand strategy or set of marketing initiatives. Instead, try refining what you have and focus on tactics and execution.


Read earlier columns from Florida Trend's business coach, Ron Stein
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Ron Stein is the founder and President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com). He has more than 20 years experience in sales, marketing, and business development, working positions ranging from salesman to vice president of sales and marketing to CEO of startups with industry leaders such as Motorola, VideoServer, Paradyne, and SercoNet. Ron is a member of the advisory team at the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, a nationally recognized entrepreneurial and startup accelerator for the state of Florida. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com

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