Sales – critical to business’ success. Marketing – critical to sales.
Sales and marketing and intertwined. One without the other would be like a car without an engine, or an engine without fuel. Whether an individual or a company, if you want to drive sales, you’re going to need marketing.
For many, especially small businesses or independent sales professionals, marketing can be overwhelming. But it’s not. With all of the online resources available today, anyone can set a foundation for effectively marketing their business or service offerings.
There are really three (3) key steps that any business needs to take to build a successful marketing engine: the Plan, a Website and E-Marketing.
Remember, don’t get overwhelmed. This plan should be simple and serve as your roadmap. Be practical and don’t build a plan that is not strategically attainable. Remain focused and ensure that the plan supports your overarching business goals.
As I mentioned earlier, there are a myriad of online resources that will help you actually ‘write’ the plan. Following are a few great resources and reference articles.
Another great resource that our marketing team relies on regularly is MarketingProfs.com. Much of the content is restricted to members, but the plans are affordable and there are a ton of valuable resources and educational sessions available.
An online presence is a must-have for any business or independent sales professional. Historically, websites required significant financial resources, but today there are a myriad of free and low-cost web development and hosting resources to get you up and running with a professional looking, functional site in just days or even hours. And, these sites allow you to customize your content, add pages and even build in widgets or social media extensions easily and quickly. If you can use Microsoft Word, you can build a website.
Following are just a few online resources that you should check-out, selecting the one that best meets your business objectives and supports your overall marketing plan.
Regardless of which program you choose for your website, you will definitely want to take advantage of Google Analytics, a free service that provides you with valuable insights on your website traffic including which pages visitors visit most, and how much time each visitor is spending on your site.
Email marketing is likely another tool you will need to execute your marketing plan. There are a wide array of online tools available to support any e-marketing plan, from small and free to integrated, full-featured marketing automation platforms.
For SMBs, there are a few companies that cater to your specific needs and requirements including:
- MailChimp – free and paid versions; low cost, template offerings, easy to use
- Constant Contact – low cost options, lots of templates and customization capability, easy to use, and ancillary value adds including surveys, event management, and offers
- iContact – affordable options, simple templates and drag and drop email creation tools and contact management
- Vertical Response – affordable pricing options, full suite of email marketing, social media marketing and event marketing tools that are easy to use
If you are looking for a more robust option, perhaps one that integrates directly with your contact management system (CMS) or one that features marketing automation or dynamic content deliver, you may want to investigate ExactTarget (owned be SalesForce.com), Eloqua (an Oracle company), or Marketo.
Marketing is more than just a task. It’s a journey with many different paths to the same end. From advertising to events to public relations and communications, there are many facets of marketing. The key as you start out is to build a strong foundation and then expand those efforts over time.