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August 20, 2013

If your summer is slow, focus on marketing & sales for a competitive advantage; part 10 – Start planning for 2014

2014 beachThis series has been all about spending time this summer (when things are often a little slower) focusing and working on those things related to marketing & sales.  I hope you’ve taken the opportunity to do that… before you start getting busy again and don’t have the time to work on it.

Did you work on your LinkedIn profileClean up your in-house databaseCreate a list of new sales prospects?  Or spend a little time thinking about how to differentiate your firm?

And now, with the summer winding down, I’d like you stop thinking in the present and start pondering the future, that is…

Summer tip #10: Start planning for 2014

Creating a marketing & sales plan can be a pretty daunting task, especially if marketing & sales are not your thing.  If that describes you, here are the 5 basic steps to consider as you look ahead to next year:

Step 1. Do your homework – you can’t make any decisions about where you want to go until you understand where you’ve been.  Follow the 3 Cs… your Company, your Clients and your Competition.  Make sure you really understand what’s going on in and around your firm.

Step 2. Take some time to think strategically.  Think about who you sell to, what you sell, how to differentiate your firm and what messaging you’ll use in the marketplace.

Step 3. Then, think tactically.  If strategies are ‘what’ you’re going to do… tactics are the ‘how.’  Think about how you will build awareness among your target market, how you will generate and nurture leads, how you will get nurtured leads to become a first-time client and how your first-timers become repeat clients.

Step 4. Make sure you’ve got the right structure in place for marketing & sales in 2014 – who on your team will respond to inquiries, who will do the day-to-day work (like sending emails), who will do your writing (for blog posts, social media and such), who will be making sales calls, who will manage ‘key accounts’ and who will ride shotgun over the whole program?

Step 5. You need to learn and get better as you move forward… and that’s all about ‘measurement.’  How are you tracking all of your various marketing tactics?  What about sales activities and a sales pipeline?  Are you ‘testing’ initiatives when possible?  Are you reporting, discussing and making adjustments as the data comes in?

As you work on your marketing & sales plan, keep this phrase in mind: Think – Plan – Act.

Most firms only Act… they do things without the preparation necessary for them to be successful and then complain that the outcome was disappointing.

A modest percentage of firms take the time to Plan… but often at only a surface level.  When planning, you need to dig deep into the details – that’s where the difference is made.

And only a very few actually take the time to Think through their marketing & sales initiatives first… and it’s that ‘critical thinking’ that gives them their competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Make sure you take the time to do all three!

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