"It's March already! Where is the year going?" If this is your sentiment, and you are nowhere near accomplishing sales goals, here is a step-by-step plan to get you caught up.
1. Pull out last quarter's (October, November and December 2003) sales reports: Looking at your numbers from last quarter will allow you to make some projections for the current quarter.
As you can see, time passes rapidly, if you don't stop and create a sales plan, you will constantly be wondering where your time went. As a small business owner, you are probably so accustomed to putting out daily fires, that you can't get around to planning for the future.
This is deadly to the growth of your small business. You absolutely, positively must have a growth plan for your business, or you will always be wondering why you're not growing.
2. Write out at least a quarterly marketing schedule: What will you do today, next week, next month to increase sales. Will you send out postcards, write monthly press releases, create weekly e-mail campaigns.
If you write this down, you have a much better chance of sticking to it. This will also allow you to map out major holidays and relevant events that are pertinent to your customers.
For example, for my online business, EthnicHomeDecor.com, February is Black History Month, June 19th is Juneteenth (aka African American Emancipation Day); December 26th begins Kwanzaa. All of these are already mapped out on my marketing schedule. In this way, I can prepare my ad campaigns weeks or months in advance.
3. Put your schedule within your everyday view: If you devise a schedule, yet fail to look at it on a daily (or at least, weekly) basis, then you are much less likely to use it. Put it where you can see it. On those days where you have a marketing duty scheduled, do that first.
If you are lucky enough to find some free time before a scheduled duty, work on your marketing campaign. The beauty of this is that it allows you to get in the habit of thinking "marketing first."
4. Track your marketing results: Devise a method to figure out where the bulk of your customers come from. Is it a direct mail campaign, e-mail contact, affiliate links? Whatever it is, find out. This will allow you to increase your marketing in that area.
For example, if you use direct mail, put a code on the back of each mailer. Offer a discount to those who use this code when they place an order. This simple tracking method can be used in whatever form you accept orders (via phone, a web site, in-person, etc.)
Good marketing campaigns usually consist of more than one type of marketing. If you're working within a limited budget, try combing one free method (eg, free article distribution, press releases) with a low-cost method (eg, postcard mailing). The key is to advertise on a consistent basis.
Many small business owners market only when they have the money to, for example, place a newspaper ad or create a brochure. But, there are free methods that can be utilized all the time.
Consider this: Robert W. McChesney, a professor of communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, cites studies showing that Americans are exposed to as many as 2,000 commercial messages a day. How will yours get through?
Given the ever-crowded ad market, hit and miss advertising (ie, advertising only when you can afford it) will not work. Remember, consistency is the name of the game. And, the only way to build consistent sales is to market all the time.
by Yuwanda Black
Yuwanda Black is an Author/Instructor/Speaker,
and small business expert who advises others on how to achieve the
dream of working for themselves. She has written and published
numerous small business articles and press releases
in promotion of
her ventures. Her current venture, EthnicVendors.com is an
online shopping portal and catalog distributor for ethnic goods and
services. It is a subsidiary of EthnicHomeDecor.com.
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