As you have probably gathered from reading my other articles, I am a firm believer in planning for success. Whether it is operational excellence, de-branding a store or outlining your procedures and policies, prudent planning creates stronger execution and efficiency. While planning may come second nature to me, I am surprised at how many operators leave their success to chance.I have the opportunity to speak to a number of audiences on advertising/marketing, and one of the questions I ask is whether or not the audience has created an annual advertising/marketing plan. Invariably, the operators that have an annual plan are in the minority. It is odd that most operators are fairly regimented in their routines, until it comes to investing dollars back into the business in the form of advertising.My guess is that most operators may be intimidated to a certain extent regarding advertising and thus, avoid the process of planning their investments. While it is true that there are some buzzwords in advertising, it is nothing more than having a cohesive communication plan for your trade area. With that in mind, here are some key items to include on developing an annual plan:Outline Goals: What do you want to accomplish? This may seem like an elementary question, but depending upon what your goals are, will determine what type of ad plan you will create and follow. If your goal is to increase customer traffic to existing and new customers, then a plan that addresses marketing activities throughout your 3-mile trade area is critical. If, on the other hand, your goal is to sell more to existing customers, implementing loyalty programs and combo deals, for instance, are both designed to raise your average ticket. Throughout the year, you may find that you weave in both of these strategies.Determine Budget: Once your goals are determined, it is time to earmark investment dollars for your plan. The budget will help determine how “meaty” your annual ad plan will be throughout the year. Most operators determine their ad investment dollars as a percentage of their sales. That way, as sales grow, more dollars as a percentage, can be re-invested back into the business. While this may alter some of your plans over the course of the year as sales projections fluctuate, it is much easier to adjust from an annual foundation as opposed to month-to-month planning.Set To A Timeline: Which leaves us to the whole notion of creating an annual ad plan so that it can be executed throughout the year in a cohesive way. Most operators miss this part of the planning. Operators will say “we have a plan”, but a collection of one month ads that fail to work together is not a long-term cohesive strategy. Rather, the scattered approach lends itself to “chasing the next shiny object” and at the end of the year, the goals are not achieved.Vertically Integrate The Message: Once the key dates are determined, identifying the vehicles to be used – i.e., electronic, print, social, POP, etc. – is next. Regardless of the sequence, it is imperative that each of the vehicles communicate a theme or what is commonly known as “vertically integrating” the message. Limited ad investment funds can stretch considerably longer if each of the vehicles reinforces the message. If it is “burger of the month”, then all ads during that month should promote that burger.Communicate To Team: Your staff is the critical link to a well-executed advertising plan. Failure to communicate when the vehicle will be in reaching customers or the content of the message will blindside your staff when a customer reacts to an ad. There is nothing more frustrating to a customer that comes into a store then an ill-informed staff member. All of the time to plan and investment to bring in that customer is for naught.Post Analysis: Lastly, in order to make your dollars work stronger in the future, it is essential to judge and measure the success of dollars that have already been spent. If something works – repeat it! If the investment underperformed, go to plan B and modify your annual plan. While your annual plan should create a cohesive strategic foundation, it is not etched in granite – it can be modified as vehicles are analyzed. Create a plan for success and fine-tune throughout the year.
Although email marketing is a must do in every business in the last ten or more years we will try here to clear (once again) why your business needs such a kind of marketing today. Ten reasons are a good ‘reason’ to start thinking about it if you are not already using this beautiful method.Reason 1: DIRECT Email marketing is a direct method of communication with your customer (or potential customer). Even if you sell shoes or fish or web services or you do coaching or consulting you need communication with your customers. Today we have several methods of communication: TV, websites, RSS, Facebook, Twitter, print catalogues, chatting, phones, magazines, wall advertising and much more. With email marketing you send an email in the private email inbox of your customer. This is a very direct method. If you want to be more direct than this you have to give them a phone call or go to see them in person. Sending an email is direct enough to tell them the story about your business. If you have using opt in methods to get their email then this method is almost like chatting with your friends.Reason 2: DIRECT BUT NOT VIOLENT This is one unique feature. You get in the inbox of your customer (or potential customer) but you let him/her to choose when is the right time to read your email. Imagine the difference in sales results between a direct phone call in busy work hours and a polite email. If the customer is really interested in what you have to say then email marketing is the best method to approach. If you really care about your customers and you want to make a good, honest sale or just a good communication then you should consider using this.Reason 3: EASY This feature is unbeatable. You write a good email and this reaches 100,1.000 or 10.000 of your customers with the same content, with the same behavior, with the same offer, with the exactly same way. If you are using autoresponders you can have a series or scenarios of ready to go emails for your new subscribers. You do your best in an email campaign and it is ready to contact all your email list subscribers with the same effort. Your old subscribers and your subscribers that will come over the next months. Cannot get anything easiest and powerful than this.Reason 4: CHEAP By using AWeber email services you can send unlimited emails per month to 2.500 email subscribers for only $29. If you read all our reviews you will find pricing reviews for a lot of companies. According to Direct Marketing Association email marketing returns an average of around $46 for every dollar spent. This is one of the biggest ROI (Return Of Investment) KPI’s (Key performance indicator) in the advertising market. This is really extremely cheap even if you have a company starting now with no profits at all.Reason 5: FAST Another unbeatable feature. You send an email which reaches 100, 1.000, 10.000 or more email subscribers in the next ten minutes. No other method can have the same results. In TV or in Facebook or in twitter you can have such large audiences in the spot but you must have them synchronized. If some of your potential customers do not see TV on the time your commercial is on they will not see your message. If your followers do not have twitter on they will lose your tweet. If you have a website you do not know when they will come in. By marketing with email you send your message and you ‘knock’ your clients door when they have the time to see you. And you do that in minutes. Extremely fast. One offer can have a million of results in just a few minutes, if you have built a big email list.Reason 6: UNIVERSAL If your job is only local this feature does not give you any advantage. But if your product can sells universal then this is a method for you. For example you sell ebooks or shoes worldwide? An email campaign can reach people from all over the world. China, United States, UK, Greece or any other country, all in the next ten minutes or so, after you send your offer in an email campaign. You do not really care where your subscriber is. Your results are independent of the location.Reason 7: MEASURABLE When you are using marketing by email you can count how many emails you send how many of your emails are opened and when how many of your email subscribers took your email offer If you combine this feature with the extremely low cost of this method then you get a really big advantage from any other advertising method. As they say ‘You can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure’.Reason 8: TARGETED An extremely powerful feature is that you can segment your email list according their preferences. To give an example let’s suppose you sell shoes. You want to segment your customers according the color of shoes they like. If you send them an email with five offers in five different colours you can segment your list with this feature. If some subscribers prefer red shoes you can then start a campaign with only red shoes. This will give you targeted results. If you focus in targeted groups you always have better results than targeting all over.Reason 9: GREEN This is not really a feature for marketing by email but we have to consider all our actions if we want to exist tomorrow. Sending emails is extremely more ‘green’ than printing catalogues or advertising in magazines. Think green, specially before you decide you’re advertising method.Reason 10: PERSONAL Marketing by email is not as personal as giving your customer a phone call but if you put your personal style in your email or if you give your email address to contact you if he/she have any comment or any question about your offer then it really get’s very personal. If you are really friendly and polite in your email this is personal. This is something very good for your business because you can expand your relationships with your customers (or your potential customers). And if you expand your relationships you will expand your business.So your ten reasons for doing email marketing are1. DIRECT2. DIRECT BUT NOT VIOLENT3. EASY4. CHEAP5. FAST6. UNIVERSAL7. MEASURABLE8. TARGETED9. GREEN10. PERSONALStill thinking why you should use it? We hope we’ve put you in the next level and you start thinking how you can make really good email campaign.Email marketing can take your business, any kind of business, in a different level. You must use it, the results can be remarkable. We really believe this and we will try to help you in any way in our review site.