• Makheni Zonneveld

#3 A comprehensive marketing strategy for your small business

Updated: Feb 19, 2019

This post is part of the free Q & A Future Readiness service. If you have not yet subscribed please click here or watch the 4-minute video on the homepage of makheni.com. Please click here for previous blogs in the series.

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This is a continuation of the answer to Martine's question. To see the first in this series please click here https://bit.ly/2BGY4WI .

Dear Makheni

I was pleased to learn from your latest response to Eugene that you are going to start with what you usually refer to as a ‘comprehensive marketing strategy’. My husband and I own a small hotel in The Netherlands and because of the location, a lot of tourists come to this area especially in Spring and Summer. Your blogs opened my eyes to the fact that the person we engaged for online marketing services knows how to build websites, set up social media accounts etc. but she does not speak the language that you speak in your blogs about a comprehensive strategy. I have two questions. 1. Will you please start with what a comprehensive marketing strategy is. 2. If we engage your services on setting up a marketing strategy will you help us with the implementation? We are not old (40’s) but we are far from tech savvy. We don't mind coming to you. Thank you. Martine (Not her real name).

Dear Martine

Last week we started this journey - formulating a comprehensive marketing strategy.

I hope that in the past week you invested the in time that was required to go through all the material. Shortcuts do not work. If you really want to do this right you should get the foundation right. You were supposed to revisit the links that I referred to, answer the questions on your overall business strategy, then answer the first question on a comprehensive marketing strategy: What do I want to achieve?

If you have not yet done that, please go back and put horse before the cart so you can have a solid foundation.

I hope that you have put your Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bond marketing objective in writing. I can’t emphasise this enough. A coaching client once asked me why she had to put that in writing because she is a sole proprietor and thus did not have to put her goal in writing for anyone. I responded with a question, “If you were not a sole proprietor, whom would you put it in writing for.” End of discussion.

A comprehensive marketing strategy for your small business

1. What do I want to achieve?


2. Who is my customer?

A marketing strategy has everything to do with customers out there so the next step is to define your customer properly. I have just said customers ‘out there’. By that I do not mean people out there who have never done business with you. Customer is a broader concept than that. I deal with this in more detail here - I mention the fact that prospective clients are made up of three categories of people.

1. Existing clients,

2. Unconverted leads

3. People who have never heard of us.

Last week you answered the question ‘Who is my customer?’ in broad terms under the business strategy. Now it’s time to really describe this person. Who is this person you want to reach with your message? Define this person in terms of demographics like gender, age, location etc. Define this person in terms of sector, occupation, in employment, self-employment etc. You may even offer services to job-seekers e.g. how to write a cv or how to conduct yourself at an interview. You do not want to reach pensioners or teenagers or successful entrepreneurs with such messages. Define this person in terms of interests that may be relevant to your products/services. ‘Relevant’ because if you want to reach someone who is looking for rental accommodation, knowing that he/she is interested in motor racing does not help you. On the other hand, if the property you are renting out is pet-friendly, then the fact that the person is a dog or cat lover is very relevant. Define this person in terms of the media he/she consumes because that is where you are going to engage with him/her.

People only think of this when they are already implementing their tactics e.g. when advertising on Facebook or Google or YouTube or any online medium because that is when they get asked to tick these boxes. If you advertise in traditional media you do not get asked those questions because traditional media like TV do not deliver your message to the specific person that you define. At the point when you tick those boxes it is too late to start defining your customer. Now is the time to define that person because your whole strategy should revolve around: 1. The problem you solve as defined in your business strategy and 2. This definition of your customer.

A great advantage of an online business is that your prospects are not limited to your geographic area. The other side of the coin is that, whether you have an online business, nationwide or local business, your competitors are not determined by the nature of your business. If you have a local business prospects in your area can still consume products or services from an online business anywhere in the world. I always give an example of the online coaching services that I offer. Most of my clients are not within a 10 kilometre radius of where I am based so I am a competition to coaches who only offer Face2Face services wherever they are based. That takes us to the next question - who is my competitor?

3. Who is my competition?

This is how one of my clients responded to the question ‘Who is your competition?’ “I do not keep myself busy who or what the competition does. I focus on my own story”. The truth is his story does not happen in a vacuum – there is always competition no matter what you offer. Competition affects every aspect of your business. Even before you decide to start a business you should be aware of what is out there? Is it an over-cluttered market? Can I find a niche for myself, What is the competition good at? What competitive edge do I have? This person who said that he was busy with his own story had started his story with no context.

We often make the mistake of thinking of competition in terms of direct competition like Tesla competing against other fully electric cars. Competition is far broader than that. You compete for the same attention as everyone else and for the same dollar as everyone else. I dealt with this in more detail here.

There are times when you need to define your competition in the narrow sense for example when you position your product in the market but when it comes to grabbing the attention of your customers you should keep the broader definition in mind.

What do you compete on?

Over the years I have realised that once you mention competition the first association is price. Price is an important factor in many buying decisions but definitely not the only one. If you are in a market where every cent counts, like in the basic needs market, then price becomes the dominant factor and you cannot run away from that. There are very few markets where price plays no role at all or a very minor role. Most of the time price is a factor to be considered.

The scope for competing is wider than we imagine. Apart from price, you can compete on uniqueness, relevance, quality of product, quality of service, speed of service (getting more important by the day as people expect faster than fast) etc.

Apart from having a limited budget, when people make buying decisions the role of price is based on perception of value. It depends on whether your prospect perceives what you offer as value for money or not? It is your job to influence this perception.

That takes us to next week’s topic - managing perceptions and positioning what you offer. You can only position yourself properly if you know what your competitive edge is.

What next?

Answer all the questions on the customer and the competition.

Till next week

Makheni your Future Readiness Coach

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Makheni Zonneveld has extensive experience in helping organisations, teams, individuals and entrepreneurs with real transformation. She employs these communications tools: Online and face2face coaching, speaking, training, storytelling and writing.

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