Most business owners and business professionals realize the importance of integrating social media into their business plan, but what many do not realize, is that a presence is not enough. I often come in contact with individuals who say, “I have a profile set up on every site, but I only look at it once a month.” In this scenario, you should simply delete your profiles because they are not helping you in any way.
If you are committed to spending the required time on social media, we must first create a marketing plan that blends social media with traditional media. Technology has allowed us to get away from picking up the telephone, visiting face-to-face, or mailing information via the U.S. Postal Service. I believe in a healthy blend of the two medias for greater success.
Let’s get started!
Social media takes time, but the time you spend does not have to be the perceived “time waster” if you are focused. Social media is not the area you want to simply jump right into. You must be focused or you will be spending most of your day on the plethora of social media sites, and that would require you to be behind your computer screen instead of in front of your clients. How do you become more focused? You need to develop a marketing plan with clearly defined goals, who exactly your target market is, detailed information regarding your market, and a specific communication plan.
Marketing Plan Development
Your marketing plan should consist of who your target market is, what your areas of expertise are, the goal(s) you want to accomplish, and 3-5 keywords that describe you.
Identifying your target market:
Hopefully you already know who your target market is, but if you do not, an exercise you can do is write down three of your top clients and the categories you would place them in. Are they general consumers? Business owners? Physicians? Home owners? College students? Middle income families?
Once you identify at least three categories, write down other individuals you know who are in these categories to confirm that these markets are viable. For example, I work with small business owners and sole entrepreneurs with their public relations and marketing strategies. I would love to work with larger corporations, but when creating my own marketing plan I quickly realized that my centers of influence were small business owners and start-ups who did not have the funding for a full-time marketing department. I then became focused on these two markets, joined networking groups that consisted of my target market, and I became more intentional with my efforts. I also gained traction with companies who focus on the larger market, by being able to refer potential clients to them who were not a part of my focused plan.
Use centers of influence (COI) to learn about your market:
One of the best ways to meet people in the market is to begin with someone you know in that market and to interview them to learn more about the market first hand. When you meet with COI, you learn how the market communicates, what meetings you should attend, and whom you need to know.
Research your target market:
You must do the groundwork for any market you want to reach to be successful in it. Identify any local and national publications, trade organizations, professional meetings, Internet sites (including main website), informal networking opportunities, and volunteer activities your target market is involved in.
You should also conduct an Internet search to review trends, competitor activities, and consumer perceptions. The more knowledgeable you are, the easier it will be to supply your potential clients with information regarding how you differ from your competitors, and why you can add the most value to them.
Develop an approach and communication strategy:
Approach strategy: This strategy identifies what you will need to do to be known to your target market. These action steps are used to introduce your services to your market.
These action steps may include:
- Choose up to three social media sites (not including a blog) where you need to have a presence
- Create or fine-tune your existing blog
- Develop elevator speech specific to your market(s)
- Write an introduction letter
- Identify marketing collateral you currently have and need to produce
- Schedule a breakfast, lunch, or dinner with members of your COI
- Create or update your website
- Prepare a mailing with contacts from any existing lists, purchased lists, and contacts from your social media sites like LinkedIn
During this process you will also want to add columns next to your action steps with detailed information on what each step entails, a deadline for each step to be completed, who you will be reaching, and the cost. Always track the cost or you may be spending more money than you will get in return.
Market development strategy:
This strategy is the integration of you and your services to the needs of the market. Your goal here is to make sure that your market recognizes you as a professional and the main resource to fulfill their needs.
These action steps may include:
- Social media tasks
- Networking meetings
- Association meetings
- Seminars to attend and present
- Speaking engagement opportunities
- Tradeshows to attend and exhibit
Like with your approach strategies, you will want to add columns next to your action steps with detailed information for each step, a completion deadline, desired goal for each strategy, and the cost.
A continuation of this discussion will be in my future posts. I will provide sample questions you can ask your COI regarding your market to gain entrance into your market, learn more about your market, and be known as an expert in your market. We will then dive into identifying the social media platforms that would be the most beneficial for your business goals.
Please feel free to provide feedback or ask questions. I am here to assist you with moving your business to the next level.