Be an Ethical Entrepreneur, Marketer, and Business Builder

Small Business Marketing – Lead Generators and Implementation

So far I’ve addressed the structure for your Marketing System, your company’s Vision, Mission, and Culture, and how to develop a Strategy and Clarity in your marketing plan. Finally, we get to look at actually generating leads. When you think marketing, this is what pops into your head. Yellow page ads, trade shows, direct mail campaigns, e-mail marketing, Google Adwords, websites, magazine ads, Television, and newspaper ads are a few that come to mind.

At this point, we’re not going to discuss how to create great copy, structure strong offers, or even track the response. At this point in your Marketing System you need to simply outline your Lead Generators according to each revenue stream along with all of the steps for implementation. So how do we do this? There are basically 3 steps.

  1. Write down all of your current marketing programs.
  2. Track which revenue streams each program markets.
  3. Outline all of the steps to effectively implement each marketing piece.

At this point you should already have 3-5 primary revenue streams for your business. Keep in mind, when I say Revenue Streams, that does not mean 3-5 products or services. Each stream can have dozens of products or services, think of a stream more like an area of expertise. Most strong businesses can’t effectively become experts in more than 3-5 areas.

Obviously some of your marketing will overlap revenue streams such as a Yellow Pages ad (though these are dying or already dead for a lot of businesses), Trade Show, or Google Adwords. Your website and direct online marketing, such as Google Adwords, that leads people to your website should have a specific page to address each revenue stream (area of expertise).

So to get an idea of what the Lead Sources and Implementation stage looks like, here’s a quick example. For this example I’ll assume I’m a flooring company who resells and installs flooring.

  1. Revenue Stream #1 – Residential Flooring
    1. Direct Mail Postcards
      1. Goal – Get consumer to come to our showroom.
      2. Budget – $1500
      3. Timeline – Will be mailed first week of May with a follow-up post card 2 weeks later.
      4. Pricing/Offer – Free upgrade to premium option with post card for the next 30 days.
      5. Sales Training – Sales Leader will introduce at next week’s team meeting to all sales, office, and service personnel
      6. 4.5 Points of Copy –
        1. Problem – Worn out, unattractive, hard-to-maintain flooring.
        2. Solution – Newer options that are easier to keep clean and look much better.
        3. Why us – Best Reputation <Testimonials>, Best Prices <guaranteed>, Professional installers
        4. Why now – It’s our slow time of the year so we can afford to upgrade your flooring choice for free.
        5. Risk Free – Stop in or have one of our flooring experts visit your home for a risk-free assessment and quote.
      7. Tracking – Offer is only available on this card
    2. Radio Ad
      1. Goal – Get consumer to visit our showroom
      2. Budget – $300/week
      3. Timeline – 30 :30 second spots per week thru April, May, and June.
      4. Pricing/Offer – Half price carpet padding
      5. Sales Training – Marketing leader will introduce to team at 3/31 Team Meeting.
      6. 4.5 Points of Copy –
        1. Problem – Worn out, unattractive, hard-to-maintain flooring.
        2. Solution – Newer options that are easier to keep clean and look much better.
        3. Why us – Best Reputation <Testimonials>, Best Prices <guaranteed>, Professional installers
        4. Why now – N/A (not enough time to address in 30 seconds)
        5. Risk Free – Stop in or have one of our flooring experts visit your home for a risk-free assessment and quote.
      7. Tracking – Offer only available through radio. Have flooring experts ask people if they listen to 103.7.

And you would continue to do the same thing for each Revenue Stream and Lead Source while keeping your Target Customer, USP, and Positioning Strategy in mind for each step of implementation. In your manual, you’ll want to keep a copy of the Direct Mail Postcard and script of the radio commercial. Preferably your manual will also be digital so you can store an MP3 of your actual radio ad along with a print-ready PDF of your postcard so you can tweak and reuse. Your manual will also include the results of your ad. Those results will include the # of leads, # of sales, and total $ amount of those sales. You’ll compare those numbers to your total cost of the lead source to determine what you paid to buy each customer along with the $ in sales/$ in marketing. The most important number to determine the effectiveness of that lead source and whether you’ll invest in this marketing again is the dollars of revenue generated per dollar in marketing spent. I generally keep all of this information in a single spreadsheet aggregated for the year called my Marketing Analysis spreadsheet that looks something like this:

Lead Source       Date Ran     Cost     # of Leads     # of Sales     $ in Sales     Cost per Lead     Cost per Sale     $ in Sales per $ in Marketing

Direct Mail PC    5/5/11        $750          7                       3                 $9,237             $107                      $250                               $12.32

To learn more about theses numbers and the math involved reference my previous blog on Scientific Advertising. Since you’ve never done this before, getting your marketing manual up-to-speed will take some time and effort. However it’s worth its weight in gold and it’s a commitment to work ON your business that will make your life easier and more profitable down the road. Once your manual is together, maintaining it with habitual rigor will be a lot easier. Make it habit to reference your manual before doing any marketing and then updating it afterward.

Another major benefit is that you can train someone else to take over your marketing with ease. Whether that person is a team member, ad agency, or even a new owner because you decided to sell your business, providing a Marketing System Manual will be the most valuable item you can pass along to them and they know it. As a business broker I can testify that small businesses who have created manuals, systems, and processes like these throughout their business will ALWAYS fetch a higher price than a similar business without these in place.

To your marketing success, Bryan

Every small business needs a Marketing System… And how to create one

Michael Gerber in The E-Myth Revisited and Sam Carpenter in Work the System both talk about developing effective systems, processes, and scripts in your business to help create a consistent front for your customers and also to develop a business that works without you. Brad Sugars wrote an entire book dedicated to systems called, Instant Systems, because he believes so strongly in their value.

The front line system in your business is your system for generating leads through your marketing. You can argue this is your most important system since, without marketing there’s no way to get customers, however without a strong sales system, service system, or finance/accounting system you won’t have a business for very long even if you do have prospects contacting you. My definition of marketing is anything that gets a potential customer to contact you. Whether that’s by phone, walk-in, email, web-form, or even a direct online order. Once they contact you, it’s up to your sales system to take it from there because now they’re in your sales process.

My marketing system goes into the Marketing Manual… The big picture concept of the Marketing Manual is a resource to reference for all marketing you’ve ever tried along with results. It’s a resource for creative along with your entire marketing plan. Say what? You don’t have a marketing plan? Then let’s get to work.

Just like every aspect of your business, your Marketing Manual has to start with your company vision and mission.  The Marketing Manual Flowchart outlines the major pieces in your marketing manual to provide a quick, graphical guide.

  1. Vision/Mission/Culture – If your marketing doesn’t fit in-line with these, then don’t do it. Simple as that.
  2. Revenue Streams – What product lines or services does your company offer to generate revenue? My chart only has 5 revenue streams because, for most businesses, that’s all you can reasonably handle and become excellent at. It’s much better to have 5 strong revenue streams than 10 half-way streams.
  3. Strategy/Clarity – Before you write a sentence of copy, you need to know who your marketing is meant to talk to (target customer); what specifically is going to set you apart from everyone else (Unique Selling Proposition); and what position, if any, your business holds in the mind of the consumer (positioning strategy). Notice I didn’t say what position you want or what position you think you have; you need to know what position you actually occupy. Once you have a position it’s EXTREMELY difficult to change that position so it’s generally best to work with what you have.
  4. Lead-Generators – This is where most small business owners start. They hear the word marketing and think of where they can run ads or what they can do to generate leads. Don’t make that mistake. Start at the beginning and work your way down. Otherwise, when you get to this point, there’s no real way to know if your marketing is actually working.
  5. Implementation – Each lead source has several pieces to it including what it will cost, how long it will run, special offers, training of the sales staff, copy, and most importantly a method of tracking. If you’re in a small business and are thinking of doing some marketing that you can’t track, then don’t do it. Sure it might make you feel good to see your name on a billboard or hear yourself on the radio. But if you can’t actually track its performance, then pass on that marketing piece. Donations and charity work would be an exception since you’re not doing it to generate leads but just to be a good member of your community.

Instead of making this blog exceedingly long, I decided to break this concept up into a few pieces. Your homework for this week is to start thinking about your company’s vision and mission. If you already have those, define your top 3-5 revenue streams and start thinking about the Strategy/Clarity stage. I’ll give you more tips on how to create a Vision, Mission and Culture and then identify your Target Customer, Unique Selling Proposition, and Positioning Strategy in the next few blogs.

Keep in mind that when your Marketing Manual is finished, you can pass it off to someone else to take the reins, they can pick up where you left off, and keep growing the business.

To your marketing success, Bryan