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November 20, 2009

Marketing

In professional development today, we talked about management and marketing. This is an important aspect of business no matter your profession. I came away from today's lecture with a couple of "aha's."

First is the 10 biggest mistakes in marketing:
1) Getting wedded to an idea and sticking to it too long. When I hear this, I think of Chik-fil-a. They have beaten the "Eat Mor Chikin" ad campaign to death. Some people still think it's cute, but it's the same idea it was 10 years ago.
2) No marketing plan. Enough said.
3) Not knowing your customers. This is huge. If you are in a service-oriented industry, there is no reason that you should not know your customers. This is especially true in massage therapy because of the personal nature of the service we provide. It is unconscionable to not know who is on your table underneath your hands, and what they are there for.
4) Ignoring your cash position. Our instructor explained this as borrowing from other areas of your operating budget to cover your marketing costs. This is simple mismanagement of resources, and could not only fail your marketing plan, but sink your business, as well. I also think of this concept in terms of tracking the growth of your business over time. Keep track of whether your business is continuing to grow, and if it's not, you may need to change your marketing strategy.
5) Ignoring employees. This one is a no-brainer to me. Your employees are part of your company assets. Managing them well is crucial to the success of your business. You want your employees to be on-board with your business mission so that they feel invested in the success of the business. As an owner/manager it is important to realize that each employee come to you with his/her own set of skills that hopefully will benefit your business. Listen to their ideas and concerns, and empower them to take ownership of ideas and solutions.
6) Confusing likelihood with reality. You've opened your doors. You've got great employees. You've done your research in order to fill a product/service niche. The customers should start rolling in any minute now. But they don't. You better examine why and figure out how to make that should a reality.
7) No sales plan. It's useful to understand the difference between marketing and sales: Marketing is everything that you do to reach and persuade prospects. The sales process is everything that you do to close the sale and get a signed agreement or contract. Both are necessities to the success of a business.
8) Being a lone ranger. Simply put, we do not operate in a vacuum. You have peers, competitors, vendors and suppliers, and a professional association. Believe it or not, these people are part of your assets. Interview the successful ones to help get information about what makes them a success. If you have a niche product or service, these people may help you get business through word of mouth or referrals. Luckily, massage is a helping profession, and the nature of most therapists is cooperative. You may surprised by how much help your "competition" is willing to give you.
9) No mastermind. Okay, if marketing isn't your strength, then find a professional who will help you come up with a plan. Stick to their plan; they're professionals, so they know what they're doing. If the plan doesn't seem to be working, your marketing mastermind will help assess why it's not working. That's what you're paying them for.
10) Giving up. You've got to give your marketing some time in order to work. Just like hanging a shingle out to say that you're open won't create a instant line of people waiting to get in, a marketing plan requires repeat "hits" before your brand sinks into the public's consciousness. I think I read somewhere that the public needs to see/hear something 7 times before they remember it.

When I was in business for myself, I watched my business grow every year. My revenues peaked in 2005 and then began to slump. This was not a huge issue for me because, by this time, I had already made the decision to pursue graduate school. However, if I had decided to stay with owning my own business for the long-haul, this would have been a turning point. I would have needed to examine some trends in my business, and figure out what was working and what needed to change so that my business would continue to grow.

The take home message: Marketing is Ceaseless.

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Posted by linda at November 20, 2009 12:18 PM

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