"Strategy is buying a bottle of fine wine when you take a lady out for dinner. Tactics is getting her to drink it."
Today I'm very excited to be launching the first Tiger Team special offer. Like any marketing expert I tested the offer with my target market: small business owners who would give me honest & helpful input. It's a good thing I did the test & it's a good thing I have a thick skin. I received smart advice. As a result the offer & content are way better. Perfect? Close? You tell me.
So what did I learn?
We're definitely not in Kansas anymore. It's a social media world out there - so we're told. I'll be skipping my way down the yellow brick road because they promise:
Gotta go post some cool pics.
Check Out Tiger Team Marketing's latest Blog published in The Patch
Let's say you own a business, and you want to find new ways to increase sales. Do a Google search on ANY topic you care about, and you'll come up with dozens of X-best lists. You can spend hours (days?) looking for information that MAY address your questions. Too much information, not enough help. Starting and growing a business is a huge challenge. From our own experience here's how you can kick start your marketing:
Set aside an hour or two, out a piece of (virtual) paper, and do this:
1. List your business goals. Get specific. What's your revenue goal for this year? Next year? List other goals such as hire new employees, creating work/life balance.
2. Describe your ideal customer. In detail. Why would they care about your products & services? Think about how they might learn about your business: Online, social media, friends, business associates, flyers around town.
3. Create a conversation about your products and services. Imagine you have just one minute to explain it to a prospective customer. Describe it in their "language", why they should care, what makes it unique, how it benefits your customer. Create a "value proposition" that is casual, compelling and exciting.
4. Develop a marketing plan based on what you have outlined above. Make a list: What kind of marketing "content" do you need and where should it be placed? You might print and post flyers, update your web-site, start or re-ignite your blog, use Facebook and other social media for low-cost targeted advertising. Leverage your expertise by writing informative articles for relevant publications. Find ways and places to create offers and incentives for customers to buy. Develop a targeted and consistent reach in on-line communities and physical locations where your target customers congregate.
5. Work your plan. Prioritize, create, and communicate. Get help and coaching from outside experts where you need it. Measure results, make adjustments, and keep working it!
I'm an avid Podcast listener - Fresh Air, BBC's Kermode & Mayo, Maron's WTF & anything Slate. A new favorite is The Gist with Mike Pesca - topical, short, & sweet. I especially liked the podcast from last week with author Stephen Dubner: "Freakonomics is Basically a Peanut Butter Cup". To paraphrase:
"...Working with Georganne, it took less then 2 hours to develop and start implementing a focused business plan. I’m thrilled that my investment paid for itself in less then a month! "
It's a blast to see clients have a major "Aha!" moment. Like when they see the benefits of targeted marketing campaigns vs. hit & miss activities. While concentrating on the day-to-day aspects of running their business, the basics of effective marketing are often overlooked. My own Aha moment was remembering to drink my own champagne. As I was developing consulting services to offer Tiger Team Marketing clients, I put them in practice myself.
One result was the development of a simple program that leads Tiger Team clients through the process of mapping out their marketing strategy: " One-Page . Two-Hours . Five-steps". By focusing on business and marketing best practices, I provide a a framework that guides clients through common discovery & planning exercises:
1. Deciding their business & marketing goals
2. Describing their customers
3. Defining their products
4. Developing a marketing plan
5. Doing it: setting a budget, creating a specific set of activities & deliverables, determining a timeline
Typically we begin with a Kick Start coaching session that helps the client take an outside-in view of their company. This builds a framework for the marketing conversation they want to have with their customers. From there we brainstorm on the strategy & plan. After the coaching session, the client is likely to engage with Tiger Team for implementing the plan in a way that best suits their needs.
It's a great journey as I continue to drink the champagne & go through my own 5-steps, making continual improvements along the way. Check out the Tiger Team website, updated to create more focus on the small business market. Another step towards achieving my own business goals. Let me know what you think!
Having worked for both start-up & public companies, my professional "makeover" includes social giving. A few months ago, I applied to become a Pro Bono consultant for non-profits through the Taproot Foundation. Of those who apply to work with Taproot, 45% are accepted. I've been "tapped" as a Strategy Consultant. After an orientation & training in SF last week, I've targeted a few projects on which I would like to contribute. The time commitment is 3-5 hours a week, so I guess my horses will get an extra day off now an then. With a focus on small-business consulting, and a little pro bono, I'm happy to say my career is no longer focused around corporate shareholder value. What's a Taproot? If you're looking for a way to give back by leveraging your professional skills, check out Taproot.
As part of creating my business and marketing plan for Tiger Team, I needed to validate my assumptions. With the goal of providing marketing services to small business owners, I clearly need to totally get their key challenges. I have a boatload of experience marketing to small businesses, and I run two small businesses. Regardless, I need to be sure that I am packaging and marketing Tiger Team services so they truly resonate with & inspire target customers. I put into practice what I preach & did a short survey of 100 Bay Area small business owners. I was only slightly surprised with the results:
- The primary challenge for these businesses is growing sales & improving profitability.
- Only 42% indicated they have a clearly defined business plan.
- Of those with a plan only 25% are on track to meeting their business goals.
- Primarily their marketing is organic, using websites, social media & word-of-mouth.
- Not surprisingly only 35% find their marketing effective in achieving their sales goals!
Creating the Tiger Team Plan
Many of the respondents indicated that they don't have the time or aren't sure how to create & carry out a marketing plan. Almost 1/2 thought they didn't need a plan. At the same time, these respondents said they are not meeting their sales goals & need to grow revenue.
This data plays a big part in how I package and market Tiger Team services. So far, the results are positive. I have a simple step-by-step process that enables a small business to kickstart an effective marketing program.
"One Page - Two Hours - Five Steps"
It may sound a little corny, yet it totally resonates with the customers I pitch. It gives them a straightforward way to organize their planning, plus motivation to seek expert help. This simple kickstart program, moves small business leaders beyond the perception that social media for example, is the panacea for creating sales. Tiger Team Marketing offers three levels of services built around this program and customers contract with us for some or all of the five steps depending on their needs. And one of the best results for Tiger Team Marketing was going through this process ourselves, taking a huge step forward in our own marketing efforts.
Here's an unsolicited plug for SurveyMonkey. Their tool is easy to use, free for basic surveys & full of helpful suggestions. I will definitely use them again.
Georganne Benesch is the principal of Tiger Team Marketing, CMO of Centerline Farm and a over zealous Yoga practitioner. With 25+ years in high-tech product marketing, she consults for start-ups, small businesses and technology companies.