Navigating the intersection of small business marketing and strategy

Small Business Marketing

When working on small business marketing approach…I feel your pain.

We have closed another month…

Our strategy is set, we are working on near term tasks and objectives.  The plan is being implemented, our assumptions have been documented, our key metrics have been defined, and we are collecting information.

Some of the questions I’m beginning to ask:

  • Was I wrong?
  • Are we working the right initiatives?
  • Are we tracking the right metrics?

Welcome to the intersection of small business marketing plan and the strategic plan!

The best tool available to any leader is feedback.

At it’s most basic level discrete metrics will give you direct feedback that indicate exactly where you are.  Sales, revenue, costs, backlog are black and white. They either are, or they are not.

Then there are the “soft” metrics, and what are called leading indicators.  Simply, leading indicators are measurable factors that occur before a pattern emerges.

How are you collecting leading indicators?

One of the beauties of leveraging social media is that it provides a very powerful tool as it relates to leading indicators.  It provides near-real-time feedback to any business leader who is willing to engage.

More importantly, it allows business owners to “target” their customer base, and move them into (and through) your sales cycle.

This isn’t about followers, likes, +1’s or the other non-relevant social media metrics.  Strong leading indicators are specific to your business, and the media platform that your customers desire to engage.

How do you respond to the feedback?

Sometimes the volume and velocity of feedback can be intimidating, particularly within the social sphere.  Fortunately, that feedback will directly relate to your ROI, and that direct correlation is what small business leaders are always seeking.

In order to take advantage of this feedback, you must be willing to make refinements and adjustments to your small business marketing plan.

You have to be willing to say, “I was wrong”.  Or minimally, “we need to adjust”.

As small business owners, your staff, customers, and clients will appreciate the external focus.  You will appreciate the growth of your business as you refine your approach and leading indicators.  Your future customers will appeciate that you took the time to find them.

The ability to adjust to customer feedback and engage is evidence of strong leadership, and will only strengthen your business and brand.

3 steps to take metrics from your small business marketing plan and apply it to your strategy

1.  Don’t overreact.  

We are only a quarter of the way into the year.  You absolutely want to evaluate both your marketing plan and your strategic plan.  Evaluate the discrete metrics, and analyze your leading indicators.

There should be enough data collected at this point to perform some initial analysis.  This is a process

2.  Select ONE leading indicator to focus upon.  

Analyze the data you has been collected against that leading indicator.  The tendency at this point is to over-correct and try and shift this indicator into an “immediate” timeframe.

Remember they are leading indicators, not sales metrics.  Keep the focus for leading indicators on your strategic objectives, rather than a short term goal.

3. Begin A/B testing against that ONE leading indicator (if you haven’t started already)

Within your strategic and marketing plans, you likely (hopefully) have several leading indicators that you are tracking in order to grow your business.

You do not want to be testing too many variables, as it becomes extremely difficult to determine what changes are impacting our results.

Select the indicator that is making the best progress.  As these indicators are working to move potential customers through your sales lifecycle, focus your efforts on the activity that is making progress.

The Pareto Principle definitely applies  (i.e., the 80/20 rule), thus focus your energies on the 20% that are making progress, as they will deliver 80% of your results.

Enjoy the journey!

About Brandon Pugsley: I help business owners grow their business, profits, and sales by applying real growth expertise against your goals.  If you are ready, let’s talk:  work with me!

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