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Posts Tagged ‘developing marketing plans’

Why Should Your Small Business Conduct Market Research?

Posted by advantagemarketing on October 4, 2016

Why does your company need market research?

Insights gained from market research can help your company bring more value to its clients and stay ahead of the competition.

Recently, a CEO  of a mid-sized firm, for whom Advantage Marketing had proposed a much-needed market research project, asked how he should justify the project to his Board of Directors. Here’s what I told him: 

Are any of your board members pilots? Ask them if they would fly blind, without the indicators on the plane’s control panel. Market research is just like those indicators. It keeps you aloft as a business, and prevents you from crashing and burning. Right now your company is flying blind – how close are you to crashing and burning without valid market insights? If you’re not crashing and burning, you’re at least wasting fuel (money) by running inefficiently with things that won’t bring value to clients or get you new business.

With market research, the return on investment is almost always positive.What would be the value if this project netted you just one new client? Or, even better, if it enabled you to develop a new product line for a new market? It’s not certain that you’d get either, but you certainly aren’t getting either now.

Other benefits of market research include:

  1. Maintaining and improving the sales team’s focus.
  2. Pointing you in the direction of the most lucrative opportunities.
  3. Keeping your company relevant and future-oriented.
  4. Improving your decision-making and reducing your risk.
  5. Keeping you ahead of the competition.

It also avoids negative consequences such as:

  1. Plunging blindly ahead and investing money where it doesn’t provide value for customers.
  2. Staying the same as always and losing market share to others who innovate and come up with a better, faster, or cheaper way of doing what you’re doing now.
  3. Losing money because you’re caught sleeping while the market is changing.

Is your company considering market research? What do you see as the benefits of research for your company?

Posted in B2B marketing, Market research, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, sales and marketing, small business, Traditional marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Better Marketing: 13 Quotes to Inspire Your Thinking

Posted by advantagemarketing on July 24, 2015

marketing quotes to inspire

Let these 13 quotes inspire you to update and improve your marketing program.

Summer’s slower days are a good time to get inspired to revise and refocus your company’s marketing. Here are a baker’s dozen of quotes to help get your creative marketing juices flowing – even as you’re sipping mai tai’s on the beach.

The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself. – Peter Drucker

Word of mouth is the most valuable form of marketing, but you can’t buy it. You can only deliver it. And you have to really deliver.  – G-Eazy

Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department. – David Packard

Money coming in says I’ve made the right marketing decisions.  – Adam Osborne

There was a period of time in America where the advertising world actually went to the housewives of America and had them write jingles that would appeal to them. It was actually brilliant marketing. – Julianne Moore

I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination. – David Ogilvy

When I meet with the founders of a new company, my advice is almost always, ‘Do fewer things.’ It’s true of partnerships, marketing opportunities, anything that’s taking up your time. The vast majority of things are distractions, and very few really matter to your success. – Evan Williams

For a truly effective social campaign, a brand needs to embrace the first principles of marketing, which involves brand definition and consistent storytelling. – Simon Mainwaring

In marketing I’ve seen only one strategy that can’t miss – and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last. – John Romero

Permission marketing turns strangers into friends and friends into loyal customers. It’s not just about entertainment – it’s about education. Permission marketing is curriculum marketing. – Seth Godin

In my first start-up, I had an initial advertising budget of $5 per day total. That would buy us 100 clicks per day. At $5 per day, marketing people scoffed and said that is too small to matter. But if you think about it, to an engineer, 100 real humans everyday giving your product a try means you can really start improving. – Eric Ries

We all have jobs in our lives that we must get done. We reach out and bring products into our lives to get these jobs done. Marketing is all about asking, ‘What job is the customer trying to accomplish?’ – Clayton Christensen

The dream for many millennial women is to make a difference as social or political entrepreneurs. They are using the social media and marketing tools they have mastered to empower less fortunate women and direct them onto career tracks that women have traditionally avoided, like science and technology. – Gail Sheehy

Share your favorite marketing quote.


Posted in Business, Marketing, Marketing plans, Marketing Strategy, small business, Thought leadership, Traditional marketing, Word of mouth marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

New RESULTS! Book Delivers Solutions to Drive Business Success

Posted by advantagemarketing on May 22, 2015


Check out my new book, which was written to help business owners achieve lasting, high impact RESULTS! in their businesses.

Are you ready to see RESULTS! in your business?

If you believe, as I do, that our thoughts create our reality, then you want to read my latest book. I’ve partnered with 16 other smart-cookie business professionals to participate in an anthology book project called RESULTS! Impactful Solutions to Drive Business.

The book is designed to help entrepreneurs and small business owners gain the information they need to have a successful business and see RESULTS! All of the expert authors have been through the same struggles as you but have come out on top with thriving, successful businesses and now we want to share that information with you!

In my section, Build a Better Marketing Plan, I zero in on the five simple rules for building a marketing plan and the seven marketing plan must-haves.

As my friend and client Don McDermott told me, “If I have a marketing plan in place, I don’t have to think, I just have to DO.”

Other chapters in the book will help you focus on
• Seven steps to living as a confident entrepreneur
• How to transform your leadership to grow your business
• Power dressing techniques so that you can look as smart as you are
• How a virtual assistant can benefit your business
• And much more!

RESULTS! is available in both Kindle and paperback versions on

You can also follow my RESULTS! book journey on Facebook.

Follow the whole RESULTS! gang on Twitter – track us with the hashtag #RESULTS!

Leave a comment and let me know how you are getting RESULTS!

Posted in Book marketing, brand building, Business, content marketing, Email marketing, Entrepreneur, Facebook, lead generation, Marketing, Marketing plans, Marketing Strategy, small business, Traditional marketing, Using books to market your firm, Word of mouth marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Whole-Brained Approach to Marketing Is Most Valuable

Posted by advantagemarketing on December 2, 2014


Today, you need both creative and analytical/technical components to your marketing plan, if you expect to be successful in engaging customers.

By guest blogger Laura Carter

When we think about marketing, we most often think of creativity, innovation, and visual appeal, traits that typically come from so-called “right-brained” thinkers. However, a new trend is taking over, where “left-brained” or analytical thinking is just as valued and respected in the marketing world.

The main goals for marketing have always been to understand the customer and then guide him or her towards a purchase. The path that a buyer takes to that purchase has evolved over the years. According to the CEB Marketing Leadership Council, customers now progress nearly 60% of the way through the purchase decision-making process before actually engaging a sales rep. This places a heavy burden on marketers to deliver value and education early on in the buying process.

As a result of changing buying styles, businesses must embrace the role of technology in their marketing strategies. If you expect to reach and engage customers today, your marketing strategy must employ both analytic/technical and creative strategies. In other words, you need to have both geeks and creative types contribute to your marketing.

Those who don’t include technology and analytics will surely be left behind, if they haven’t been already.   Spending in this arena has already increased and is still on the rise. In fact, Laura McLellan of Gartner predicts that by 2017, CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs.

The best companies must know how to generate interest using technology and turn that into actual revenue. They also must realize that their products and brand need to have a broad appeal that comes from a full right and left brain marketing approach.

With more money being invested in marketing technology, businesses want to see that they are actually getting a return on their investment. This often requires a more refined approach to analytics than what we have seen in the past. Modern marketers need to constantly monitor these analytics to know which areas to focus on and which areas to drop.

Marketers are not only expected to provide good marketing skills, but must also be able to track results with accurate analytics. They must also be able to merge fine details with creativity, analytics with the abstract, and logic with imagination to capture market share.

What marketing strategy do you use for your business? Is it a left-brained, right-brained, or whole-brained approach?

Posted in B2B marketing, Business, content marketing, lead generation, Marketing, Marketing automation, Marketing plans, Marketing Strategy, Marketing Trends, Social media marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How to Become the Expert People Want to Hire

Posted by advantagemarketing on October 7, 2014

content marketing

Your prospects will stick around when you give them the information resources they need to solve problems

Prospects Can’t Resist Sticky Content

When you give your prospects information that guides them to a problem solution – that’s sticky content!

When you use sticky content effectively, you become the expert people want to hire.

The Sticky Content Plan can help small businesses, consulting firms, and professional service firms build the information resources that bring customers to your door!

You get:

  • A 3-month content plan to rev up your sticky content creation
  • An analysis and suggested improvements for the “stickiness” of your website and two social media accounts.
  • An evaluation of your company’s brand messaging – does it compel people to stick around (and hire you)?

A $1,500 Value – Only $999!

Get Your Sticky Content Plan

Posted in B2B marketing, Business, content marketing, lead generation, Marketing, Marketing plans, Marketing Strategy, Professional service firm marketing, small business, Thought leadership | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Attract More Customers to Your Business

Posted by advantagemarketing on January 14, 2014

Magnetic Marketing Tips newsletter

Register for the free Magnetic Marketing Tips newsletter and you’ll be attracting more customers in no time!

Here’s another valuable and FREE resource I want to share with you that can help you attract and win more clients: Magnetic Marketing Tips.

When you register to receive Magnetic Marketing Tips, every two weeks you’ll receive one short (I promise!) and fun email with a practical tip or insight that you can put to work immediately to help you grow your business.

Magnetic Marketing Tips will show you how to:

  • Attract the right prospects, even in a tough economy
  • Accelerate your growth by using social media and other powerful marketing tactics effectively
  • Perfect your marketing execution so you consistently meet and exceed your goals
  • And much more!

You’ll also receive a bonus resource: my list of over 40 Free Marketing Resources that can help you make the most of your marketing budget.

To start getting these useful and fun marketing tips AND your bonus FREE Marketing Resources,
go here –> Get Magnetic Marketing Tips now!

Posted in B2B marketing, Business, Marketing, marketing newsletter, Marketing Strategy, Professional service firm marketing, small business | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Here’s How to Grow in 2014

Posted by advantagemarketing on January 6, 2014

Marketing in 2014

Here are some tips to help you stick to your marketing plan and grow your company in 2014.

Don’t ring in the New Year without a marketing plan in place that will help you grow your company. At Advantage Marketing, we’ve been working with clients who are deep into planning for 2014. Here’s some of the advice we’re sharing with them so that they stay on track:

Don’t look for quick fixes. First and foremost, recognize that growth doesn’t come from quick fixes. You’re better off relying on tested and effective marketing tactics to put prospects in your pipeline. For example, one of our clients is planning quarterly sales and marketing campaigns that include direct mail blasts plus email and phone follow-up with prospects. Such an organized, methodical approach is going to result in real business growth over the entire year.

Make a real commitment. The marketing and business development efforts you implement will take time and effort and therefore a long-term commitment. We advise our clients that if they are truly committed and stick to their plan, growth WILL happen!

Ask for client input. In the book The Pumpkin Plan, author Mike Michalowicz talks about the “Wish List”.  It’s not your wish list, but your clients’. Mike has a sneakily effective way to tease it out of them: ask your clients questions about the industry not about your company. Wish List questions you can ask include: What is most confusing about my industry? What frustrates you about vendors in my industry? What do you wish we would do differently? Listen closely to the answers and you will identify golden opportunities for your company.

Build on successes. Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, say that when it comes to change, we’ll tend to ask, “What’s the problem and how do I fix it?” But often we can benefit more by asking a different question: “What’s working and how can I do more of it?” In other words, we can learn from our own “bright spots.” What bright spots did your marketing have in 2013? How can you build on them?

Focus, focus, focus. As business owners, we multitask way too often, to the point where we may think it’s a luxury to do just one thing at a time. But in reality, you’re not getting more done by trying to switch between tasks frequently. In fact, you’re probably making more mistakes. Studies have estimated that multitasking can cause your productivity to drop by 40%! Instead of driving yourself crazy, set up your day so that you are doing similar tasks at the same time. For instance, set aside time in the morning and afternoon to focus on email. Ignore it the rest of the time, and you will find your productivity increasing and your frustration decreasing.

Don’t spread your efforts too thin. If your company is just starting on social media and you’re updating your website and running email and direct mail campaigns, then adding more marketing tactics – having a booth at the industry’s big trade show, for instance – can actually derail your overall marketing efforts. Wait until you have the website finished and your campaigns are running smoothly before you add one more thing.

 Stay accountable. Track your hits and misses and share them with your team. Brainstorm about why a particular tactic didn’t work, so that you can improve. For instance, if your direct mail or email campaign is not getting a good response, have team members evaluate the campaign’s copy and call-to-action, as well as the mailing lists used. Each of these factors can influence your response rate and can be tweaked or overhauled as necessary for the next campaign.

Celebrate often. All work and no play can lead to a dispirited and unmotivated team. Make a habit of recognizing and celebrating successes both big and small. This goes a long way to keeping your marketing efforts on track and your team motivated to succeed. The rewards don’t have to be huge. One HVAC contractor we know tracks successes on a big blackboard in the break room. It has become a badge of honor among employees to have your name up on that board.

What are you doing to grow your company in 2014? Share it with us in the Comments section below.

Do you need help ramping up your firm’s marketing for growth? Let’s talk! Sign up for a complimentary marketing assessment to get started.

Posted in B2B marketing, Business, Consulting, Email marketing, Marketing, Marketing budget, Marketing plans, Marketing Strategy, Professional service firm marketing, small business, Traditional marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

5 Simple Rules for Building a Marketing Plan

Posted by advantagemarketing on September 13, 2012

5 marketing plan rules

Follow these 5 simple rules for creating a successful marketing plan

Your marketing plan is the Holy Grail for getting prospects to KNOW, LIKE and TRUST you, and then TRY your product or service. Creating a plan may sound complicated – but don’t panic. These 5 simple rules can help you create one that leads to your marketing success:

Rule #1: Put it in writing. This may be hard – maybe you’d prefer to talk through it instead. In which case, get someone to listen and write while you talk. The point here is – if it’s in writing, you have a clearer picture of what you must do. You will also be more likely to follow through.

Rule #2: Keep it simple. A simple 2-page written plan that is executed with excellence will outperform a detailed, but poorly executed plan every time.

Rule #3: Seek input from others. There are two types of people you must to talk to. First, talk to your best customers – ask them: What made you decide to hire us or buy from us? What is one thing we do better? What could we do better? Would you refer us? This is all important input to your marketing plan. Second, talk to a trusted advisor who knows you – and understands your industry. This is a person who can help you develop and fine-tune your offerings based on the input from your customers.

Rule #4: Schedule your tactics. Set up a marketing calendar and budget so that you know each quarter what you need to get done. Then you don’t have to think – you just have to do.

Rule #5: Execute. Follow the schedule you set up. Professional marketers know that it’s also important for you to evaluate what you did, so that you learn what was effective. Then it is simple to do more of what worked and less of what didn’t.

Don’t miss next week’s post: 7 Marketing Plan Must-Haves

Need help with your marketing? Request a complimentary marketing assessment from the experts at Advantage Marketing. Visit

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Posted in B2B marketing, Business, Marketing, Marketing plans, Marketing Strategy, small business, Traditional marketing | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

13 Ways to Level Up Your Marketing in 2011

Posted by advantagemarketing on January 4, 2011

Use these 13 ideas to help strengthen your marketing program in 2011

By Loraine Kasprzak, MBA

Is your same-old marketing getting the same old results? Here are the some of the ideas I’m sharing with Advantage Marketing clients to help them build a stronger marketing program in 2011:

  1. Revisit your value proposition. Times have changed and what you offer your clients may have changed as well. Does your written value proposition reflect these changes? Don’t have a value proposition? Create one! Nailing down this messaging will help you focus your marketing efforts and better communicate with customers.
  2. Discard what isn’t working. Set aside some time now to review what did and didn’t work in your 2010 marketing program. What could you have done better? What wasn’t a good fit for your firm? Consider ditching what didn’t show a return for your company and reallocating those budget dollars to more effective tactics.
  3. Reach out and listen to your customers. Feedback from your customers can be critical to uncovering the next opportunity for your company. Starting this quarter, make it a point to call several customers to ask how you are doing.
  4. Remember problems = opportunities. If you are asking for honest customer feedback, you’re going to hear about the bad as well as the good. Act on feedback and let your customers know what you’ve done. This can improve relationships and help you uncover opportunities for new products, services or processes.
  5. Get active in social marketing. If you are not at least on the social media sites that are relevant to your target audiences, then you are missing the boat. An easy way to start getting connected is through the industry and trade associations in which you have memberships. You  can also check out this Twitter post.
  6. Generate news consistently. Having a presence in local and online media can firm up your position as the brand leader in your industry. Not sure what to write about? Pick something that is related to your area of expertise and is of value to your audience. For example, an IT client of mine sends out press releases about their participation in industry conferences.
  7. Work with associations. Many of my clients are members of professional or trade associations that reach audiences who are prime targets for their services. These associations are always looking for sponsors for their websites, meetings, conferences, and webinars. Evaluate your trade and industry associations and consider investing a portion of your marketing budget in marketing through them if they have the right audiences for you.
  8. Commit to continuous learning. When you’re running your business day-to-day, the latest trends and advances in your industry can pass you by. Take advantage of your association memberships by attending face-to-face or virtual conferences to learn about industry trends, technologies and best practices. Commit to attending at least one webinar, industry meeting or conference quarterly. Then take your learning one step further by using what you learned to develop and market new products and services.
  9. Get out of your office. Make it a point to get out of your office a least once a month and meet a client or colleague for coffee. Focus on learning more about the other person’s business challenges. You’ll come away with a fresh perspective and it may help you uncover opportunities for your own company.
  10. Learn about SEO. If you do any marketing at all through your website – and who doesn’t these days? – then you need to understand how and why search engines like Google find your site, and what you can do to improve how easily your site is found.  Investing the time and effort to understand the basics of search engine optimization, or SEO, will help you develop meaningful content for your website – content that is picked up by search engines. A good source of SEO info for both beginner and expert is Search Engine Land. Check out the site’s How To articles.
  11. Clean up your website. Your company’s website can get cluttered over time, making it difficult for visitors to navigate easily. Content also gets stale, making it less likely that visitors will stay on your site or return again. Review your site pages and get rid of or revise content that is no longer relevant. Consider adding a blog to provide site visitors with valuable insights and information about your products or services. For more about creating engaging content for websites and blogs see my 15 Tips for Creating Content post.
  12. Manage your lists. When was the last time you updated your email or direct mail lists? List quality can mean the success or failure of marketing campaigns, so take the time to purge old names. You’ll also want to put a plan in place for acquiring permission-based contacts, whether from a list rental, Google Ad campaign or other sources.
  13. Add video. It may be hard to believe that YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google. But video is here to stay and can be a major source of referrals to your website. By putting up videos, says Tim Ferriss, an angel investor and New York Times bestselling author, you open up a whole new channel for sharing and connecting to the biggest word-of-mouth platform in the English language.

What’s next?

Continue the discussion. What are you doing to improve your marketing in 2011? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section.

Get more information. Check out more of The Marketing Advantage blog and visit the rest of the Advantage Marketing website to learn about the marketing communications and social media services we offer.

Posted in Business, Marketing, Marketing plans, Marketing Strategy, Professional service firm marketing | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

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