Nearly half of all small and midsize businesses in the U.S. fail by their fifth year of operation. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 30 percent survive ten years or more. Shocking? Not really. Just because you have a good idea doesn't always mean you know how to find your customers and sell your product or service or how to adapt to changing customer preferences and market demands.
Throughout my nearly 30 years in marketing, I've managed multi-million dollar P&Ls and global marketing teams as well as midsize communications firms like Hawthorne Strategy Group. And I've learned from a variety of experiences, both challenging and not, that marketing strategy is crucial to avoiding the misery and ignominy of failure.
Considering limited resources and a need for speed, the following are streamlined marketing steps that can help take your company from idea to action:
- Know Yourself
Identify your company's unique selling points that differentiate you from the competition. Make that point of difference your mantra and your elevator speech.
- Know Your Customer
Understand your target audience to anticipate exactly when and why they will need your product or service and what action they will take to get it.
- Know Your Numbers
Set measurable and actionable marketing objectives that directly support your business objectives.
- Know Where and How
Identify marketing channels and tactics to reach your target most effectively. In other words, communicate in ways your target expects and wants.
- Know When to Change
Evaluate constantly. Eliminate what doesn't work and improve on what does.
These steps aren't meant to replace a thoughtful, well-researched approach to marketing planning for your company in the long term. As your business evolves and grows, your marketing approach should evolve and grow, too. But to get to market fast and start generating income to fuel that growth, these steps will help ensure your business lives and thrives beyond the dreaded five-year death.