There’s a difference between a solid marketing system and a mediocre plan that you rely on in the hope that it will attract your target audience. When you’re wishing and hoping things will work out, you can be sure strategy is missing from the equation.

Small business owners must make their marketing efforts pay off. While it’s true that testing is always a part of developing a successful system of any type, you need to be intentional and strategic about what you test when validating your marketing system. The small businesses that are throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks aren’t going to be around for long.

What you test, when, and how should be determined by applying strategy to your process, not just guessing.

Traditional Marketing System Versus Online Marketing System

We work with female online coaches, consultants, and service providers who happen to be over forty. Because of that, this article focuses on developing an online marketing system. We do not cover traditional marketing systems, which is any form of marketing that uses offline media to reach an audience.

The Power Of A Content Strategy

To ensure the work you’re putting into marketing your business will pay off, begin with a content strategy. Your content strategy will take into consideration things such as your business objectives and your marketing channels. Two of the most popular marketing channels are social media and email marketing. Blogging, vlogging, and podcasts can all be leveraged within these two channels to attract and nurture your target audience.

Knowing which marketing channels are most popular is only the beginning. As with everything in marketing, you need to make sure the channels you use, the words used in your messaging, and the offers your marketing lead to are exactly what your target audience wants. Skipping this critical factor is the biggest mistake small business owners make when developing a marketing system.

The difference between a solid marketing system and a mediocre marketing plan is the degree to which it meets your target audience’s needs. This can’t be overstated!

Your content strategy needs to be developed to speak directly to your ideal client so that your content attracts more of the right people - not just any people. The most effective way to determine what your ideal client wants is to ask them. Creating a system for collecting ideal client language so that it’s a repeatable process for data collection is the way to go.

When working with clients, make sure to survey them before, during, and after you’ve delivered your service. The words they use to describe what they’re struggling with, what they hope to accomplish by working with you, and then how your service helped them are pure marketing gold.

To make sure you’ve got your finger on the pulse of what’s true for your target audience at any given time, you also want to make sure you schedule connection calls with people regularly. World events, local disasters, and personal wins and losses affect people at all times. If you’re proactively connecting with new prospects and entering into discussions with them, you’ll be able to easily identify trends that your messaging can speak to, further solidifying yourself as the person who understands them best.

Once you know where your target audience consumes content and what matters most to them, you’re ready to develop a winning content strategy.

The Marketing Methodology Workshop

A Simple and Easy FRAMEWORK

How would it feel to ditch the marketing overwhelm so you can spend your precious time growing your business?

Build out your custom marketing framework and create a simple-to-follow system to achieve your business goals in three easy steps.

How to Create A Marketing Calendar

A marketing calendar is where you’ll map out your valuable content. From marketing campaigns designed to lead to a sale to content designed to attract and nurture, your marketing calendar will become an invaluable resource. Even if you’re going to use scheduling software like Zoho Social, Hootsuite, Coschedule, or Meet Edgar, we recommend creating an in-house marketing calendar that houses all of your content. This allows you to keep everything in one place and provides a backup in case something goes wrong with technology - if something’s going to go wrong, it’s going to happen at the most inconvenient time!

During our Marketing Methodology Workshop, we provide a Google Sheets content calendar template for all of our workshop attendees to use. If spreadsheets aren’t your thing, no worries; simply use our template as an example of what to include in yours. Some basic categories to consider are:

Time Frame

Our Content Grid is designed to hold content for one quarter at a time. This is handy because once you’ve filled out four of them, you’ve got an entire year’s worth of content ready for you to reuse and repurpose. Time frames to consider adding are:

  • Month
  • Week
  • Day
  • Time (if applicable)
  • Special promotions - do you have a promotional period before an upcoming launch? Make sure you include those marketing campaigns in your content calendar.

Social Platform

You’ll want to list where each piece of content is going to be posted and alter the formatting as needed to conform to the platform in question. This is another reason having your internal content calendar is recommended. You can create tabs specific to each platform which is an effective way to keep everything organized.

Team Member

You’ll want to list where each piece of content is going to be posted and alter the formatting as needed to conform to the platform in question. This is another reason having your internal content calendar is recommended. You can create tabs specific to each platform which is an effective way to keep everything organized.

Topic Category

We use and teach our clients and workshop attendees to use topic categories as a way of organizing their content. Identifying 5 - 7 industry-specific topic categories as the main buckets that all of your content falls into allows you to create focus weeks or months where you’ll create content around a specific topic or theme.

Call to Action (CTA)

Every piece of content should have a call to action! This does not mean that we’re asking for a sale on every piece of content. Calls to action can be anything from:

  • Referring to a past or future post, video, or podcast episode to allow your target audience to go deeper on the topic.
  • Asking a question that people can reply to in the comments.
  • Asking for a follow, like, comment, or for people to subscribe (to your podcast, for example).
  • Dropping a link to your landing or sales page and asking them to visit/purchase/register, etc..
  • Asking them to book a connection or consultation call.

We recommend that you keep a list of all of the calls to action that pertain to your business and include them in your content calendar. This allows you to rotate CTA’s while ensuring there is always one added to every piece of your content.

Attract Ideal Potential Customers & Partners

Understanding how to attract ideal potential customers gives you complete control over your marketing opportunities. When you don’t understand how to attract your ideal prospects, you’ll be hard-pressed to be able to identify the right marketing opportunities to leverage. 

For example, joint ventures are an effective way to expand your reach and visibility. The right joint venture can turn into a great value-added partnership that you leverage time and time again. In order for that to happen, you need to be able to identify a potential JV partner who serves your ideal prospects. If you still aren’t clear on who they are, entering into a partnership, whether formal or informal, will be difficult.

As mentioned above, the best way to hone in on your ideal client is to get into discussions with them. If need help, we recommend following this guide to create your ideal client avatar profile.

We mention joint ventures above, but we don’t enter into formal joint venture agreements. What we do instead is identify referral partners and collaboration partners to work with. 

Leveraging Referral Partners In Your Marketing System

For many business owners, referrals are their main source of new clients. Whether that’s the case for you or not, referral partners can and should be a part of your marketing strategy. In order for people to feel comfortable referring people to your business, they will need a thorough understanding of who you help and how you help them. Testimonials of past clients or customers will help, too.

It may seem like an easy ask to invite someone to refer others to you, but when someone vouches for you, they’re staking their reputation on the fact that you’ll do right by the person they referred. Taking that into consideration, it’s easy to understand that your marketing system and strategy perform the double duty of not only attracting the right prospects but building trust in your business with others as well.

You can cultivate referral partners from:

  • Former Clients
  • Your Email List
  • Your Collaboration Partners

Whether you decide to develop a formal affiliate partnership or referral agreement and pay commissions for new clients that come from referrals, you refer back and forth with your referral partners, or you simply benefit from providing such a great service that referrals come in on auto-pilot, neglecting to add this element into your marketing strategy would be a mistake.

Increase Your Reach & Visibility With Collaboration Partners

A great way to bring in more clients in less time and with less work is to increase your visibility by working with collaboration partners to get in front of each other’s audience. There are several ways you can leverage this type of partnership:

  • Social Media Swaps 
  • Podcast Swaps
  • Blog Swap
  • Email Swaps
  • Participate in Events

For all of the swaps listed above, the idea is that you feature your collaboration partner on your social media channel or group, podcast, blog, or email, and they return the favor by featuring you on theirs. The person being featured promotes that they will be featured, when, and where to increase attendance. Not only is this powerful, but it’s a lot of fun. We do this a lot, and it’s a great way to nurture relationships with people we admire in our industry.

Examples of events you can participate in are:

  • Summits
  • In-Person Events
  • Retreats
  • Online Giveaways

When you’re a featured speaker at an event, you gain exposure to all of the other featured speakers' audiences. It’s a great way to meet some new potential collaboration partners who, if they can’t be considered formal business partners, are, at the very least, partners in business.

It Takes A Solid Marketing System To Make It To The Sales Call

Your marketing system is more than just a set of procedures you use to increase sales. It’s the backbone of your organization. It’s a living, breathing system that expands and contracts and shifts as your industry and your ideal client’s needs change. It’s the system you use to get your marketing message out to the world, and it’s also the vehicle through which you distribute valuable content that can and should do the heavy lifting for you. The sales call becomes a formality when you’ve got your marketing strategy dialed in. 

Join us for the Marketing Methodology Workshop, where we’ll help you begin designing your marketing system.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison

About the author

Carmen Reed-Gilkison is a certified Online Business Manager and Whole Person Certified Coach with 25+ years of marketing experience.

Deirdre Harter is a Certified Public Accountant with 20+ years of experience auditing and advising businesses of all sizes about how to build sustainable profitability in their companies.

They are also the co-founders of Encore Empire. Click here to learn more about their mission to help female entrepreneurs who happen to be over forty step into their power

To send a message to Carmen and Deirdre, click here

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