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Do you have a marketing strategy for your training business? Have you defined what you want your business to achieve in the short-, medium- and long-term, or are you winging it from one day to the next?
It’s surprising how many small businesses function without a marketing strategy, and yet taking the time to decide how and where you’re going to market your training business could save you time and money that would be more profitable elsewhere. Without a marketing strategy, the chances are that your marketing activities will be haphazard and inconsistent, rather than targeted and effective.
Of course, knowing that you need a marketing strategy and knowing where to start with creating one are two different things.
Five crucial questions
Before formulating a marketing strategy, you need to make sure it’s based on solid foundations. What do I mean by this? Well, before you can decide how to approach your marketing, you need to understand who your customers are, what their needs are, and how your business can address those needs.
I would recommend asking these five crucial questions:
- Who is your target customer (including their wants and needs)?
- What category does your business fit in?
- What is your unique benefit or unique selling point (USP) in terms of how it meets your customers’ needs?
- Who is your main competition?
- How are you clearly different from your competitors?
The answers to these questions will help to give you focus. One method I use to determine my marketing strategy for the next three to six months is to insert these answers into a kind of mission statement:
<Company name> is the leading <category> business for <target customers> that provides <unique benefit>. Unlike <competitors>, <your company> does <this unique thing to meet customers’ needs>.
This one statement reflects your key marketing statement and the central focus of your marketing. It’s a technique that works for on and offline marketing, and you can revise the statement every three to six months if your training business changes direction slightly.
The reason I recommend three to six months is because this is how long it can take to see the results of your marketing activities.
Identify your strengths and weaknesses
You’ve no doubt heard of a SWOT analysis, which has long been a favourite tool for creating business and marketing strategies. A SWOT analysis is powerful because it helps you pinpoint your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats at a glance, and decide how to prioritise them within your marketing strategy.
A typical SWOT analysis worksheet looks like this:
Take some time out of your schedule to complete a SWOT analysis every six months or so. Your aim should be to create a marketing strategy that makes the most of your strengths and matches them to the needs of your most important audience group. If, for example, you would like to attract more contracts from professional service firms, your marketing might highlight your experiences and clients within this sector and the difference the training you deliver has made to these clients.
Building on your marketing strategy foundation
Once you have created this initial foundation, you can begin to develop an effective marketing strategy. Your next step is to decide on the best marketing activity/activities to reach your target audience.
This might include advertising (including ads on social media), social media pages, direct mail campaigns, email campaigns, newsletters, exhibitions, PR initiatives, point of sale activity, and much more.
It’s best to concentrate on one or two campaigns or marketing initiatives at a time. Remember to track your campaigns and collect as much data as possible. For example, if you run a Facebook ad, how many people click through to your website from it and how many of those clicks convert into enquiries?
By measuring the performance of each marketing activity, you can gain a good understanding of:
- conversion rates (e.g. how many website visitors become paying customers)
- return on investment (ROI)
- costs of acquiring a new customer
This can help you decide where to spend your marketing budget in the future and shape the ongoing development of your marketing strategy, which should change over time to reflect the changing needs of your customers, the sector in which you operate, and your business.
Do you have a marketing strategy? How often do you refer back to it? Or is creating a marketing strategy on your to-do list? I’d love to hear your experiences in the Comments section below.