By Michael Gavin
Whether you're an established ISO or a new merchant level salesperson, marketing your business and yourself is critical to your success. Marketing is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.
Typically marketing professionals will reference the four P's and use them as the basis for their marketing plans: Product (solution); Promotion (information); Price (value); and Place (access).
As a sales professional, you might be daunted by the task of creating a marketing plan. Don't be. Just keep it simple. Remember, the plan is designed to make you strategize in advance and create a road map – and to hold you accountable
Liken it to setting goals. It's been proven that individuals who don't write down their goals don't typically achieve them. An accountability factor is inherent in putting pen to paper. The same applies to the marketing plan. Myriad resources on the Internet can help guide you through the process. If you search for "writing a marketing plan" a 2010 Inc. magazine article will be one of the top hits. I recommend that, as well as the free tools available from MarketingProfs.
Once you have a marketing plan in place, you're ready to go. If you are inexperienced in marketing and lack the financial resources to hire a full-time professional, online tools and resources can help you execute your plan.
One of the must-haves for anyone in business is a great website. Ten years ago, this would have required a significant financial investment. Today, a variety of free or low-cost, easy-to-use online development and hosting resources enable users to build professional looking websites in just weeks. A few standouts include Wordpress (www.wordpress.com); Google Sites (http://sites.google.com); Wix (www.wix.com); and Weebly (www.weebly.com).
These work well for brochure-type sites containing primarily content about you, your business, your offerings, your differentiation, etc. However, if you're looking for web specialists that offer online sales, check out Shopify (www.shopify.com); Prestashop (www.prestashop.com); and Magento (magento.com).
It's always best to research thoroughly and select resources that meet your specific needs. Regardless of which program you choose for your website, take advantage of Google Analytics (www.google.com/analytics), a free service Google Inc. provides, no matter where you host your site or which platform you use for development. Google Analytics provides insights on your online visitors, where they come from, how they interact with your site and what information they find most valuable. It's incredibly robust, free, and easy to add to any website.
Email marketing is likely another tool you will need to execute your marketing plan. As with website creation and hosting, numerous high-quality email marketing tools are available. From the largest of the large – ExactTarget (owned by Salesforce.com), Eloqua (an Oracle company) and Marketo – to the smallest of the small, there's something to fit everyone's needs and budget.
Several specifically cater to the small and midsize business including:
MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com): free and low-cost versions, user-friendly site, simple templates Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com): low cost service; myriad templates with customization capability; easy to use offerings; ancillary options – including surveys, event management and offers iContact (www.icontact.com): affordable options, simple templates, drag-and-drop email creation tools, contact management Vertical Response (www.verticalresponse.com): affordable pricing options; easy to use offerings; full suite of email, social media and event marketing tools
And, there's so much more, especially in the world of social media, with free (and paid) marketing opportunities on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. I will cover these in more detail in an upcoming issue of this publication.
So, have an attainable plan. Start small. Take advantage of online resources. Have fun. And remember. You can recommend, or even resell, the tools to your customers as well.
As Merchant Warehouse Senior Vice President, Sales, Michael Gavin is responsible for day-to-day management of the company's direct sales, as well as leadership of all sales activities within the company's agent channel. He has served as a key leader within the organization since joining the company in late 2000. Merchant Warehouse's Genius Customer Engagement Platform is a single, intuitive platform that integrates every transaction technology, loyalty program and more. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the company, visit http://merchantwarehouse.com.
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