The Indy 500 is billed as the “greatest spectacle in racing." The beginning is always dramatic as the audience goes wild when it hears, “Gentlemen... start your engines!” These four words announce the start of something big.
Putting together a promotion plan is the start of something big, too. It means planning a well-thought-out sequence of events leading to a desired outcome for your business, product or service.
When done right, a promotion plan helps you focus on your market, streamline your advertising activities, and ensure that you portray a consistent, high quality image in the business world.
But when done wrong, a promotion plan will drain you of human and financial resources.
If a promotion plan can do so much, why aren’t more women-owned businesses taking the time to write one?
Here are the top five reasons women business owners put off writing promotion plans:
1. They aren’t comfortable promoting.
Women think there is something wrong with promoting their businesses. They see promoting the products and services of their business as promoting themselves. And they consider promoting themselves poor form.
2. They don’t know who their market is.
Often, women don’t take the time to really know who their niche market is. Identifying and knowing how to reach the kind of people who would be most interested in their products or services, however, is critical to their business success.
3. They’re in too much of a rush to get out there and make money.
Thinking they will get around to it later, when they’re not so busy, many women business owners simply don’t take the time to come up with a clear and compelling vision for their business. This makes it difficult to put together an effective promotion plan.
4. They don’t know what they can do to promote themselves.
With so many possibilities to consider, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and confused about what’s best and where to start. This is why it’s important that women not rush to get a product or service out there. This will give them the time they need to thoughtfully consider the best ways to promote their businesses.
5. They don’t have much money to spend.
Starting up a business and growing it takes money. Many women business owners either don’t have much money to spend on promotion or don’t understand the value in allocating resources to do so.
If you have been putting off doing your promotion plan, here are some ideas to get you started.
7 Affordable Things You Can Do to Jump-start Your Promotion Plan
1. In 25 words or less, identify and describe the number one thing you want your prospects to know about what you do and how it will benefit them.
2. Come up with a unique sales proposition that is clear, concise and compelling.
3. Call or e-mail everyone you know and bring them up-to-date on what you are doing. Leave no family member, friend, colleague or customer in the dark.
4. Put together an inventory of of up to 10 well-written articles, reports or tips sheets that address a specific solution to your target market’s challenge. Aim to inform and educate, rather than sell.
5. Build your 30-mile sphere of influence list. Record the name, contact person, address, e-mail, phone number and website of every business, organization, and media outlet that would be beneficial to your promotion plan.
6. Join a professional business networking organization, and go to the meetings.
7. My favorite: Have lots of one-on-one breakfasts throughout the year. As Business Growth Strategies founder Jim McCraigh says, “Breakfast means business.”
One of the most significant things you can do for your business success is develop a promotion plan. A promotion plan covers all phases of communication between you and your potential customers. It is especially useful when you are rolling out a new product, establishing or changing your company image, or want to promote special services or events. A promotion plan can do many things for you, including positioning you as an expert and leader in your industry, cultivating new markets, and enhancing your reputation.
So, what are you waiting for? Ladies… start your engines!
Dr. Susan L. Reid is a business coach and consultant for entrepreneurial women starting businesses. She is the award-winning author of “Discovering Your Inner Samurai: The Entrepreneurial Woman’s Journey to Business Success,” and has a free chapter PDF of her most popular chapter: “Doing What You Love: Multiple Streams of Passion” for those who want see how persistence, patience and practice can really pay off.