Being a ski instructor is a great job: it’s personally rewarding, it keeps me in physical shape and I get to do what I love, all day long. The only downside? I don’t get to do it all year long.
As my season came to a close, I realized that it was time to get serious about my business. Until now, I’ve mostly relied on word-of-mouth advertising here in Aspen and letting clients come to me. I also realized that my old website, while functional for my start-up purposes, no longer accurately reflected my services. I had a great winter season, but it was time for some spring cleaning.
So I completely redesigned my website. I deleted the services that hadn’t proven marketable and added services that, while not in my original business plan, cater to a need expressed by most of my clients. Out with the old, and in with the new.
At first I was concerned about this total revamp. I had worked hard to create an image for my company, or so I thought. But had I, really? Sure, I had a website and business cards. And I was constantly attending webinars and local business seminars to be an even more informed source for my clients. But was I taking my own advice? Not really.
So here it is, the advice package that I didn’t follow during the ski season. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be giving updates on the progress of my Marketing Makeover so you can follow along. You’ll get the inside scoop on what works and what you should skip. And of course, I’d love to swap stories and hear about your own successes.
- Have a written marketing plan. I’m always happy to write business and marketing plans for others, but somehow always had an excuse for why I didn’t have time to write my own. Big mistake. I’m not finished with it yet, but having a written marketing plan has already demonstrated its value. It has forced me to sit down and really get to know my ideal client, which in turn has helped me figure out the best way to reach out to him or her. It’s also gotten the creative juices flowing for social networking opportunities and future events. By writing it all down in a timetable, I’ve created not only a plan, but a domino effect: even as I write the details for one idea, it usually inspires another.
- Nail down the geographics. It’s easy for business owners to say that they want to expand their businesses, but to where, exactly? Creating a physical map pinpointing where you want to do business now and later is a crucial step in making that expansion a reality. Once you can look at your future expansion, it will motivate you to learn all you can about those places: the demographics of the people living there, the local culture, the local media… everything!
- Get your books in order. All of these new plans you’ve been making are far more likely to succeed because they are well researched and written down. But they’re all going to cost money, which means you’re going to have to have a realistic budget. There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of launching a marketing stunt only to realize that you’re going to run out of funds before pulling it off. If the financial side of running a business makes you squeamish, outsource it. Get your EIN (employee identification number) if you don’t have one and hire an accountant. Or check out my favorite resource, Corporate Tax Network. Instead of having just one financial adviser, I have access to an entire network of them, 365 days a year.
- Identify potential partners. No matter how good you are, marketing is not a one-person job. It relies on your ability tonetwork with others. So decide with whom you want to network, what you want from the relationship and what you can offer in that relationship.
So that’s it. Seemingly simple. Now for the final ingredient to ensure a Marketing Makeover: follow through. I’ll unveil my makeover incrementally over the next few weeks. It’s scary undergoing a makeover — feedback helps!
Looking forward to your success story,
Have an issue you want addressed? Leave me a comment with your suggestion, and I’ll tackle it on my next blog entry!