Ethical marketing strategist Lynn Serafinn offers a step-by-step guide to the ‘Where, When and How’ of your annual business plan. Part 4 of a 4-part series.
In my last three articles, I’ve been talking about why business owners should take time at least once a year to re-examine their business and marketing strategies. Throughout this series, I’ve been using six fundamental questions to help us delve into the matter:
In Part 1, we looked at ‘WHO?’, exploring things like: Who are you and your company? Who are your customers and clients? Who are your partners, collaborators and support network? You can find Part 1 by clicking here.
In Part 2, we looked at ‘WHAT?’, asking the questions: What do you WANT? What do you OFFER? And what ELSE could you offer? We also looked at the ‘What?’ of money, and how it’s often a difficult subject for business owners to think about. Click to read Part 2.
Last time, in Part 3, we looked at the question, ‘WHY?’ We looked at the ‘Why?’ and also the ‘Why BOTHER?’ of your business. We asked ‘Why does the WORLD need what your company does?’ and I offered two hypothetical scenarios for how that might play out in practice. If you’d like to read Part 3, click HERE.
Today, in this final part of the series, we’re going to take on the remaining three questions:
‘WHERE?’ ‘WHEN?’ and ‘HOW?’
In reading through these, remember that when I use the term ‘business offers’, I am referring to the products and/or services you deliver to your customers/clients.
Defining the ‘WHERE?’ and ‘WHEN?’ of Your Business Offers
Once you’re really clear on the ‘Who?’, ‘What?’ and ‘Why?’ of your business, the next step is to look at the ‘Where?’ and ‘When?’. When we talk about your business offers, these two questions need to be asked in conjunction. In the past, all business was conducted in real-time and face-to-face. If you were selling bread, someone came to your shop and bought it. If you were a doctor, either you made house calls to visit your patients or they came to your practice to be treated by you. But these days, the choices for where and when we will deliver our business offers are much more varied:
- You might sell digital or physical products on your website OR on third-party sites like eBay or Amazon OR both.
- You might deliver private sessions with clients or patients in your office OR over the phone/Skype OR both.
- You might deliver group training or coaching in real-time in person OR via a telephone conference line, Google Hangouts or Instant Teleseminar.*
- You might deliver pre-recorded training through your own membership site OR through a third-party educational/training site.
- You might (as most of my clients do nowadays) deliver a combination of the above.
* Transparency: that is my affiliate link for Instant Teleseminar; I have used them for several years for all my webinars, courses, telesummits, etc.
The ‘Where?’ and ‘When?’ of your business offers are the major determining factors in your marketing strategy. Only after you have defined these can you go on to answer other critical questions, such as:
WHERE are your clients/customers?
Your marketing will vary significantly depending on where your customers are located. If your business offers can only be delivered in a specific location, for example, your customer base will delineated by geography. However, if your business offers can be delivered remotely, it can open up a much broader potential audience. Each of these types of audiences requires a different approach to marketing. Many new clients come to me because they have attained little success with their online marketing. When I dig more deeply, I often learn they are working with geographically defined client bases. What needs to happen in such a case is: a) we devise a different marketing strategy that specifically reaches people in their geographic area OR; b) we create new product lines that expand the boundaries of their potential audience OR; c) both a and b.
WHEN do you want to do WHAT during the week?
This might seem like a silly question to some. Businesses are ‘supposed’ to work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, right? Well, that might work if you have a ‘job job’, but not if you’re a sole trader running your own business. For example, I only meet with clients on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, between the hours of 2-8pm UK time. Those might seem like really strange working hours, but this arrangement is absolutely crucial to my being able to deliver my services and run my business properly. I know the majority of my clients are in the United States. If I stuck to a 9 to 5 regime, it would make it almost impossible for my west-coast clients to work with me. Also, it means I can use the mornings for writing – not just my own books and articles, but all the marketing copy my clients hire me to write for them (and there’s a lot of it!). Lastly, it allows me to use Mondays and Friday to work on product development, billing, bookkeeping or other operational work. It also gives me the freedom to take those days off or to work on an entirely different project (right now I use many of my Fridays to work on my family history research). Saying, ‘We are open for business during the traditional work week,’ without defining WHAT you will do WHEN is a guaranteed formula for leaving you feeling over-worked and under-paid. It will also leave you wide open to allowing your customers and clients to define how you run your business (and your life!).
WHERE are your partners and WHERE is their audience?
In Part 1 of this series, I asked the question, ‘Who are your partners/collaborators/support network?’ Equally important is knowing WHERE you can find them. Do they come from a local MeetUp or business network? Do they come from a Facebook group or Twitter following? Do they come from a mastermind group to which you belong? But knowing where your partners ‘hang out’ and where you can develop rapport with them is only one half the question. You also need to know where THEIR audience is. If all your potential partners are geographically based, but you are planning an online promotion (or vice versa), there is a mismatch between your partners and what you can mutually offer one another.
WHERE will your marketing connect all of the above?
Only after you have explored the previous questions can you join all the dots together and create a marketing strategy. WHERE will this marketing ‘live’? Will your marketing focus on email announcements? Social media? SEO/Google AdWords? Blog tours? Article marketing? Will it be supported through a local network? Print advertising? A speaking/radio tour? An affiliate programme? In choosing this ‘WHERE’, be sure you ask yourself:
How does my marketing strategy connect ALL
the ‘who, what, why, when and where’ elements
I have already defined?
Why ‘HOW?’ Is the LAST Thing You Should Ask
Knowing how you’re going to put a plan into action is the only way you’ll ever get it done. However, in my experience, most people ask, ‘How?’ at totally the wrong time. They say things like, ‘I’d really love to do such-and-such, BUT I have no idea how.‘ It’s like someone shutting a door in their face. The great monster called ‘I don’t know how’ is probably the biggest impediment to our being able to think creatively and expansively.
This is why it is essential to go through ALL your ‘who, what, when, where and why’ questions before you permit yourself to ask, ‘How?’ By then, you will already have an emotional investment in the idea and the ‘I don’t know how’ will not have nearly as much potency. Instead of it stopping you dead in your tracks, you will look for solutions – or get help from others – that can begin to put all the ‘hows’ in place.
We’ve now completed our look at the six questions every business owner should ask once a year. I hope this series has helped you to start thinking about your business and where you want to take it over the next year.
The ideas I’ve been sharing are inspired by the work I do with my clients. If you’re an independent business owner looking develop the ‘who, what, when, where, why and how’ of your business and marketing, I invite you to explore our 7 Graces Business & Marketing Strategy Packages:
- Our 7-Week Business START-UP Package – for people with a seed idea for a new business, but who have little or no experience running their own business.
- Our 13-Week BRANDING & Copywriting Package – for people with some business experience who either want to solidify their brand OR change their brand direction.
- Our 13-Week PLATFORM BUILDING & Growth Package – for established business owners who want to build their online presence, increase their blog traffic and grow their Twitter following. This can also be used in combination with one of our product development packages.
- Our 13-Week FOUNDATIONAL Product Development & Copywriting Package – for experienced business owners with well-defined platforms who want to develop a new ‘signature’ product line, including pricing structure AND have professional marketing copy made for it.
- Our 26-Week (6-month) COMPREHENSIVE Product Development & Copywriting Package – for experienced business owners with well-defined platforms who want to develop a range of new products, including pricing and copywriting, PLUS explore long-term marketing plans and collaborative partnerships.
- AUTHOR services – we also have a variety of services just for authors, including full-service Amazon book launches, wholesale copywriting, virtual blog tours and other marketing services.
- ‘A la carte’ services – Many of our other services can also be purchased ‘a la carte’ (although the package prices are always lower for the equivalent service). Some a la carte services have fixed fees, while others will vary according to the complexity of your particular project.
On that page, you’ll also find downloadable PDF information packs, so you can read about each package in your own time. If you like what you read, and you’d like to discuss how we might work together, follow the link provided in the info pack to set up a FREE 30-minute consultation.
Of course, if you have any questions before you do that, don’t hesitate to drop us a line via the Contact form on this site.
I look forward to hearing from you.
4 March 2015
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Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:
The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues
Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com
The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketing strategist, social media expert, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.
Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.