Maryland is a state that punches above its weight in many ways. By area, MD ranks 42nd on the list of biggest states, though it does have the 19th largest population. However, when you look at Gross Domestic Product, the state ranks 15th, with an economy worth $426.7 billion.

If Maryland were an independent country, it would rank 27th, ahead of Austria, Norway, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Israel, Hong Kong, South Africa, and Ireland.

The state has become an economic powerhouse by having strong finance, insurance, real estate, and business service sectors, as well as being home to several of the largest Fortune 500 companies, including Lockheed Martin, Discovery, Marriott International, and McCormick.

Of course, Maryland also has a strong body of small businesses that deal in everything from groceries to cybersecurity. The state’s “Business Express” service even offers a wealth of resources to support new and experienced business owners to set themselves up, navigate the legal and tax systems, and access funding.

If you’re one of these business owners, you may be wondering about what else you can do to help take your business to the next level. One option could be to push your marketing activities to help drive more business. If you think this could help you, here are some tips and trips you may want to consider.

Set Some Goals

Many businesses fail with their marketing because they blindly spend money on something without any clear goal in mind. A goal will help you to focus your activities on what will yield the best results and prevent you from going off on a tangent.

Your goal(s) should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. So just saying “get more sales” isn’t going to cut it, as it’s difficult to measure whether you actually achieved the target. Instead, you could say “increase revenue by 5% in six months” or “reach 50 daily website inquiries per day by October”.

Research, Research, Research

Before you put out an ad, run a promotion, or begin posting on social media, you need to do your research. Spending some time doing the legwork in this area will help you spend your time and money more wisely.

For a marketing campaign to succeed you need to understand your market, what your customers want, who your competitors are, and how you can differentiate yourself from them.

This was something that PokerStarsdid before coming up with the “I’M IN” campaign. The company undertook extensive research to understand its customers’ values, wants, and desires. In doing so, PokerStars found that its customers were “adventure seekers” and that they came to the company as they wanted a “trusted environment” to play card games with others.

This research then helped the company to create a set of marketing materials, including TV and online ads that evoke a sense of thrill and adventure.

Plan

Using this research and your goals, you can then begin to plan what you’re going to do. If your research found that your customers value convenience, then you may want to demonstrate how your product can save them time or effort.

This is what Blue Apron has done. It sells meal kits that allow people to cook great food at home. The company has understood that there are many people that want to eat healthy and delicious food but don’t always have the time to spend hours cooking.

That’s why the company has created a delivery servicethat ships pre-prepared ingredients to your door with easy-to-follow instructions that tell you how to cook them.

The company understood that the people most likely to appreciate such a service would be millennials that are cash-rich time-poor professionals. So instead of running its ads on television, the company focused on sites like YouTube where this demographic gets more of its content from.

Your plan should include an appropriate marketing mix, using communication channels that are appropriate for your audience and a message that demonstrates how you solve the problems you uncovered in your research.

Review

Once you’ve executed your plan, you’ll need to review its success (or lack of) so you can understand what to repeat next time and what to improve on. This is where your original goals come in, as you can use this to measure your results.

It’s likely you may not entirely succeed in your first few attempts, but that’s ok because you’ll learn valuable information that can help you next time.


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