(Today’s blog is adapted by permission from two Natural Touch Marketing articles originally published in 2013.)

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Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

To actually create a successful marketing strategy, you need to do some background research. Your research may produce many ideas, but don’t let it overwhelm you. All of this information will make it easier to put your marketing plan together, when you are ready.

Questions to Guide Your Research

Are people familiar with what you do?

You may be located in an area where the service you offer is already popular, or you may need to educate the people who live there. Are there many others offering the same service in your area?

Who is your competition?

Make a list of your colleagues and where they promote their services. Are the practices of your competitors’ viable? How do they set themselves apart? Make note of who seems particularly successful. Contact a few that you have met, or would especially like to meet, and ask them if they would be willing to share their take on trends or how they boost their practice when business is slow. Or treat yourself to their services, and talk to them while you are there.

Study your local business environment. How is the local economy doing at the moment? What are people willing to pay for your service?

Who else serves your targeted clientele?

In order to write your mission statement, I recommended you define the kind of clients you would like to target in your practice. Talk to other kinds of professionals who work with those you would like to serve, such as mental health counselors, chiropractors, or yoga and fitness instructors. Ask them how they reach their clients.

Take a further look around.

Read trade journals, search the web (look for free marketing newsletters), and dip into books on marketing for ideas on reaching clients. Also, subscribe to the Marketing Mastery newsletter for ongoing support.

Write up your notes and analyze them.

Which advice do you want to follow? Where do you want to try to reach potential clients and what kind of message do you want to send? This will help you decide what goals and objectives to list in your marketing plan, and what actions will help you meet them.

For example, if successful clinical practitioners told you that one way they receive contacts is through physician referrals, establishing physician contacts may become one of your major goals. Here’s another example for someone who does pregnancy massage. Ask friends or clients who are pregnant or have small children what local publications they read. If they tell you they always glance at the coupons in your area’s family news magazine, you may want to create a special promotion for that publication, and fit that into your marketing plan.

Use your notes to make a list of goals.

Conducting research may take time, but it is one of the most important ways to find out how to best direct your marketing efforts. What did you find out from your research? What do you want to achieve that is in keeping with your particular practice? What strategies will help you reach people who fit the profile of your ideal client? How will you set yourself apart?

Make a list of goals for your practice for the next 3-5 years. You may have only a few, or many. You definitely want to include a goal statement that expresses how many clients (per week or month) you wish to serve. Now write down the 1-2 year goals that can help you reach the more far-reaching ones.

Develop a strategy.

What steps should you take to reach your goals? Keep breaking these down into the smaller and smaller steps to take to reach your short and long-term goals.

Some of these steps will be obvious like getting brochures, business cards, gift certificates, and a website. It could also include advertising on Google, no-cost marketing efforts like sending emails, and speaking publicly, and creating additional client communication materials like flyers and newsletters.

Make a calendar with completion dates.

Take the goals, objectives, and action steps and post them on a marketing calendar. It is important to include dates for COMPLETION of marketing tasks. Post the calendar where you can’t miss it. In order to stay on target, refer to this calendar as you work toward your goals, revising as needed.

  • Write out the steps needed to acquire brochures, business cards, flyers, and other marketing supplies.
  • Include on your calendar the distribution of your promotional materials. Where can you post them so your target clients will see them?

Make sure your potential clients can contact you.

Your contact information should be on every piece of marketing material you have. And it’s just plain good sense to keep your brochures and business cards with you. Be ready to hand them to anyone who shows interest in the services you offer.

Always be thinking: Who can you hand them to? What businesses or other offices are nearby?

And don’t just hand them to people. Engage them in conversations—not just about yourself, but about their interests and concerns, too.