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Christina Boyle on KODAK HIRES LAW FIRM FOR RESTRUCTURING ADVICE, IS THE END NEAR FOR THIS 131-YEAR OLD COMPANY, OR IS BANKRUPTCY NEXT? If you are the founder of a new startup or an existing business it's highly recommended that you develop a roadmap that will get you from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow, six months from now, or a year or longer down the road. A marketing plan should be a formal written document, not recalled from memory or something scribbled on a napkin. Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning - This three stage process involves analysing which distinct customer groups exist and which segment the product best suits before implementing the communications strategy tailored for the chosen target group.
SOSTAC® - This acronym stands for Situation, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Actions and Control and is a very popular classic marketing planning framework for creating marketing plans.
Ansoff's Growth Strategy Matrix - Ansoff’s Growth Strategy Matrix identifies alternative growth strategies by looking at present and potential products in current and future markets. For my money, the SOSTAC® marketing planning model is the model I use the most when developing marketing plans. SOSTAC® is a marketing planning model, originally developed in the 1990s to help with marketing planning by PR Smith, who together with Dave Chaffey co-authored Emarketing Excellence. You can see it gives a logical order for tackling your plan (with iterations) and a great way to summarise the main elements of each. SOSTAC® has become very popular since it’s simple, easy to remember and covers all the main issues which you need in a marketing plan or business plan. Here are some tips on how to use SOSTAC® based on Chaffey's experience applying the model in companies and in academia. Use SOSTAC® to review your process - Before looking at how you apply SOSTAC® at each step to create a marketing plan, use it to review your planning process and how you manage your marketing. Integrate the different elements of your SWOT Analysis -  Oftentimes in a plan or report there isn’t good flow relating sections.
Where Are You Today - You must know where you are today in order to develop a roadmap to where you want to be in the future.
Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses - Take an inventory of your individual and management teams strengths and weaknesses. Organizations - Describe them by number of employees, sales, geographic location, and industry.
SWOT Analysis - Identify your competitive strengths and weaknesses, business opportunities and potential threats.
Management Team - List the key members of your present management team and very brief description of their business and industry experience and education. Milestones Accomplished - Elaborate on significant milestones that have accomplished to date. Your marketing strategies answer the big question:  HOW do you get from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow? Core Marketing Message - Your core marketing message is a short description of your business, products and services, employees, core values, business philosophy, mission and value proposition you bring to the customer relationship.
Define Your Brand - Your brand isn’t just your corporate identity like your logo, tag line, motto or its visual associations such as unique design, colors or packaging, but the relationship you have with your customers. Pricing Model - Describe the methodology you will use to set prices for your products and services. Distribution Strategy - Describe the distribution channels you will utilize to get your product or service to your target market (e.g. Advertising and Promotions Strategy - Determine what media channels you will use to market and promote your products and services to your target market (e.g.
Public Relations Strategy - Describe the methods you will utilize to inform, communicate and educate your public (e.g. Strategic Alliances - Describe the nature and type of third-party alliances you anticipated will be needed in order to compete effectively in the marketplace. Word-of-Mouth -  Describe how and the methods you will utilize to create word-of-mouth. The 2010 launch of Small Business Saturday gives local small businesses new promotional opportunities to encourage patronage within their local markets… and each year the opportunities get bigger and bigger as Small Business Saturday popularity grows! While Black Friday is typically a day that “big box” retail stores thrive and Cyber Monday is one of the most successful days for online retailers, Small Business Saturday is intended to drum up business for local merchants owned and operated by businesses within communities. Marketed by AMEX Open (the small business arm of American Express), Small Business Saturday is supported with TV advertisements, online ads, social media and more.
The overall promotional effort is aimed at encouraging customers to support their local communities and businesses on one dedicated day a year.
You can also take advantage of the Small Business Saturday Checklist for more ideas, resources and promotional tools. With over 20 years of integrated marketing experience, Diane is author of the award-winning book PR Tools to Toot Your Own Horn.
Understanding how visitors find your website and how they respond to your content is critical to optimize your online marketing efforts and grow your business. In a world of micro-moment marketing, customers and prospects are seeking more bite-size content to consume. There are many hair salon marketing ideas that are beneficial to your business and that drive more revenues and sales.
Starting off like most things that are new to us it may seem like a lot of hard work but trust that  it will pay off in the end. It is very important for you to investigate the different salon business marketing tools that will help your business.
Make sure you allot plenty time for market research before establishing your salon business.  Compare the prices charged by your competitors and set your own price based on the area and value of your services.
Providing excellent service to your existing and potential clients is a great way to market your business. The goal of marketing your salon online is to draw traffic to your website in huge numbers. In the event you do not have time to implement the strategies yourself, it would be wise to outsource the basic requirements to get you started.

There are many tools available online for researching and finding a niche.  The tools range from sophisticated blueprint software, forums, and social networking sites, to open directory sites such as Dmoz and eBay Pulse.
If you are starting an online business using a keyword tool is one of the main tools of the trade and the research should be done carefully and thoroughly to determine the best keywords to use for your product or service.  There are free keyword tools such as Google keyword tool and then there are other tools that are acquired by paid subscription like WordTracker and Keyword Discovery. The keywords you choose are important for driving highly targeted traffic to your product or service and you will use these keywords in your advertising, on your website or blog, in your articles you write for article marketing sites, and with any other tool you use to promote your online business.  More on keyword research as we get into this site.
Whatever you decide it is important to develop a plan for what you want to accomplish with your site, use good search engines optimization techniques which we will touch on later in this site, and use a layout that is easy to understand and navigate. Video marketing is a fairly new tool to the trade and if you have a computer equipped with a web cam you can easily create a simple “how to” video on your product or service and launch it onto a site such as YouTube.  There is a series of techniques to video marketing which we will get into later but, it is a great way to start spreading the word about your brand across the Internet and for getting your credibility established. There is a host of other tools of the trade when it comes to setting up and running your online business but hopefully by touching on the main ones, we have supplied you with a little direction on how to get started with a successful online business.  We will also be going into more details on how to effectively use these tools on this website so sit back and enjoy. If there is a topic you would like to see me discuss or write about here, simply leave a comment below and I will be happy to oblige! Customers have the ability to make or break your business based on their positive or negative influence on others. Many potential customers rely on testimonials from current or previous customers when evaluating products or services from a business.
The best news for small businesses is that customer testimonials are essentially free advertising.
Most businesses can get one or two customer testimonials fairly easily, but the trick is putting a process in place to continually gather valuable and current testimonials. Creating an ongoing flow of testimonials also helps to demonstrate to new customers that your product and service offering is strong, consistent and only improves over time. If you want more customer testimonials, your business should strive to create an atmosphere that encourages feedback and rewards sharing of customer experiences with your business.
Here are some tips to help you ramp up inbound feedback activity and leverage your most loyal and influential customers. Make it really easy for customers to give you feedback… don’t make them dig around for a feedback mechanism on your site.
Be on the lookout for active participants on your social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest or Google+. Much like feedback on social media sites, online reviews are a good source of potential customer testimonials. A small reward for sharing a customer experience can go a long way to show your appreciation, but be careful not to appear as though you are paying for a testimonial. Sometimes your customers need a little more incentive to share their story and contribute their feedback. You may be wondering… How are customer testimonials different than loyalty reward programs or online reviews?
Loyalty reward programs are typically points-based tracking programs that encourage repeat transactions or specific behavior (such as referrals). Online review programs are mostly anonymous and based on specific products purchased online. A good customer testimonial program combines ideas behind reward and review programs, showcases the positive feedback and leverages it as a sales tool.
Typical testimonials can be as simple as a quote attributed to a customer, or as detailed as a full story or profile of the customer situation and how your business helped meet their needs. The important thing with a solid ongoing testimonial program is getting into the habit of asking for the testimonial. This workbook addresses every commercial step necessary to pen the most impressive marketing plan your company has ever seen. What is a Mission Statement's function, and what are the guidelines is setting objectives. Understanding the type of innovation reveals the factors that needs to be addressed to launch properly.
SOSTAC is more comprehensive and borrows elements of several of the other popular marketing planning models.
The four growth strategies include: market penetration, market development, product development and diversification. Include major new customers, revenues, no of unique visitors, downloads, new patents, major personnel additions and awards.
Will you be using inside sales personnel, inbound or outbound sales personnel, outside sales personnel, manufacturer's representatives, independent salespeople or network marketing personnel. With so many small local merchants struggling to compete against bigger businesses, the Small Business Saturday event hopes to put an annual focus on shopping with local retailers and merchants on Thanksgiving weekend nationwide. Get the word out early by communicating often with customers and your community through Facebook, Twitter, email newsletters, on your website and in person at your store.
Connect your business with the cause of local community support – not just support of your local business.
Or, download a full marketing resources kit from American Express that includes logos, signage, social media templates and more. Increase the incentives with special one-day discounts and promotions that will improve foot traffic into your store location.
Extend your shopping day for customers on the day of the event by opening earlier or staying open later to make it even easier for customers to shop at your business location.
You can create even more excitement for your local small business by doing something different to draw attention. Build on momentum from each other by having multiple businesses in the same line of stores or area actively participating in Small Business Saturday with promotions to increase visibility and attention for all local businesses.
The Small Business Saturday promotional event is a great opportunity to build your own customer database for long-term marketing throughout the year.
Ask your loyal existing customers to share your Small Business Saturday promotions with their friends or colleagues to help spread the word.
Check out our Marketing Plan Template Builder that helps you easily customize marketing plans for special events like Small Business Saturday, as well as your ongoing marketing efforts.

Diane also serves as the marketing director for SureShade, a growing small business that has become the new standard for shade on boats, and runs Marine Marketing Tools, a site that bridges her passion for boating and small business marketing. There will be even more media attention on Small Business Saturday this year which really helps with local promotions. They are looking for information that is quick, understandable and easy to act upon if desired.
Like any other business, you need to incorporate the right strategies in order to have a sound business system. Researching your competitors should give you some good ideas on different things to promote. That’s why any good business person knows that providing excellent customer service and nurturing repeat, loyal customers is the key to success. A customer testimonial captures the essence of a customer’s experience with your business and can speak volumes for your products, your service level and your ability to deliver on your brand promise.
It’s like having your best sales people on staff – without having to put them on your payroll! You received positive feedback from a customer and you turned it into a testimonial with their permission.
Because you certainly don’t want your best testimonial to be one you got from a customer that did business with you 10 years ago.
When they see other customers being featured, they are likely to want to receive the same type of exposure. Most outspoken customers on social media sites are happy customers (of course if they are not you will know that too and it’s best to handle the situation promptly). Of course the positive review can work in your favor as a testimonial, but getting permission to showcase the customer’s feedback in a more formal fashion can help give it more visibility and assist your sales efforts.
Get them actively contributing to your marketing library by launching a photo or video contest. Customers provide ratings and feedback on the product (which usually includes customer service) and can be a great sales tool for potential customers. Whether you are a one person shop or a small business with a sales and customer service staff, everyone should be focused on asking for permission to use feedback from a customer as a testimonial. Don't think in terms of what other organizations or individuals have done, but how you are going to get it done.
Your most loyal customers can become your biggest advocates and help spread the word to new customers in your community.
Emphasize the fact that supporting your business and other local businesses is an investment in your community.
Serve free coffee in the morning, display balloons outside your store, hire a musician to play music in your store or create a contest for a drawing.
Be sure to capture contacts of new customers for email marketing, social media or direct mail to continue to communicate to local consumers with specials after the event.
Encourage sharing on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, along with good old-fashioned offline word of mouth! Not all strategies can be implemented in the same manner since no two businesses are alike.
Once you get a great customer testimonial you can use it on your website, in your sales pitches and throughout your marketing efforts to help sell your business.
You may have even been lucky enough to have testimonials actually offered to you by customers. Outdated praise won’t necessarily be the best assessment of your business for potential new customers. Be sure to prominently showcase customer testimonials throughout your website, your marketing materials and social media networks.
Phrases like “Share Your Story”, “Tell us What You Think”, “Share Your Love” or “Be a [Company Name] Star” are much more engaging than a simple “contact us” or “feedback” link.
Items that customers are likely to use and will be seen by others (such as t-shirts) are particularly useful because they turn customers into walking and talking billboards for your business.
Customers participating in loyalty programs are very valuable to a business because they are typically very happy and good advocates. You’d be surprised – most happy customers are very willing to share their story with others. Perhaps you’re not so good at setting SMART objectives, or developing strategies to support them or the control stage of assessing how effective your strategies and tactics are and adjusting them?
Marketing through word of mouth is free and is one of the most credible ways to drive more business to your salon. But, as with many small businesses, you probably don’t have a “customer testimonial program” in place that actively encourages and gathers new testimonials. The problem with reward programs is that there is typically not an easy way to capture their praise and use it as a testimonial in marketing efforts. The problem with online reviews is that you cannot control the presentation or wording of the review.
Photo promotions with Facebook or other social media sites work very well to spread the word. Also, because the review is typically tied to a product it may not be as visible as you would like on your website. For video contests, have them upload the video to YouTube and send you the link to the video.

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