Today, everything is changing – from your customer needs to your industry to marketing tactics and technology. Unfortunately, that means that many of us who run small businesses are operating with flawed marketing plans based on outdated or incorrect assumptions. The fix: start from scratch.

“But I don’t have time to reengineer my marketing plan!” We hear this all the time. Know that for most of our clients, the first thing we do is cut 90% or more of their marketing budget – because it’s ineffective. Can you really afford to keep pouring that money down the drain? If not, follow these three steps.

  1. Reset Strategy

Try this over lunch: sit down with your team. Talk through the changes you and your team have seen in your industry. Discuss what you do really well. Debate who is truly an ideal customer: who values what you do best. Outline how you can reshape or redefine your products or services to best fit that customer.

  1. Start With A Zero Budget

Ax trendy new marketing tactics. No matter how much you might want to use twitter or Instagram, these media are probably not the best fit for those 55+ or who are technologically challenged. Then, reconsider the marketing tactics that worked so well last year, to see if these still make sense for your ideal customer, and for how your industry has changed. Focus on how your ideal customer wants to be communicated with, what’s easiest and most convenient for her, and what gets her attention.

  1. Get To Market. Fast

Start small, fast and imperfectly (we call this just-in-time marketing). For us Type A perfectionists, this can be tough. But, don’t think about this as lowering your standards. It’s the opposite.

Use a phased approach: start with the first communication, get feedback from your target customers, and then create the next communication. For example, for an email campaign, traditional marketing advice would be to develop themes for all emails for the year in advance, and even to write many of the emails in advance. Don’t do this. Create and send the first email, observe how your target customers react to it, and use that feedback to shape the language and content of the second email. You will get better results.

Don’t want to do these three steps yourself? Challenge us to do so – within your timing and budget.

July 27, 2013