1. Understand your strengths Ask yourself these questions: Why do people buy from you? What do you really do for your customers? How are you better than your competition? What special skills or advantages do you have? The answers to these questions are your competitive advantages. They are what make you stand out from your competition. They may be related to price, location, professional skills, attitude, responsiveness or your own personality. People buy from you because you do something for them no one else does. Understand this and you've taken the first step to better marketing. 2. Identify your customers (your target market) To promote your business you should focus on people who value what you do. Your strengths (or competitive advantages) will help you focus on who will most value your service or product. For example, if your location is a strength then your customers will reflect your location. If high quality is a strength then your customers should appreciate quality. To get an idea of who your target market is, look at your current customers. Or, look at your profit margins to decide which type of customers to focus on. You might have several target markets because you have several products or services and a variety of strengths. Bottom line: focus on people who will place a high value on what you can do for them. These people will be your most loyal and profitable customers 3. Create a meaningful message The key in successful marketing is to deliver the right message to the right people as often as your budget will allow. So, you need a message that tells your target market why they should do business with you. Your message should reflect your strengths because those are what you do best. And, your message should be in terms that your target market is interested in. In other words speak in their language and say what they want to hear. Example: You're a Realtor and your strength is that you sell houses fast and your target market is people who want their houses sold fast, then your message might be: "I sell houses fast!" And you can give them some details to demonstrate how you sell houses faster than anyone else in town (such as statistics and testimonials). Another example: If you are a chiropractor and your strength is that you help get rid of back pain and you help your patients prevent it from coming back, then your target market might be people with chronic back pain who want it to stop, forever. Your message might be: "We get rid of back pain now and we prevent it from coming back later." Your message comes directly from your strengths and your target market. The three work together naturally and simply. You can have more than one message. Each marketing focus (based on a product or service, a target market and a strength) should have its own message. To start, just work on one message. Then as you develop a system that works, add others to your marketing system. Don't overwhelm yourself right away by trying to do too much. 4. Deliver your message as often as your budget allows. Now you have to find and purchase the appropriate delivery vehicles (or media) for your marketing messages. There are three things to remember as you plan how to deliver your message: Set a budget for the project. Get the most exposure possible for that budget. Focus your exposure on your target group. Unless your budget is unlimited, you need to choose delivery vehicles that focus your message.