In previous columns I wrote about my new niche, wine tours and finding and utilizing a mentor. So far so good. Now, comes the hard part. The “M” word-marketing. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. While I am good at selling the experience, adding value and servicing my clients, marketing has always been a challenge. I equate marketing with going to the dentist both necessary and painful. For me marketing is frustrating, expensive and time consuming. It is an intangible and the results are hard to measure.
Where do I begin? The experts will tell you a good marketing plan is essential. I have one, sort of, written on a legal pad. I need to sit down and put the effort into a good, solid marketing plan. The first step is research. What is a good marketing plan? What should be included in the plan? Does it have to be complicated? How do I write one?
My local library is a great resource for books on marketing and marketing plans. I have found my Business Development Managers are a good source as well. One of my Business Development Managers suggested utilizing the Travel Institutes resources and marketing plans. Other sources I have found are SCORE (a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs). SCORE offers free counselors to small business. You can get counseling on-line or in person. SCORE tries to match you up with people in your industry or a closely related industry. I have contacted SCORE and am waiting to hear back from them. A mentor can be a great help with your marketing plan as well. As I said before, I am very lucky in that department. Don’t over look sources such as your County Extension office or State Business Development offices. Both have links and information for small businesses—and it is in their interest to see you succeed. Google “small business marketing plans” and there are many on line sites with both free and fee based service available. Small business and business coaches can help also. Don’t be afraid to ask people you know who are involved in other businesses for advice as well.
Loaded with new information and resources I am ready to tackle the “M” word. I have found the more information and tools in my arsenal the less I am dreading it.
Mary Stephan is the President of Allons Travel based in Powell, OH. For more information, you can contact Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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