What happens when you wait until the last minute to do anything in life?

• You become stressed out, trying to get something done too quickly;
• The project is rushed, causing items to be overlooked, poorly done or completely missed
• You often do the wrong thing... just to do something!

This is no way to run your life - and certainly is no way to run your business.

When we wait until we NEED business to do some marketing, it's the same thing as pushing off a necessary task until the last moment... and it causes all the same kinds of stress, with one additional stressor - financial stress... the kind of stress we can all live without.

Marketing is not a one-time, do-it-as-you-need-to event. It is a constant reminder to the world that you're still in business, that you're going to be there for your customers for the long-term, and that you are a good businessperson.

There are many reasons to make marketing a part of your daily/weekly/ monthly business practice:

1. Marketing takes time. It is an "awareness" program that constantly and consistently promotes you, your services and your brand.

2. Marketing is different from sales. Marketing does not necessarily produce income now; effective sales efforts produce income now. If you need business now, you need effective sales efforts, not simply marketing efforts. However, good marketing sets you up as the "vendor of choice" for future sales.

3. Marketing helps customers choose you (rather than your competition) when they're ready to buy. Customers are not always ready to buy at the exact moment your marketing and sales efforts reach them. By getting (and keeping) your name out there, and consistently and reliably maintaining top-of-mind awareness, customers are more apt to choose you when they're ready to buy. If you disappear after one sales call, or one marketing campaign, customers who are not ready to buy at that moment will forget about you. Consistent marketing ensures that they don't - in fact, can't - forget about you.

4. An effective marketing plan helps you stay on target with regard to timeframes and budgets. If you don't have a sound marketing plan, but will simply try anything and everything that "sounds good at the time," you will probably get a poor return on your investment, and will likely miss your sales targets, as well as taking a chance on being out of business very quickly... not to mention there will likely be no cohesiveness to your message and branding if you do everything "piecemeal."

Marketing doesn't have to be mysterious or difficult. But it does take planning, budgeting and a vision of the message you want to distribute in the public eye. Good marketing plans include your vision, mission and commitment, as well as identification of your target markets, unique offerings and where and how you want to market your products.

Target your best potential customers and keep yourself in front of them on a regular basis. You can do this through:

• Traditional mailings (not just one-shot, but consistent periodic mailings)
• E-mails (offering advice, services and free information, such as that found in e-zines, e-newsletters and blogs)
• Print ads, such as those in print magazines, newspapers and newsletters
• Radio and TV ads
Networking events

Start small, especially if your budget is limited: identify the most cost-effective solutions that fit your budget and goals at this time... and include plans for how you will grow and continue to expand your marketing and target audience over time. And don't forget the fact that good old-fashioned sales efforts can help you build your target customer base quickly, making your marketing efforts more successful much more quickly!

Author's Bio: 

National speaker and author of the book, It’s My Dream And Who Am I To Stop Me?, Sandy Geroux is helps others achieve breakthrough performance through programs on effective risk-taking, goal-setting and achievement, and customer service. For more articles and tips, visit her on the web at www.sandygeroux.com or e-mail her at sandyg@sandygeroux.com