Preparation is defined as the action or process of making or being ready for use or consideration. That seems pretty straight-forward doesn’t it? Well, it does; and if I sat you down and asked for the 5 keys to successfully executing a marketing plan it’s likely the word preparation would be one of the 5 things you said as an answer. The problem is that while most people can identify what it takes to be successful they often have difficult executing what they’ve identified, and nothing is overlooked more than preparation, sometimes to the effect of irreversible harm.
A while back a client of mine, a recent startup, left me an urgent message saying they needed help creating a marketing brochure that could be designed, printed and out-the-door in 48 hours. When I returned the call I was told how they had finally arranged a meeting with a potential client they had been chasing for a few months, one that would be their first major client. The meeting went perfectly until the potential client asked if they had any literature on the company, which they did not. Now, luckily for them, we were able to create a fantastic brochure and they went on to sign the potential client. However, not adequately preparing for that meeting could have cost them that client and, potentially, their entire business.
It is imperative that someone be responsible for forecasting what a businesses target market will expect from the company that they choose to buy a product or service from. Doing this job requires communicating with current clients to understand their needs and perceptions, being observant about the current state of your target market, researching the competition and much more. When done correctly, a business will almost always be prepared in advance for anything a client might ask or expect, whether that is company literature, an appropriate brand mark or even a sufficient answer to a question about the product.
Never take the chance that what you have is good enough in business. Just because you made a great first impression doesn’t mean that the marketing stops, in fact it’s just beginning. You should constantly be assessing your marketing efforts, both towards potential clients and also current clients, and looking for ways to improve. Going above and beyond only helps, never hurts.
So, I’m issuing a challenge. When you finish reading this article, I want you to do two things:
1. Think about a marketing problem your company has faced in the past. How was it solved? Could you have prepared for that problem before it happened?
2. Find a gap in your marketing efforts that exists today. I promise you that at least one exists. Once you’ve identified that gap, start making the preparations for how to fill it.
Doing these two exercises will help you begin to identify potential problems before they happen. And once you’ve learned to do that, you’ll find yourself prepared to always be one step ahead of your clients expectations. In other words, you’ll be prepared to succeed.