For the past 100+ years the word, marketing, has been defined as: “Mar*ket*ing. 1. The act or process of buying and selling in a market. 2 The commercial functions involved in transferring goods from producer to consumer.”


This may work well philosophically but it’s hardly practical! Try using this to create a strategic plan. It’s not likely to be very helpful.


Make it easy for your customers to know what you do

John Jantsch, author of Duct-tape Marketing, created a checklist for marketing, that I believe is “spot on.” Especially, for the diversity and choices available in today’s marketplace. Jantsch’s definition is, KNOW, LIKE & TRUST.


Try, buy, repeat, and refer

When a shopper knows, likes, and trusts a business, they’re more likely to Try, (your product or service) Buy, (pay for your product or service)  Repeat (become a repeat and perhaps, frequent customer), and Refer (become an ambassador who will refer your product or service to their friends, colleagues and acquaintances). If you’re of the same mind/opinion then, you’re ready to take the next steps. And, create a strategic plan that’s perfect to position your business for today’s marketplace.


The first required question

There are two required questions that you’ll need to ask. The answers will provide you the foundation of your business’ strategic plan:

  • Who is your ideal customer/prospect?

To determine your ideal customer, be sure to include demographics, psychographics, geography and behavior.


Value and profit

Here are a few hints: Your ideal customer is one who values you and the relationship they have with you. This customer is also one who is profitable. If your profit margins are consistently off kilter with a customer, it doesn’t matter how much or frequently they buy from you, they may be costing your business money.


The second required question

2) How does your business differentiate itself from competition?


Don’t be afraid to ask your customers about their experience

Differentiating yourself from others may require you to ask your customers the following:

  • What would you “Google” to find our business?
  • Why should people choose our company over others?
  • What does our business do differently or have, that’s better than the competition?

Additionally, ask yourself, when shoppers buy from your business, what are they really getting?





Tell your story and match your customers’ needs

Since their inception, Federal Express (FedEx) operated their business as if they were in the package expediting business. And, they used very similar marketing tactics as their competitors did. Then, several years ago, they went through a process like the one above. FedEx discovered that by making a change to their business philosophy, they could be dramatically different from their competitors. They exited the package expediting business and became—the peace of mind business!


It’s not just a tag line, you need a good service or product

FedEx’s excellent service gave their customers peace of mind because they knew their package would be delivered on time. FedEx changed their marketing to reflect what their best customers already knew—FedEx could be trusted time and time again to deliver their packages. It’s the perfect example of Know, Like, Trust, Repeat, and Refer. By changing tactics to market the FedEx customer experience—FedEx reached more of their ideal customers and then those customers referred more customers.


Remember, there is no way to choose or measure the effectiveness of your tactics until you have a strategic plan, first.


Have a question? Ask Alan…

If you have a small business question email it to Alan: alan@alan-adler.comQuestions may be combined and answered in an upcoming column of “Ask Alan!”



Alan Adler is an Executive Coach, Business Consultant & Speaker. He’s worked for Westinghouse Broadcasting, as a producer/director and with senior management at AT&T, as a corporate spokesperson. Additionally, Alan has been an entrepreneur, creating and growing his own business, Alan Adler & Associates. As a result, he knows management, media and marketing. Alan specializes in helping entrepreneurs through mid-sized businesses, improve profitability. He lives in Huntersville, NC with his wife Mindy. They have two grown children, two adorable grandchildren, and a rescue dog named Bentley.