If your intention is to do any type of marketing activities in order to grow your business, a must is to start with a so called marketing plan. In this article I am going to lay out important steps for creating highly tactical marketing plan that can produce meaningful results for your business.
Why in this case length doesn’t matter and why simplicity always beat complexity
If you’re thinking about developing a marketing program, you need to begin with a basic marketing plan. Having been professional services industry for more than a decade, I have seen my share of marketing plans. Some are short and to the point, others are hundreds of pages thick and cost thousands of dollars to produce. Seldom, those expensive and monumental, outperform those concise and well structured. What I have found is that it is not the complexity and length that matter, but rather simplicity, commitment and implementation that make or break your marketing intentions.
The harsh reality and the painful, to some degree, irony
The irony is that many of the expensive marketing plans end up on a shelf and rarely get implemented. Business people like simplicity and non-technical jargon. They could not be bothered to commit to something fuzzy and abstract. Therefore,to prove the point, simpler the plans are, if researched and implemented effectively, impact and results they produce will be the greatest.
Regardless of the expectations of your marketing plan, you must be clear in mind that it is a continuous improvement process and not something that you are going to do once in a lifetime. Circumstances change, markets shift, preferences, tastes and technologies are varying almost daily. Every successful to be structure, needs to start with a well conducted thorough research about the environment, competitive position, and all the things it will bring to the table. State your reasons, intentions, what are you good at, what are your unique selling/competing proposition and so on. Keep in mind that if you are not absolutely clear with yourself your chances compete successfully reduce dramatically. Then clearly determine what you need to know, what additional skills you need to obtain, where are you going to find the missing information. Keep it simple and don’t overload yourself with things you don’t need in this early stage. Your plan should focus on your most important thing which is to get you and your business off ground and to keep your revenue model going so that you have financial resources to fund your next activities. You should always be willing to enhance or redirect your plan based on what proves successful. Simply saying – KEEP WHAT’S WORKING AND ABANDON (after careful consideration) EVERYTING ELSE!
Back to basics
Your Current Marketing Reality
Clearly establish where are you NOW. And I mean it literally. Where are you relatively to your marketing and business goals. What is working, what is not working? Why is that so? What results would be ideal? What is necessary for you to move forward? What is your next step?
Collect, organise, and write down data about the market that is currently buying the product(s) or service(s) you will sell. Some important points to consider:
Market dynamics, patterns including seasonality
Customers – demographics, market segment, target markets, needs, buying decisions
Product – what’s out there now, what’s the competition offering. Where you can become ultimate choice. The best provider of services, goods etc. Where you can build on what someone else already did so that you can wipe out the years of research, development and marketing efforts.
Current sales in the industry – in other words is there a need currently present?
Benchmarks in the industry – who are the main players? Why is it so?
Suppliers – vendors that you will need to rely on. How can you obtain favourable terms and conditions?
Your Ideal Customer
What are their problems, pains, needs, wants, desires? You need to articulate why YOU are the best solution for their issues? Why only you can do things that your big claim is about? What is your motivation to help them? Find niche or target markets for your services and product and describe them. Assign benefits of working with you! Keep in mind that people buy emotionally, they seek help for emotional reasons as well.
Describe your service, product, offer. Be specific. How does your product relate to the market? What does your market need, what do they currently use, what do they need above and beyond current use? CAN YOU CREATE WOW EFFECT with your intended offers?
You need to discover in your business some hidden assets, potentials, strengths that if combined and leveraged could possibly propel you and your business to the AUTHORITY Position!
YOU NEED TO BECOME TREND SETTER and avoid FOLLOWER mentality!
Describe your competition. Develop your “unique selling proposition.” What makes you stand apart from your competition? What is your competition doing about branding? What can you learn from your competition?
Setting the Scene with powerful and engaging Mission Statement
Write a few key points that state:
Key market – who you’re selling to
Contribution – what you’re selling
Distinction – your unique selling proposition
Solution – your intention, service, offer
Market Strategies that will keep you going
Write down the marketing and promotion strategies that you want to use or at least consider using. It is as simple as that. Don’t confuse how to do with what to do it, Strategies Vs. Tactics. Strategies are broader while actions are specifics. So to help you here, strategies to consider:
Networking – go where your market is
Direct marketing – sales letters, brochures, flyers
Advertising – print media, directories
Training programs – to increase awareness
Write articles, give advice, become known as an expert
Pricing, Positioning and Branding
From the information you’ve collected, establish strategies for determining the price of your product, where your product will be positioned in the market and how you will achieve brand awareness.
Budget your dollars. What strategies can you afford? What can you do in house, what do you need to outsource. You need to keep the tight budget and keep investing where you are getting results. Marketing as we know it is the term of the past. Internet is a great example and leverage point for any type and/or size of the business. It is so wrong to expect that more money invested will actually bring you more leads, customers and clients! Sometimes the more you spend the more will be washed away!
Establish quantifiable marketing goals (SMART) This means goals that you can turn into numbers, that are specific, rational, clear and time limited. The other importance in quantifying is scalability, the ability of your business to grow without your direct investment in resources.
Monitor Your Results
Determine, with absolute precision, how, what and when results will be measured. So, if you set the standards, you will know what is acceptable, where improvements are necessary and so on.
Test, test, test. Analyse, analyse and analyse. Identify the successful strategies that are working. Be clear and fearful. Every unsuccessful strategy cost you money and should be either abandoned or reshaped and reworked.
Surveys are great ways to see how markets, prospects, clients perceive your marketing efforts. Ask often your best customers and ask for feedback. Know the purpose.
Track sales, leads, visitors to your web site, percent of sales to impressions etc.
By researching your markets, your competition, and determining your unique positioning, you are in a much better position to promote and sell your product or service. By establishing goals for your marketing campaign, you can better understand whether or not your efforts are generating results through ongoing review and evaluation of results.