Is revenue and profit growth a key objective for your business this year? Then a marketing plan is an essential tool. It provides the blueprint of what you will do and how you will do it. And it’s not difficult. It’s simply a matter of answering these eight questions.
Who are you trying to reach?
Whether you call it your target market or ideal customers, it’s the group of people who want or need your products or services – with the capacity to pay for them. Those you want to reach with your marketing efforts. Think small groups or niches, not the masses. Be specific. The more you know, the easier it is to speak to them – in a way that is compelling and effective.
Can you create a profile of your best customers? Whether you serve consumers or other businesses, think beyond basic demographics. What is important to them? What do they value or worry about? Why do they like doing business with you? If you are unsure, do a little research. Talk to some of your best customers – and see what patterns emerge.
How do you compare with competition?
Today’s buyers have a lot of choices and access to information. They also have personal experiences with a wide range of companies – inside and outside of your industry. As a result, customer expectations on quality, service, convenience and more are higher. How do you measure up in areas that are important to your customers?
If you are not sure, a simple SWOT analysis may help. What do they do well and not so well? Talk to customers, employees and suppliers to determine your strengths and weaknesses. Then you have some information to answer the next question.
Related: How to Use SWOT to Uncover Opportunities
What makes you unique?
What do you do so well that you could potentially guarantee it? Do you do it better than others? Is it something your customers truly value? If so, turn this into your unique selling or value proposition. It’s the reason why your customers should choose to do business with you.
Remember, you only need one differentiation to stand out. Here’s an example. When it comes to customer service, Chick-fil-A has consistently ranked high. Their claim to fame: their employees were rated among the most polite in their industry category. In other words, please and thank you, done consistently well, made them stand out – and their customers noticed.
What should you charge and why?
Your marketing message should work with your pricing strategy. It relates directly to perceived value and is a factor in purchase decisions. Don’t ignore this when developing your marketing plan.
Related: Pricing – Six Common Mistakes to Avoid
How will you reach potential customers?
This is the substance of your plan – and often where most small businesses start. Your promotional plan covers all your communications and dictates how you get the word out to prospects and customers. Ideally, it should combine a variety of tools – digital and print. Advertising, publicity, direct mail, social media, email marketing, promotional products and direct sales work well together.
In addition to integrating a variety of tools, consistency matters too. Whatever tools you select, determine the frequency and stick with it. It is better to do fewer tactics on a more consistent basis – than periodically doing a lot of different things. Looking for some ideas? Check out my 155+ profit building ideas.
How much will you spend and on what?
A marketing budget serves two purposes. It helps you determine what you can or cannot afford – and prioritize what you spend it on. Since many small businesses have limited marketing budgets, this is vital. And with technology today, some activities are more affordable than they were in the past. Do a little research, don’t assume everything is out of reach.
What tasks do you need to complete to execute?
Most marketing requires a series of tasks to complete. For each tool or tactic, list the critical tasks you need to do to get it done. Don’t forget to give yourself some due dates to keep you on track.
Here is an example. If you plan to do a direct mail campaign, you will likely include some of the following tasks: set objectives, budget and drop date, hire designer to create piece, write copy (or hire copywriter), develop mailing list, etc.
How will you track results?
When you invest your time and money on marketing, you will want to know how those efforts pay off. So, tracking results is important. Tracking will also help you determine what you can improve upon as you move forward.
The metrics you choose will depend on the marketing tools you use and the call-to-action response you are trying to achieve. Here are some common ones to consider: new leads, website visits, social media likes, new social media connections, CTA response rates, requests for quotes, sales appointments or calls, new customers and sales conversion rates.
Surprised that I included some sales metrics? You shouldn’t be. Good marketing should create leads, calls and traffic. But it should also smooth the way for sales – which is the ultimate goal right? So, make sure your sales process is also up to the task. Because leads that go unconverted are simply a waste of time and money.
Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?
Would another set of eyes, ongoing support and accountability from an expert help you take your business to a new level of success? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.
To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com