By now, most people who start new businesses understand the importance of having a business plan. Not quite as many, however, are entirely aware a marketing plan is just as important. But it is. Just like with a business plan, having a good marketing plan makes certain you won’t waste energy going off in directions which are not effective or which work at cross purposes. That’s important.
After all, if your marketing is ineffective then potential customers either won’t know that you’re out there or won’t know that you offer a product that they want to buy. And if enough people don’t know either of those two things, you won’t have any customers and your company can’t help but go under.
So, how do you build a marketing plan?
The situation analysis
The first step to having a successful marketing plan is understanding your market and what you offer that puts you apart from everybody else. This differs per market and per company and means that you understand the specific niche that you occupy. You also need to fully appreciate what your competition is doing and why that is attractive to customers. Only once you’ve understood that, can you appreciate in what ways you can offer something that’s better value – be it in terms of quality, price or accessibility.
To create a situation analysis, create a profile of your business that outlines its strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities and threats. Be as honest as you can be at this stage. Also, spare some time for the planning fallacy, which is the one where almost everything that you do is going to take longer and be more difficult than you imagine it to be through our inbuilt optimism as well as our inability to see all the obstacles which will be in our way.
Your target audience
Understanding your business and you competition is only a part of the puzzle. You also need to understand the people who you’re going to sell your products to. The best way to do so is to create a profile of your audience. If you already have an audience, then interview them to get an idea of who they are and what they’re interested in. If you don’t, then explore the audience of your competitors.
Of course, you might want to target a different audience from them. Nonetheless, there will no doubt still be some communalities.
You’ll want to explore whether they’re conservative or not, whether they’re innovative and quick to pick up new ideas, as well as age, sex, educational level and interests. All of these will inform how you’re going to approach them.
Also, remember that you’ll also want to know what the preferred media is for your audience. In that way, you’ll be more likely to target them in the media that they’re going to use.
The marketing goals
Now it’s time to decide what you’re hoping to achieve. Of course, ‘more sales’ is part of that ambition, but you should get more specific than that. Do you want to increase exposure, find new customers, or boost the loyalty of the ones you already have? Is the goal to build a loyal following or create a lot of traffic on your websites or in your store locations?
Do note, your marketing goals should be informed by what you’ve written in the sections above. If you’ve realized your customers aren’t likely to physically coming to your stores, then creating marketing goals that boost the traffic at said stores is probably not going to be effective.
Similarly, an Ok Dissertations writing services shouldn’t aim at convincing the elderly to visit their sites.
Marketing communication and strategies
With the above three steps you now understand what you can push, who you’re pushing it to and what you’re hoping to achieve by doing so. Now you can go on to create the actual strategies that you wish to use.
To be effective, you’ll want to have a marketing plan for all the steps of your sales cycle. That means you’re reaching out to new prospects (known as cold prospects) as well as re-engaging those familiar with what you’re offering – be they previous customers or simply people who have not yet bought your products but have shown an interest.
These require different steps. For example, cold prospects are best approached by way of public relations and advertising campaigns. People who already have a relationship, however, are going to be more effectively reached by a one on one outreach program, like email or sales calls. Often, these interpersonal outreaches are essential to actually close the deal.
Set a budget
The final step is to set a budget. This means both knowing how much you’re going to spend overall as well as deciding what you’re going to spend on each of the individual aspects including the actual outreach as well as the people you’ll have working on it.
Generally, you’ll want to make an initial well-funded push. This will help make sure that your name gets out there quickly. Also, it will help make that first impression (and you never get a second chance to make one, so make it count).
Don’t be afraid to spend some time going back and forth across these steps to tighten your plan. Also, once the ball gets rolling, go ahead and shift things around. After all, no plan lasts after the first bullet has been fired.