10 Tips To Creating A Marketing Plan For Your Business
If you are a small business owner, an entrepreneur or an independent contractor, you should have a marketing or business plan to use as a guidepost/compass to lead your business’ day-to-day activities.
Your plan does not have to be elaborate, nor does it have to be set in stone forever. However, it should specifically define key information including your target market and value proposition, as well as tactical ideas and action steps you will take in order to acquire customers and/or increase sales.
Here are 10 basic components to include in a Marketing Plan:
1. Product/Service Definition Describe your product or service in simple and easy-to-understand terms. Consider this message to be a written version of your 30 to 60-second “elevator speech” that clearly describes your company’s mission and raison d’être. Include your point of difference and communicate the intrinsic benefit/value your customer will receive.
2. Target Audience In conjunction with your company’s product/service definition, take the time to clearly describe your target audience. Be specific as to the demographics and psychographics of your ideal buyer. Focus your company’s resources and marketing tactics on these groups.
3. Goals & Objectives Set the bar as to what you want to achieve. Establish both short term and long term objectives for your company. Make your goals meaningful, specific, and measurable. Concrete goals such as revenue and new customers will help you keep an eye on the ball at all times.
4. Identify the Competition Is your competition a series of small local vendors, or is it a group of large national companies with ample resources? Or, is your product/service so unique that the resistance is really a lack of awareness? Either way, learn about and understand the competitive landscape. It will enable you to better position and target your message.
5. Pricing A guidepost for setting price involves estimating the monetary value your customer will receive, and understanding your financial goals and objectives. Also remember to price your product/service at a rate higher than your fixed and variable cost (don’t forget — you are in this to make a profit).
6. Establish a Marketing Budget Marketing expenses can add up quickly, so set aside a specific dollar amount per month or per quarter. Evaluate your marketing decisions such as advertising in the yellow pages or hiring sales representatives based on the amount of business that a particular initiative generates. Track each initiative and keep what works.
7. Look at Channels of Distribution The planning is over; it’s time to identify marketing tactics. Brainstorm a range of ideas to reach your target market with your value message. Bring friends into your idea generation. Be creative and don’t censor wild ideas. Pick at least 5 activities that you feel you can execute within your budget.
8. Set Specific Action Steps Each tactical idea comes with its own set of action steps/road map. For example, if you want to mail a brochure, you need to write (or outsource) the copy, design the mailing, print the brochure, create a mailing list.… Take the time to list the details that will get you to your desired end goal.
9. Set Timing for Each Step Listing action steps is not enough — you must establish a timetable for each step. Be realistic so that you do not set unreasonable expectations, thereby creating frustration for yourself. At the same time, be careful not to set goals so far out in the future that there is no sense of urgency for you to take action.
10. Get Accountability The best laid marketing plans fail when they end up in your bottom drawer, never to be seen again. Therefore, it is CRITICAL to have an objective coach hold you accountable for taking charge and executing your plan. Consider “hiring” this person to help write your plan. The more they believe in you and your ideas, the more helpful they will be in the long run.
Creating and sticking to a marketing plan is the best way to keep you and your business focused, and on track for success. Writing the plan is the easy part, sticking to it tends to be more difficult for most people.
It is highly recommended that you enlist the help of a trusted associate or coach to provide open and honest perspective/feedback as you work through the elements of your plan. More importantly, if you are serious about success, direct your coach to “hold your feet to the fire” and make you accountable for your actions. You will be glad you did.