Back to Basics – How To Create A Marketing Plan For Your Business
With all of the great ways there are to market your business within today’s digital world, many business owners often lose sight of their core marketing plan. Or, you may have never actually designed an actual business plan to begin with. No matter how well you know your business, it is always a good idea to draw up a basic business plan, if for any reason just to set goals and monitor your progress. Below are my top 5 areas of any good business plan outline that you can use as a guide to get started:
Identify your top products and services + mission
I know this sounds basic but believe it or not we run into business owners fairly often who have lost sight of what their core business offering even is – at least in their marketing message and online presence. Identifying your core products/services offering is essential to not only staying on track but is especially important when it comes to online marketing since those “keywords” are how Google and other search engines connect your website and social media profiles to your ideal prospects. Example: If you sell business coaching services as your core business then much of your website, social media profiles, and print materials need to speak to that. Next, this may sound old-fashioned but make sure to at least identify what your company’s mission statement is. Customers like to see that you’re consistently striving for greatness and to become a leader in your industry.
Who are your target markets and clients/customers?
To become successful in your field, it is crucial to know the specific make-up of who your target clients/customers are so you can effectively market to them. Rather than spending loads of money on the “shotgun approach” marketing to the masses, identify who your target audience is, learn “where they hang out” (either physically or more likely online), and try to learn as much as you can about them. This includes: what are their buying habits, what is their “sweet spot” comfort level on price ranges, how loyal are they to their current preferred brand, etc. The more you know about who your ideal customer is, the easier it is to market to them.
You must not only find a way to be superior to your competition but your edge must be one that is powerful enough to change consumers’ minds.
Identify your competitors
It is critical that you identify who your going up against no matter what it is that you’re selling. The obvious competitive analysis is price comparison but often times it is also good research how your competitor’s customers are responding to their products/service. One example is the challenges many local retailers face today in going up against the mighty “big box stores” who sell the same products. The smaller retailers still, in many cases, do well even going up against a Walmart or Home Depot because they’ve identified a niche: superior, old-fashioned, face-to-face customer service. Example: When I have something around the house I need to fix, I’ll go to my local Ace Hardware over Home Depot every time. The reason: I know the employees at Ace have a wealth of experience and have actually completed the task I’m about to undertake numerous times themselves. I also feel that they are generally more friendly than the larger big box store employees because their are fewer of them working at Ace and therefore they behave more like a family than an enterprise of thousands of worker bees. Conclusion: You must not only find a way to be superior to your competitor but that edge must be one that is powerful enough to change consumers’ minds.
How do you plan on marketing your business?
When you create a marketing plan, it is important to write down all the ways you plan on marketing your business and stack rank these initiatives in order of importance. Your list might include: Online Marketing (website, Google adwords, Facebook ads, etc), social media marketing (Facebook business page, Google plus, twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube videos, etc), trading ad space with strategic partners, local/physical marketing at your church or town fair / street festival, traditional print advertising such as direct mail, email marketing, and word of mouth / referrals. This is not a complete list but will hopefully help you get started in creating your top marketing channels.
Set goals and measure your progress often
This is the most often forgotten and also perhaps the most important aspect of any marketing plan: set and track your goals! Whether you set your goals low or high, you MUST write them down and measure your progress at least once per month. This is the only way to measure your performance and consistently challenge yourself to grow your business. A common mistake is to set your goals too high initially only to become disappointed when you feel like you’ve failed. Try starting out by setting your next goal at a level you’re fairly sure you can reach, then increase that goal for the next month or quarter in an effort to stay on an attainable pathway to sustainable growth.