What does the marketing plan for your business look like? If you take the time to do detailed research on creating a Marketing Plan, you’ll find that there’s a great deal of information available on the topic. Let’s explore this together.
What is a Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is a detailed document that includes the data you need to make marketing decisions and set a course of action that you can implement immediately.
The marketing plan for your business is an important segment of your business plan; but whereas your business plan covers all aspects of your business, your marketing plan covers only the marketing side. It provides the roadmap for your marketing success, and is essential for maximizing your marketing efforts.
A critical element of your marketing plan should always be to determine who your ideal customers are and how to reach them so that you can deliver excellent customer service and build a relationship with them.
Keep in mind that marketing plans come in all shapes and sizes. The right marketing plan for your business depends on many different factors, and does not mean that you have to create volumes of pages. However, for it to be meaningful to your business, it should have the following four key elements:
- Market Analysis: A detailed analysis of your market, your customers, your competitors, among other
- Marketing Goals: Defining your marketing goals and how they tie into your overall business goals.
- Marketing Mix: Strategies and tactics you’ll use to achieve the goals
- Marketing Budget: A budget for your expenses and revenues.
Why is market research important?
The importance of doing market research is highlighted in the article, “How to Do Market Research – The Basics” at Entrepreneur.com. Note the following: “Failure to do market research before you begin a business venture or during its operation is like driving a car from Texas to New York without a map or street signs,” says William Bill of Wealth Design Group LLC in Houston. “You have to know which direction to travel and how fast to go. A good market research plan indicates where and who your customers are. It will also tell you when they are most likely and willing to purchase your goods or use your services.”
How Will You Reach Your Customers?
Whether you are marketing a service or product, one of your biggest challenges is to determine how you will reach your customers. Doing a study of what your competition is doing is highly recommended. This is especially helpful if you’re studying someone who has been in business for a while. Your ideal situation would be that they have been in business for a while and have created a Marketing Plan, which they’re currently using in their business. They would already have done the research to find out what works best, giving you a basis to model.
I’m reminded of a study I did several years ago for a class business project. At the time I was only familiar with one of these chain stores as the other was not yet popular in Florida. This study revealed that two of the largest national hardware stores in the United States are often built in close proximity to each other. The first would build a store after careful study of the demographics, etc. It did the market research. The other chain store would take advantage of that research and build a store in the area as well. While both stores offered, and continue to offer similar products, there are some differences as well. And interestingly they each have their own loyal customers.
In a similar way, by observing, researching, and evaluating those who serve your ideal customers, you can assess what they’re doing, what could be done better, or in another way, where there is a gap, and find a way to fill that gap with your unique product or service.
Methods to Reach Your Market
The following are some offline and online marketing methods to reach your market, your ideal customers, that can create growth in your business, increase visibility, expand your credibility, and ultimately increase your revenue and profits:
- Article Marketing
- Excellent Customer Service
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Affiliate Marketing
- Press Releases
- Printed Materials – business cards, brochures, and flyers
- Networking – Attending local events, like the Chamber of Commerce and other networking events in your community
- Telephone and Follow-Up
Blogging is not optional. It must be an integral part of your business. Many small businesses don’t want to blog because it involves ‘writing’ and I hear entrepreneurs and small business owners say over and over, ‘I’m not a ‘writer.’
Blogging can be extremely simple. It does not have to be complicated. This is why it makes a perfect element in an online marketing plan.
Blog posts can be as short as 300 words or even less. They can include videos and images. Each post can cover one simple topic and the writing doesn’t have to be magazine-grade. One important key is to write in a conversational tone as if you’re talking to a friend and proofread so that there aren’t any grammar or spelling mistakes.
The way to blog headache-free is to set aside a little time each week to write and post. Carve out an hour or so to write something and post it. If you have a team member who can write well, delegate the task to them.
I have used and continue to use many of these methods. Some, like Article Marketing, may not appear to be as effective as they were four or five years ago; but Article Marketing is still a viable method of getting your message to a larger audience. Many of the articles I’ve written over the years have been instrumental in driving traffic back to my various websites, and allowed some of my work to be published in online publications.
When you have created intellectual property that continues to market for you without any active involvement on your part, this is a great way to increase the effectiveness of your marketing plan and your marketing results.
Customer service or customer satisfaction means that you take the time to identify the needs of your customers, whether they are online or offline, and satisfy those needs. The result is loyal customers. When you have loyal customers they will spread the word about your business and are willing return to do business with you time and again.
Word of Mouth
“Satisfied customers who will spread word of mouth are the most powerful assets you have.” “You will get more word of mouth from making people happy than anything else you could possibly do.”
The above are two quotes from the book, “Word of Mouth Marketing” by Andy Sernovitz.
It’s much easier to get people to know, like and trust you when they’ve been referred to you by people who already do. Hence, Word-of-Mouth marketing is not to be over-looked.
So, which of these are in your Marketing Plan? Which of these will you implement in your Marketing Plan?
There can be no doubt that as small business owners and entrepreneurs you can get overwhelmed with the volume of things you have to do. As a result, one of the things that often fall by the wayside is marketing.
The question has been asked and answered in various ways, “How much time should be spent on marketing?” One of my first Mentors shortly after I started learning Online Marketing, emphasized that 60% of our time should be spent on marketing for it to be effective. This sounds like a lot of time when you’re doing everything. Others have recommended as much as 75%. The answer, to some extent, depends on the type of business you have and the systems and structure you have in place.
An important thing to keep in mind is that your marketing strategies will involve active and passive ways to market your business. Blogging, Article Marketing, Press Releases, and Word-of-Mouth Marketing will continue to work for you. Yes, you do have to promote them, but once your systems are in place, you can focus on other areas and incorporate other methods.
Earl Nightingale said, “All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.” Your Marketing Plan is essential. What does the Marketing Plan for your business look like?
I’d love to hear about your Marketing Plan. What questions do you have about creating a Marketing Plan for your business? Do you have questions or concerns about adding a blog to your business? I invite you to leave your comments and questions on the post or use the Contact Form on my website: http://YvonneAJones.com/Contact-Me.
My Next Event
If you’ve not created a marketing plan for your business and you do want to set that as one of your goals for 2016, I encourage you to join my upcoming “Accelerate Your Success with SMART Goals” workshop, which starts Tuesday, February 23, 2015.