With so many communication platforms out there, it is hard not to get sucked into worrying about your next blog post, your next tweet, or your next event at the expense of thinking about your overall marketing strategy.
We know you’re busy running your business or you’re busy conceiving the details of your new venture.
So why does it make sense for you spend time writing a marketing plan?
For us, the benefits are many. Above all, it sets the foundation for how you are going to serve and win customers. It ensures that you are connecting all of the dots, from your plan to your implementation.
At the end of the day, planning will help you compete more effectively and at a lower cost because you’re hitting the right target with the right message at the right time.
Some of the key elements that you’ll work on include the following:
1. Selecting your target market
2. Deciding what you’re going to offer them
3. Setting a price that is justified by your value
4. Developing a program to reach them
5. Increasing the number of ways they can buy from you
6. Educating and energizing others to support your goals
Recently, we had a one-hour coaching session with our local economic development organization. Almost before we finished sitting down after saying hello, they were peppering us with questions about our goals and the right way to market our assets.
We were glad we had a marketing plan written out that we used to answer some of their questions!
This conversation reinforced one of the principles that we believe in: bring in diverse perspectives to your planning process. The challenging questions posed to us made us go back and refine our strategy. For example, they felt our goals were not ambitious enough.
Wow, that was an eye-opener!
It is highly likely that you will need others to support your success. These people can range from employees to channel partners to bankers. Having a plan that you can talk about and/or share, will go a long way towards getting people to align with the plans you’ve set out.
Think about this: is anyone going to give you money unless they feel you know what you’re going to do with it and the return they’ll get from you?
Okay, maybe your loved ones, but a well thought out plan is an essential part of this asking process.
Don’t you like to be prepared to take advantage of opportunities that suddenly appear for you?
Contingency planning is another important component of your marketing plan. It is an exercise of playing “what if?” and detailing out what you’d do about it. So, let’s say that you find out that one of your competitors is closing its business. Well, that presents an opportunity for you to gain new customers. Yes!
Your contingency plan gives you your “to do” list to take advantage of this development. For example, it could include steps such as stepping up your advertising or perhaps even approaching the closing business and negotiating to buy their client list or having them refer their clients to you.
Would you also like to be totally prepared to protect your client base in case something goes wrong?
Time and time again, we see large companies, who should know better, fall flat with poor responses to situations that come up. Playing “what if?” as part of your marketing plan can give you an action plan on what to do if this horrible thing happens. For example, notifying employees, providing your customers with the latest information via your FB page, tweeting out updates, etc.
Online Business Foundations 101
In this course, you’ll develop basic literacy in the language of business, which you can use to start or grow your own small business.
Starting an online business can be fun and exciting. It can also be scary and confusing! The first step is to decide on a business–and this may be the hardest part, since there are so many to choose from.
We’ll provide plenty of templates to help you through each section!
Miriam Vializ-Briggs is a marketing consultant with 25+ years of marketing strategy and execution experience, garnered as an executive at IBM, American Express and Kraft General Foods. She has created solutions and marketing strategies in a number of industries including banking, biotech, packaged goods, energy, healthcare, industrial, insurance, restaurants, retail, and travel & entertainment.