Creating a Marketing Plan for Your Website

Have you created a marketing plan for your Website? If not, it is time to think about developing one. An Internet marketing plan helps you make the right day-to-day and long term decisions. Without a marketing plan it is more likely your Website will be a drain on finances rather than a business builder.

Creating a marketing plan need not be scary or difficult. It does not require a marketing degree or a lot of experience. You do, however, need to put some quality time into writing your plan. There are different ways to write a marketing plan one of which is to create a marketing plan outline (or single summary page) through a five step process.

5 Steps to Creating a Marketing Plan

Those five steps are:

1. Gather and Analyze Information

2. Verbalize Your Main Challenge(s)

3. Develop Your Website Objective(s)

4. Create Strategies

5. Choose Marketing Programs

As you create your marketing plan fill in the knowledge you gained while developing the five steps.

Step 1: Gather and analyze information.

You will need information about your company, competitors, customers, and other industry players to reference while creating the plan. This includes all you can find about how the Internet is currently being integrated in your industry with respect to products, promotions, pricing structures, and distribution channels. From this information, you can complete industry and SWOT analyses as well as identify your target customers.

Step 2: Verbalize your main challenge(s).

Write down the main Internet related challenges you want to overcome as a result of your plan. Referring to these main challenges will help keep you focused while creating your marketing plan You may even want to write your challenges down in question form – “How do we _____________?”. When your marketing plan is completed, it will answer the question “How do I address these challenges?”

Step 3: Develop your Website objective(s).

The objective addresses the “big picture”. Your objective answers the question “How will I overcome my main marketing challenge(s)?” in broad, general terms. If your company’s main site-related challenge is figuring out how to use your Website to help build client business, for example, an objective for your Website marketing plan could be “To enhance online client service as well as build site awareness and interest with clients.”

Step 4: Create strategies for the marketing plan.

Strategies support your objective, defining the general approaches you will take to meet your objective. For example, strategies to support the objective outlined in Step 3 could include 1) improve online communication, information, and education, 2) build awareness of and interest in your company on the Internet, and 3) communicate the Website’s existence and advantages to existing clients.

Step 5: Choose marketing programs (tactics).

Marketing programs are where the action takes place – these are the things you will do to bring your strategies to life. Marketing programs to support strategy 2 in the above example (improve online communication, information, and education) could include 1) sharing experience and observations in your industry through participation in discussion boards, 2) offering an email newsletter, and 3) listing/submitting your site to targeted search engines and directories.

The Write Up

Once you have created a marketing plan summary by working through the five steps, there are numerous ways to create an expanded write up. If you are a company employee, there may be existing format and content you must follow. You can find some write up suggestions in “What to Include in Your Marketing Plan Write Up” at http://www.websitemarketingplan.com/Arts/WritePlan.htm [out].

After the initial plan is created, you should treat it as a work in progress. Tweak and adjust as needed in response to changing conditions. Many companies update marketing and business plans annually when developing budgets for the coming year.

Whether you are a one-person shop or part of a good-sized company, having a Website marketing plan can help your business prosper on the Web.

Creating Your Future with a Marketing Plan

Almost everyone who dreams of starting their own business is familiar with the fact that they should create a business plan. However, often that’s where many people stop. When you created your business plan, what did you do with it? You actually have the base for the next step, which is creating your marketing plan. Without the plan of how you are going to market your business, the business plan is just an empty jumble of words speaking of dreams and desires. The marketing plan takes those dreams and creates a strategy for how to make those dreams come true.

There are several different suggestions on how to put a marketing plan together, but all plans have at least seven or eight steps. These steps include preparing a mission statement, describing the services provided, identify and understand the competition, spell out the marketing objectives and strategies, create the action plan, and create a monitoring strategy in order to determine what works and what doesn’t.

Prepare a mission statement

The mission statement should clearly and succinctly describe the nature of your business, services offered, and markets served in just a few sentences. A mission statement is a statement of who you are and what you stand for. It answers the question of why you are in business. Although there are many, many different theories on what makes a good mission statement, here is a site of various examples; http://www.csuchico.edu/mgmt/strategy/module1/sld015.htm

List your ideal client

I cannot emphasize this enough. You have to know who your ideal client is, and what their issues are, extremely finitely in order to speak to them. You have to visually be able to see them in front of you and know what makes them tick. Be very specific in identifying your ideal client. Include age, sex, income, education, occupation, geographic region, lifestyle, attitudes, purchasing characteristics, etc. What are their values, what do they like to do. Really get clear who this person is.

Describe your services

Imagine everything you want to do, either currently or in the future. It’s OK if you haven’t done it before: If it’s a dream that you provide in-home cooking demonstrations, include that in your list. You will later determine how to make it happen. Include all details of what you offer, where and for how much. Determine what your prices must be to cover your costs. Don’t leave anything out even if you’re not sure it’s something you want to do this year.

Who is your competition?

In order to know how to position yourself from your competition, you must know who your competition is. Do some research and determine what your competition offers, how they promote, what they charge for services, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Don’t rush through this section. Make phone calls, check the internet, and ask people you know. Feel free to call the people you find and ask questions. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, ask a family member or friend to do it.

Marketing objectives and strategies

Marketing objectives will indicate targets to be achieved across several marketing decision areas. Examples could include such things as what products/services you wish to offer, who you plan to offer them to, how you plan to make your services known, your promotional objectives, etc. Objectives should be clear, measurable, and have a stated time frame for achievement. Objectives included should include both marketing objectives and financial objectives.

Get very specific with your objectives, such as how many clients will you have by what date, how much revenue you will bring in by what date, and exactly where these new clients will come from. Who will you include your marketing to? For financial objectives, you need to be clear about what growth percentage you expect and how you will achieve that growth.

Marketing strategy

This is your game plan to achieve your marketing objectives. You are now getting into the nitty-gritty. This is where it’s time to play and play big! The marketing strategy should include information about your product, your price, how you will promote or create awareness of your product or services, and how you will distribute that information.

Examples of basic marketing strategies include networking, brochures, ads in newspapers, various programs or presentations, press releases, to just name a few. Some may cost you a great deal, but there are many marketing strategies that cost you very little or just your time. Gauge what your time is worth and how busy you are to determine how much of these strategies you will do on your own. You will further determine this by the next step, however.

When a strategy works, repeat it. If it fails, and you did it right, drop it. Learning to develop strategies that work for your particular situation and personality will take time and practice.

Create the action plan

Once the objectives and strategies have been developed, put together an action plan describing the steps that need to be taken in detail. This is your actual game plan for how you will accomplish all that you have written about in your business plan and previously in the marketing plan. It will include what the specific objective is, exactly what and when the steps will be taken, what results you expect to see, the marketing tactics you will employ and so on. This will be your template for your marketing calendar that you will create in the following step to creating your business.

Monitor results

By monitoring results, you can determine which of your strategies are working and which are not. Identify strategies that generate increased business. This involves tracking and evaluating clients’ responses to each marketing strategy. Conduct regular surveys in order to find out what clients like and don’t like.

Client comments are invaluable for creating or enhancing your market literature. With permission, these comments can be used as testimonials.

Creating a marketing plan is not something enough people take the time to work on. I have found this to be the hardest part for anyone in small business and have had to spend many hours, myself, struggling over some of these answers. I can’t emphasize how important it is to do this work, however. Skipping this step can mean the difference between success or failure. Many people who start a small business are aware of creating a business plan, and stop at the stage of the small market plan topics listed in the business plan. However, the business plan is just the first step. The marketing plan is not the final step, either! This document is the template for creating your marketing calendar that will set your projects in motion for the year. You are creating your future with the marketing plan, and then watching that future become reality with your marketing calendar.

Marketing – Five Ideas on Putting Together a Marketing Plan

Most owners of service businesses fail to put together any sort of marketing plan. Instead, they randomly and occasionally take some action that they characterize as marketing, but there’s not actually any plan to it. When they panic because they don’t have enough clients and their revenue is dropping, they desperately seize onto some sort of marketing activity.

However, there is no plan to it. There is no continuity. There is no clear messaging to their marketing writing. Also, they get few or no results. The next time your business is in such a situation, here are a few things to consider about how to put together a marketing plan.

1. Put together a marketing plan.

Set aside some time and put a few hours into deciding how you will market your business over the next year. What will you do? When will you do it? How will it work? What will you say? What will your marketing writing say? Where will you go? Who are you targeting as clients? Plan all the details in advance. Some of this will likely be projections rather than actual and detailed, but block them into a calendar anyway. You can do the research later.

2. Create a marketing plan that “plays to” your strengths and preferences.

Don’t plan to do public speaking if you’re not good at it and won’t do it. The same is true of writing or any other method. Create a plan around what you are good at and enjoy doing. Don’t expect that you’ll be able to force yourself to do something you hate doing. It won’t work.

3. Understand what outcomes you intend to get from your marketing efforts.

Of course, you’ll say, “more sales, more clients”, but often this is not a realistic short-term outcome. In the short term, your more realistic results would be things like:

* Being contacted by prospects

* Getting inquiries for information

* Being asked questions by curious and interested prospects

Of course, you must still go through the sales process with these potential clients, but realistically speaking, these are the typical responses your can expect from your marketing plan. It’s your job to turn interested prospects into clients.

4. Have a clear target market. You can’t put together an effective marketing plan without clarity on your target market.

If you don’t know who they are, you don’t know where they are. If you don’t know where they are, you can’t know where and how to access them. Don’t skimp on putting together a robust, completely clear, and detailed target market. This is critical to the success of your marketing plan.

5. Be prepared with effective written business materials and a web site.

Be sure that your marketing writing and website writing clearly brand your business and deliver all the needed information. As prospects respond and inquire, they will want to know more. You must be ready to supply them with what they need to know so that they will choose to move closer to being your client. Think about it. How impressed are you when you ask a potential provider for more information and they mumble and apologize for their poor written materials? You don’t seriously consider them as contenders for your business.

Plan your marketing and execute the plan. That is the only way to be sure that your service business has a steady flow of clients and revenue. Random “marketing” will not do that for you.