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Home Business Marketing Plan – Start With Your Niche

A marketing plan seems to be one of the toughest aspects of a business plan to pull together. Somehow we seem to overlook both the importance and the method of creating a marketing plan for our home business. A marketing plan is not simply a list of strategies or compilation of places to advertise.

Your marketing plan starts with your mission statement and your vision for your business. Your mission statement is what the business will become. When we develop our business plan, we create a vision of what we intend for our business – what we want our business to DO and become eventually.

At the core of your mission statement is your target customer. Don’t overlook what your business will become to your customers and clients. This is a critical part of your business plan.

A customer focused business plan will generate a strong effective marketing plan as well. Once you have developed a strong sense of what your business will become to your ideal customer, then it is time to create your marketing plan. Your ideal customer is your niche market.

Don’t lose sight of the fact your target market are people. A mission statement focused on what your business hopes to accomplish for your clients will make setting goals and strategies easier and more effective. Writing out what you will do for your clients will take you down the right path – the literal path to your customers.

Once you have wrangled that mission statement into submission and have fine tuned what your business will DO for your customers. It is finally time to learn everything you can about your current and future customers. Remember, this is an ongoing process – knowing your customers. Your marketing strategies will depend on your expertise on who your clients are AND what they need.

Essentially, your marketing plan consists of “bridges” you will build that connect YOU to your customers. That is why you must know both your customer and what your business will do to meet your customers needs or wants.

For your business to be marketable, it must offer something your niche market needs or wants. Building your business based on what your clients need then delivering exactly what they were looking for will ensure repeat sales, visits even referrals as they tell others what your business did for them.

It’s actually a critical step to develop a complete profile of your ideal client.

Why?

Because THAT person is who is at the center of your marketing plan. Every aspect of your business should be designed to ATTRACT that person you are trying to reach. Knowing that person you want to connect with will guide every one of your marketing strategies.

Think about it.

Your niche market is out there…looking for what you offer. Realize that each “strategy” is a bridge to your target market. Every word or image used in marketing will be geared toward that person you trying to convince to do business with you. Your marketing strategy? Build bridges specific to your niche that bring your business into their lives, such as…

Groups that your customers participate in – both online and locally.

Direct marketing from postcards to flyers – designed to SPEAK to your ideal customer.

Writing articles that focus on issues important to your target market.

Community events, trade shows and networking events – both in person and online.

Press Releases

Web site design and development – remember that your website is only effective if you are drawing targeted visitors.

So remember WHO you want to bring directly to your website then make every page reflect what YOU will do for your customers. Construct bridges that your customers will readily cross with faith in your ability to deliver what you offer.

Such bridges take PLANNING and you can only plan effectively when you KNOW your niche market. Engineer your own success ~ Start with your niche.

Why Does Your Business Need a Good Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan is a written document that details the necessary actions to achieve one or more marketing objectives. It is meant to be a structured way of dealing with marketing issues, not a random collection of incomprehensible bits and pieces. It should be a key component of a business plan and is essential to planning the overall direction that you want your business to take. A marketing plan is not something that you write and then forget. It needs to be followed, monitored and updated. You want to regularly evaluate a your plan to make sure you are reaching the goals you set.

Marketing plan objectives are typically on the level of sales, profit, return on investment or, for larger businesses, market share. Marketing is a function of business and has many dimensions, including market research, customer service, advertising, targeting, packaging, pricing, e-marketing, and others. Marketing plans, even those created within a small company, can vary in scope, format, length, and level of detail they do however typically include similar types of information.

Developing a good marketing plan is essential to the success of any business because you need to get everyone focused on the same issues and that’s what your plan should do. You need to customize your plan to suit your business and its objectives. It needs to be simple and to the point. In it you want to state your marketing objectives and do so in a way that your goals are very clear for everyone that might be involved with accomplishing the plan itself. Your marketing strategy needs to be clearly defined. It’s your plan of action for achieving each of your goals.

Marketing Actions are the tactics you plan to use to give your plan a life of its own. Developing a solid marketing strategy is the foundation of a well-written marketing plan and must be carefully considered before committing to it.

While a marketing plan contains a list of actions, If it does not have a sound strategic foundation it is of little use. The objectives in your marketing plan need to state just where the company intends to be; at some specific time in the future. The marketing objectives must usually be based, above all, on the organization’s financial objectives. If the marketing plan is to work, every exception to it must be questioned. Before you deviate from your plan you need to ask why you should do so. During the course of the year the lessons learned need to be documented so that they can be incorporated into the next year’s plan.

A marketing plan for a small business typically includes descriptions of direct competitors that are marketing similar products. What the level of demand for the product or service is. A description of the product or service, including special features. What your marketing budget is, including the advertising and promotional plan. A description of the business location, including the advantages and disadvantages of your location. And what your pricing strategy is going to be. A marketing plan is, after all, a structured way of dealing with marketing issues, not a random collection of incomprehensible bits and pieces.

This kind of balanced view is important to show risks are being recognized. Like a business plan, a marketing plan is an essential guide. Some business owners don’t understand the value of a good plan. Every start-up venture and existing business needs a business plan, yet many entrepreneurs don’t realize a marketing plan is equally vital to your business success. A marketing plan is required if you want your business to become a household name. It plan provides structure to the marketing efforts of your business.

Organic Vs Paid Traffic in Your Small Business Internet Marketing Plan

As more and more businesses seek to attract more customers using the Internet, their owners get confused about such terms as “organic traffic” and “paid traffic”. Well here’s what the terms mean, the advantages and disadvantages of both and how to include both into your small business internet marketing plan.

Organic Traffic

Just as the name implies, traffic generated organically is that which arrives at your site a natural byproduct of just being in business and doing business. As the name of your business and your products and services are spread around on the Internet, it will become increasingly recognized. For example, the more places you have listed your company and the more links are on pages around the net pointing to your website, the higher its name will be listed on the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing).

Each reference to your company, especially its listing in directories and search engines, has an accompanying keyword or keywords under which the name will be ‘filed’ when the reference to it is located. The more such references it gets, the higher and higher the company name will be ranked. When an Internet visitor does a search on a specific keyword, such as “plumbers in Pittsburgh”, the search engine refers to its files and displays, down the center of the page, each of the names that are in its index which closely match the requested term. If your company name has more and more relevant references than others, it will likely be listed first.

Since few people look much beyond the first page of search results, it really can pay to have a tremendous quantity of good references to your company. This will help your company to be listed within the first 10 results and thus allow you to capture the treasured page one spot in your category!

Therefore, by heavily promoting your company through articles about your products and services, directory listings, video publications, forum posts, blog entries, etc., you can really ‘push’ your company name to the top of the organic search engine rankings. This, of course, is free of cost, except for the time and energy that is put into creating such a buzz.

Paid Traffic

There are several ways that you can purchase traffic on the Internet. Some are more effective than others and some can be very costly.

The most common is a process called “Pay Per Click”, of which Google’s AdWords program is the most often used. In these programs, you (the advertiser) establish a small 4 line ad, a video ad or a banner ad, and have some associated keywords. Whenever a search is made on that keyword (or other related keywords), your ad is displayed free of charge on the rightmost column of the search results page. The order in which those ads appear is based on the relevance of your ad and the page to which you wish traffic to be directed (your quality score) and the amount you are willing to pay to get the associated traffic.

There is sort of an auction on ad placement and ads can cost from 15 cents to $20 or more per click. That depends on the competitiveness of your respective market and the keywords being used. By doing some exhaustive keyword research, you can usually find some keyword phrases which will target your traffic effectively and will cost less than more generic, industry-wide terms.

Pay-Per-Click programs can be used very effectively, but they must be closely monitored or they can quickly get out of hand. Google, for example, allows you to establish a daily limit of the amount that you are willing to spend on advertising each day and when you reach it, your ads will automatically stop appearing. Pay Per Click is nice since you pay absolutely nothing unless and until someone clicks on your ad and is directed to your site.

Other paid traffic sources involve placing banner ads on various websites and newsletters in your industry category. These are usually charges for on a CPM or cost per thousand impressions. That means if a site is viewed by 35,000 people, then your ad will have 35,000 impressions and you will pay for the ad based on the number of people to which your ad is displayed (rather than taking any action).

You can also pay for listings and ads in various trade publications, both online and in the more traditional, printed media.

Time Until Effective

When creating a small business Internet marketing plan, it is really important that you consider and allow for a mixture of organic and paid traffic sources. The more time and energy you are willing the put into creating a buzz in the organic arena, the less you will need to spend on paid traffic sources. Recognition of your company on the organic side of things can take quite a long time, depending on the effectiveness of your marketing blitz. If you need or want to have targeted traffic really quickly, then you will need to use some amount of Pay-Per-Click advertising. You can get traffic from Pay-Per-Click within a few hours, but it will cost you a few dollars.

Your Cost Per Acquisition

In order to properly determine your Internet marketing budget, you really need to have a good understanding of what it presently costs you to get a new customer to your business. This is called your Cost Per Acquisition or CPA. If you were to simply determine the number of new customers you had last year and divided that by your marketing cost, that would give you a rough CPA. For example, if you attracted 500 new customers last year and your marketing cost was $20,000, your CPA would be $40 (20,000 customers divided by $20,000 cost).

You can then experiment using Pay-Per-Click to see if you can attract customers using that method for less than $40 each. It may take you, for example, 1,000 visitors at $.25 each to get 30 real prospects and 7 new customers, so your CPA for that would be $36. (1,000*.25=250 divided by 7 new customers=$36). While the $36 CPA would be good, you also have to consider the additional 23 targeted prospects that you now have on your marketing list. These are an added benefit that will likely mean some additional new customers over time, as you market to them.

Working Your Plan

If you work at your small business Internet marketing plan very logically, you will first determine your current CPA and then design the proper balance of organic and paid traffic that will keep the new customers coming to your business!