Archive for

Why Your Business Needs a Marketing Plan

Almost every company that has a product to sell should engage in marketing activities. Marketing is used to communicate and negotiate with potential exchange business clients. Some types of marketing can be aggressive whereas other types are more effective in a subtle approach. When thinking about marketing, it is important to consider if you will need extensive marketing strategies to grow your business.

This is mainly done through a marketing plan. The components of a plan that will involve extensive marketing can include ways to stimulate and communicate to customers what you have for sale, or ways to increase the use of your services. Even non-profit organizations such as a hospital or museum can be found carrying out a marketing strategy and it would all start with a marketing plan. Often the plan of a company is not often will organized or well laid out. By reading it, it is obvious that they have not considered how to extensively market.

Quite a lot of multinational companies have also started to include more information on the demographics that will be targeted within the plan. This helps to concentrate marketing efforts on the right people that the product or service is geared towards. It will also decrease the amount of time spent marketing to the wrong demographics of people.

Ultimately the plan can help you see your target audience might be. This target audience is the customer in the consumer industry or the client in the business industry. The plan is needed to focus the attention on the customers who have previously purchased goods and services in the past, either for their own use or to give away as gifts.

These are the best customers as they might be counted on to make purchases in the future. There are other customers that a marketing plan can be used to target. For example, those a plan can be established for those customers that only purchased once in the past. It is also a very beneficial to think about sending marketing information to those who wanted more details about a product or service but have not purchased since receiving the last information.

Another reason in which a company will need a plan is to highlight the products and services it has available. When it is fully laid out on paper, the company might be able to see areas in which more marketing needs to be unleashed against a particular product. Without having this plan in place, a company can spend a less of its time concentrating marketing efforts on a product that might need more advertising and marketing directed at it. Therefore, anyone who is serious about operating a business should construct a marketing plan.

Writing a Successful Marketing Plan

The key to any successful business is to have a business plan. Without a plan how do you know where you are going and what your goals are? The same can be said about a marketing plan. A good marketing plan will detail how you obtain clients and retain clients after the sale. The difference between a business plan and a marketing plan is a business plan is what you do and a marketing plan is how you get to do what it is that you do. If you don’t have a plan to obtain and retain clients how do you know where your sales are coming from? Here are a few tips to create a good marketing plan:

1. You must know your target market

Are you in the business to serve “everyone?” If you are, you may not be as successful as you would like to be. If you are constantly a catch-all for every type of consumer you will find yourself exhausted at the end of the day catering to every need of every consumer. Instead work smarter instead of harder. Take one or two target markets in your industry and focus on catering to their needs. Become an expert in that area and you will never have to wonder where the next sale is coming from.

2. You must know how you are going to reach your target market

Does your target market read the newspaper? Is there an industry publication that they subscribe to on a regular basis? Would direct mail help to get your name in front of your prospects? By doing some basic research on your target market’s buying habits and their needs you should be able to create an effective marketing campaign that will get your phone ringing in no time!

3. You must have a follow up plan after the sale closes

After the sale closes do you send out a Thank You card and hope the client will remember you enough to not only work with you, but also refer you to their friends and family? Business and profits are lost when you hope someone remembers you enough to work with you again. If you do not have a plan to consistently stay in front of your clients on a monthly basis you will be losing out on potential future business. Doing a good job for a client is expected, but don’t expect them to remember your phone number because of it. Stay in touch with your past clients; they are your greatest source of future profits.

4. You must implement the plan on a consistent basis

People want to hear from you, but they do not want to hear from you only when you have something to sell them. If you have done the work and are an expert in your target market cater your marketing to that group. Send them a newsletter of information that will be beneficial to them. Of course you can include that you are looking for their business, but don’t make that the sole purpose of every mailing. The key is to consistently implement a marketing plan that shows your clients you care about them after the sale. This helps continue the relationship long after the transaction is closed and it makes you referable.

5. You must measure your results monthly, quarterly and annually

Before you do any marketing determine what your goals are for your business and for your marketing efforts. Do you hope to receive 10 phone calls from a mailing with 1 new client from those phone calls? Then write it down and measure your results after you do a mailing. Ask clients and prospects when they call if they are calling because they recently received a marketing piece from you. Record this information and keep track of it on a regular basis. Set aside an hour every month and determine what is working and what isn’t working. Reevaluate your marketing records every quarter and every year to determine what is working and what isn’t working. When you are making your annual marketing plan the marketing records will guide you in preparing and implementing next year’s plan. Sometimes it can seem like your marketing isn’t working at all but in reality you haven’t kept track of the results so you don’t know if it is working. This is a great opportunity to determine where to spend your hard earned marketing dollars and to keep repeating a marketing effort if it has worked for you in the past.

By taking the time to do it right and create a marketing plan you can follow you should never have to wonder where your next sale is coming from!

Copyright 2010 Automated Marketing, Inc.

Marketing Plan Myths Revealed

Just do a search for the term marketing plan and you are likely to be faced with approximately 9 million page results. Not only that, but if you go into some of the results you will find differing terms and differing opinions on how to develop the best one for your small business. It can all be a little confusing and could be one of the reasons why you do not have a marketing plan for your small business.

Before we look at the myths, it should be noted that just having a marketing plan will not guarantee success. It is the quality of the plan and importantly the implementation and tracking of the plan that will show you whether you are achieving your goals.

Myth 1 – Only Big Business Need a Marketing Plan
Remember successful big businesses today started as a small business. They know one of the secrets to success is to work on your business and set goals and decide on the key marketing strategies and tactics each year so time and money is not wasted.

Myth 2 – Marketing Plans Can be Developed in a Few Minutes
Wow, could we be so lucky. If you have never developed a marketing plan, then it will take you a little time to actually think through the key issues facing your small business and to work out what is the best plan of action to take. The good news is like everything else in life with more practice it gets easier and takes less time to update each year.

Myth 3 – You Need a Different Plan for Online and Offline
This is false because although the tactics or even the marketing strategies may be different, you will still only need to develop and implement one marketing plan for your business.

Myth 4 – You Only Need to Develop a Plan if You Have a Lot of Money to Spend
Having developed and implemented literally hundreds of marketing plans, I can tell you some of the best plans I have developed and implemented only had a tiny budget. A marketing plan helps you decide where you are going to spend your money and time to maximize your results.

Myth 5 – You Know all About Your Customers so You do not Need a Plan
Unfortunately this is one of the biggest myths. Customers can change the way they think, feel and behave towards your small business without you even being aware of the changes. It could be because there is a new competitor actively targeting your customers, or because of what is happening in the economy etc. Developing a marketing plan each year allows you to look at what worked during the year and what actions can be taken in the next year to ensure your key customers stay loyal.

There are many more myths about marketing plans, but in reality these myths are just misunderstandings. As growing a small business successfully is a journey, a plan just helps to make sure that each important goal during the journey is achieved more easily.

© Marketing for Business Success Pty Ltd 2008