Archive for

Marketing Planning Made Simple – Another Small Business Power Tool

Marketing planning must be really difficult and complex, otherwise why would there be so many books written on the subject … right?

Well, I’m just enough of a skeptic to believe that many of these books were designed more to make money for their publishers and authors than to make marketing planning simple and understandable.

I spent more than 30 years working with very successful small business people who never wrote a single marketing plan. Why didn’t they need complex, 100-page marketing plans chock full of statistics, charts and graphs like the experts recommend? It’s because they knew exactly where they wanted to take their companies and how to get them there and they were universally successful.

The fact is they basically carried their product “marketing plans” around in their heads. That’s how simple marketing planning can be. In fact, if you strip marketing planning down to its most basic elements, you could just about write your plan on the back of a napkin.

Okay, that might be a bit of an oversimplification, but let’s look at the six basic things you need to know for successful marketing planning.

1. The situation. Is this a new or existing product or service? If it has competition, how is it better than the competition? Bigger? Lasts longer? Easier to use? Offers more features? Priced better? You should be able to sum up your situation in a couple of sentences. If not, maybe you don’t really understand the situation.

2. The market. How big is the market for your product or service? This can be defined in terms of total dollars, number of units sold or any other quantifiable number. The important thing is to know the size of your market because only by knowing this can you define a marketing objective. You also need to define what the market looks like — Males, age 25-45? Soccer Moms? Working mothers? Seniors? Childless couples? A market isn’t just numbers, it’s people. And it’s important to understand where they are economically, what’s important to them, and what problems you can help them solve.

3. Strategy. Now that you have defined your situation and your market, it should be easy to develop a marketing strategy. For example, if your product is footless, control top panty hose, your strategy might be to “focus sales efforts on figure-conscience women age 34-45 during the spring and summer months.”

4. Tactics. If “strategy” is what you intend to do, “tactics” is what you need to do to accomplish it. In the case of the strategy example above, the tactics might be:

- Begin sales efforts against distributors by Feb. 1

- Have products in distribution pipeline by March 1 for delivery to retailers no later than April 1.

- Begin concentrated radio advertising in 12 key markets by April 15 …and so on

5. Objective(s). You can frame your objectives any way you want but you have to assign a number and a date. It’s no enough to say, “Successfully introduce the new product by year’s end.” In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up somewhere else.” If you don’t include a number and a time, you will never know whether or not you were really successful. Write objectives like “sell 5,000 units by December 31.” Then, on January 1, you can count sales and determine how successful you were. Best case, you will find you sold 5,000 or more units and will know your marketing planning was right on. And if you didn’t meet the objective? You should be able to at least learn a lesson and do better next time.

6. Budgeting. The final thing you need to consider is how much money you can spend to meet your objective. The best way to do this is break down your budgeting by tactics. If you need to reach 100,000 women to sell 10,000 units of your product, do you have the money to do this – in terms or radio, newspaper, TV or direct mail? Do you need collateral materials such as brochures or in-store displays? How much will these things cost? Depending on your product or service, you may also have to hire a PR firm or an advertising agency. Be sure to budget for this expense.

Can you add more elements to your planning? Of course. Just go buy one of these marketing textbooks and you’ll find pages and pages of information that could be incorporated into your plan. The point here is that maybe you don’t have to make your marketing planning a huge and laborious project. Do what many of my clients have done – keep it simple, something you can just carry around in your head if that’s your style. The important things are your situation, your market, your strategy and tactics, your objective and your budget. Know these things and you’re well on your way to success.

Building Your Business Marketing Plan and Referral Marketing System

Recently I had a conversation with a client about their business, their marketing plan and their referral system. Their question was, Should we be working by referral only, or should we consider other aspects of marketing? My feedback was simple; you should not be doing either with out a plan.

Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, services, organizations, and events to create and maintain relationships that will satisfy individual and organizational objectives.-Contemporary Marketing Wired (1998) by Boone and Kurtz. Dryden Press.

How does your marketing plan relate to your business plan, your mission statement or your vision statement? Your company’s business plan provides the environment in which your marketing plan must flourish. The two documents must have continuity between them according the American Marketing Association.

Inside your marketing plan, you look at all aspects of how you get your message to prospects that might be in need to your product or service. For instance, you may have advertising as one of your marketing activities. Under advertising you may have, TV, Billboard, Coupons, Radio, Google Ads, and so forth. For each of those you need a budget, a timetable to implement, a system to measure results, and a target market.

Your referral system should be part of your overall Marketing Plan. Unfortunately, most people do not have a plan for referrals. They might implement a reward system for people or customers who send them referrals and they stop there.

A good referral system should have a target market, a timetable for implementation, a budget, a training system for your referral partners, and a system for tracking your results. Your referral-marketing plan should be part of your over all marketing plan.

Should you be By Referral Only that is really a question that you must ask yourself. There are many business professionals who are by referral only, because they know they have plenty of work, many good clients and they know that referred clients have a longer shelf life, spend more money and are more likely to refer others to them.

  • Building your business by referral takes more time than money. (remember time is money) Relationships and trust take time and cannot be rushed or bought.
  • Advertising, PR, and many other forms of marketing take more money than time.
  • Both must have a plan.
  • Building your brand and your business takes a combination of both.

Business must stop letting referrals happen by accident, and they need to look beyond the “customer referral” to actually developing a plan to find, train and reward referral partners. Having a quality referral marketing plan will increase the quality and quantity of referred prospects. Organization like the Referral Institute work with business across the nation to develop their Referral Marketing Plan while the American Marketing Association supports a variety of professionals who can help a business develop their marketing plan.

If you are a new business owner or an established business owner, make sure you have a plan and review it often.

How to Build Your Twitter Marketing Plan

An ideal Twitter marketing plan is a list of everything that you hope to achieve for your corporation/business using Twitter or any other social network platform. This strategy should include a report of where your Twitter account is today, and where you want it to be in the nearest future, the goals that you want to achieve when that time comes, and the tools that you require so that you can get there. Basically, the more specific you are when developing the strategy, the better you will be when it comes to implementing that plan.

In general, you should try to make your marketing strategy as concise as possible. Avoid making your plan so lofty that it’s unattainable. this plan will not only help you make informed decagon, but it will also help you know whether you are succeeding or falling at Twitter, and believe me you do not want to set yourself up for failure.

STEP 1: CREATE TWITTER OBJECTIVES AND GOALS

The first step towards developing a perfect Twitter marketing strategy is establishing the goals that you hope to achieve after a certain period of time. With these goals, also helps you to know the right actions that you should take, when you feel that your Twitter campaigns are not working your way. Without these objectives, you have no way of gauging your return on investment or proving your success.

The simplest way of kick starting your Twitter marketing plan is writing down at least four Twitter objectives. Remember to ask yourself, what the objective will look like when you start implementing the plan you have, just use this to determine how you are going to move around your strategy and achieve your long term goals. Keep in mind that smart objectives are measurable, specific, attainable and relevant.

Step 2: Conduct a Twitter Review

Before building your Twitter marketing plan, you must examine your current Twitter use and the success it has brought to your business. To do this, you must be ready to check out who have been following your business products or operations via Twitter, ask yourself whether Twitter is the social media platform that the market you are targeting uses, and finally review your Twitter account to see whether it matches your competitor’s accounts.

Once you are done conducting the review, you should know how your business is fairing online, who controls your Twitter account and does it serve the purpose it was intended to? This will help you know the Twitter accounts that need to be updated and those that need to be deleted.

Step 3: Create New or Improve Your Existing Twitter Account

After reviewing your Twitter account, it’s now time to improve your online presence. Create a new account if you feel that your current one is not serving your purpose; just make sure that you integrate your audience and broader objectives. You can also refine the existing Twitter account and update them to fit your current business goals.

Step 4: Get Twitter Inspiration from Clients, Competitors and Leading-Industry Leaders

The main reason you should be on Twitter is because your clients, competitors and other leading business are already there. Your competitor’s presence on social media may not be good to your ears, but one thing that you learn is that there is a wealth of experience in these networks that you can combine into your Twitter marketing plan.

Use Twitter to listen to what your clients want and provide it, this way you will have an edge over your competitors because you will be able to meet your clients at their point of need.

Step 5: Develop a Content Plan

Great, creative and informative content is paramount to succeeding at Twitter. Your Twitter marketing strategy should include a perfect content marketing plan, made of plans for content curation and creation. Also remember to create an editorial calendar.

Step 6: Test and Evaluate Your Twitter Marketing Plan

Testing your Twitter marketing plan regularly will help make the necessary adjustments at the right time. Try tracking your links using utm codes and URL shorteners. Also, you can use Hootsuites Twitter analytics to track the reach of your Twitter campaigns. Analyze and report your success and failures, and adjust your Twitter marketing plan to yield results.