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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.

Your Marketing Plan is Nothing Without This

How many plans have you been told you need from a banker, or a consultant, or an advisor?  A business plan?  Marketing Plan?  Finance plan?  Have you already done these plans?  Where are they now?  The majority of small business owners will probably say they are sitting in a binder, on a shelf in their office.  

Although I do not discount the importance of knowing the information that goes into each of the plans, they do you no good if they are ignored.  It’s typically not intentional, but the business of the day tends to take priority over a well laid out marketing plan.

That’s why I recommend using a daily marketing plan.  Your daily marketing plan isn’t a 50-page report with graphs and spreadsheets, its a simple 2 or 3 page summary that gets updated daily.  DAILY?  You say?  Yes!  I mean daily.  Let me show you how.

Creating a daily marketing plan is no different than creating a goal sheet or to-do list, because that’s essentially what it is.  A simple report that outlines your marketing goals for the day, the week, the month, and the quarter.  As you accomplish these goals, check them off the list and move onto your next task!  There’s no secret, no magic formula, and no mystery as to how you can track your marketing.

Of course, these goals should be based on what you would like to accomplish based on your business and marketing plan, but you don’t need to refer to the big binder daily, just pull it out every quarter, evaluate your progress, and update your daily marketing plan based on the information in your master plan.  It’s one sure way to ensure you are moving forward and meeting your goals.

Your daily marketing plan should be stapled together and left on your desk where you see it, review it, and touch it daily.  Have a random thought you want to explore but you’re too busy?  Mark it down in your daily marketing plan so you can refer back to it later.  The beauty of this plan is it is your plan, written for you as a guide.  Not written in “Banker” talk, not written in “Advertising” garble, but in your own words, by you, and for you.

As I’ve said before many tines, sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones.  I hope this tip helps you to track your marketing in a fast, simple and convenient way, which will result in a bigger bottom line for you and your company!