Do you have a marketing plan?

Marketing planRunning a business without a marketing plan is like driving without mapping your travel route.   You know your final destination but how you get there is left to chance.

A marketing plan is just as important for a small busines as it is for big corporations.   Yet so many business owners think it’s all to complicated.  In fact, it’s very important and if you know your business and your customers, it will take you very little time.  

Planning ahead for your business cycle

Marketing is often more reactive than proactive.   How many times do you find you only think about advertising when business is slow? 

If you have a seasonal business, when should you advertise?  It’s important to stay top of mind with your customers during slow periods, and give them reasons to knock on your door when the time is right.

Keep it simple

Your marketing plan should only be two or three pages, because you’ll need to refer to it frequently during the year.  

Here’s what you need to include:

1. Immediate goals

Start by writing an overview of your products and services and your goals for the immediate future.

2. Who is your ideal customer?

Define your target market. Where can you find them?

3. Who do they compare you wtih?

What do your competitors look like and what is your unique competitive advantage?

4. Now for the SWOT

What are your strenghts, weaknessess, opportunities and threats?

5. Advertising and promotion strategy

Ok, here’s where we get to the exciting iniatives.  For each activity, write down what you want to achieve and include a budget and timeline.  Be specific and realistic – is this achievable and can you measure the results?

Don’t be afraid to try something new and take a risk.  What may have worked a few years ago may now be obsolete, and as your customers become more savvy and technology changes you may need to reach them through new channels.

Some ideas to consider include:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media
  • Your website
  • Direct mail
  • Local advertising
  • Unaddresssed mail
  • Sponsorship
  • Joint advertising

Measure your return on your investment

The only way to know if something is working is to measure the results.  Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, tweak your ideas and try again.

Just like your business, your marketing plan is organic and will evolve.  So make time throughout the year to review it and change as necessary.

Do you have a marketing plan?  We’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

Comments

  1. Oh do I ever preach this to any business I talk to! You would be amazed how many businesses do not have one! I do not see how any business can be successful without one. This is a service I offer to my clients – it’s vital to their business.

  2. Hi Vicky! This is a wonderful and informative post! I agree! Marketing should be kept simple! Being specific and realistic is a key point! Thanks! I look forward to your next article! May I also take a moment to wish you all the very best for 2012! You can do it!

  3. I gotta be honest: after 20 years in business I am giving up the Marketing Plan and going on marketing instinct. It’s different kind of road map: to do what feels right. Everyone has the inner guidance they need to find their way. Sometimes the road map can take all the fun out of the trip. Perhaps its more about finding balance: have a plan if that feels right, and leave room for the unexpected, the spontaneous, the side trips that take you in a new direction.
    I do love measuring, though; sometimes you find out that your success really are more spectacular than you thought!

  4. Rob Hodgins says:

    Ah! Perfect. My marketing plan is 2 years old, in desperate need of an overhaul (it didn’t include social media), and seems so overwheliming to me that I’ve been putting it off for months.
    At last, a simple approach that makes sense.

    Thank you!

  5. Solvita says:

    Thank you so much for sharing Vicky. I like simple things ~ it is ideal! 🙂

  6. Love it. Time to sit down and review a new marketing plan. Thanks for sharing! (-_-)
    The LEARNED Preneur @ NormaDoiron.NET

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