At Marketing 4 Real Results, we often speak to entrepreneurs and small business owners who sometimes feel overwhelmed about the steps needed to improve business processes, gain market share, increase their bottom line and take their business to the next level.
Due to the passion and love we have for the process of marketing, we like to use data to make decisions. We start each conversation by noting that marketing exists because of market demand and focus all marketing efforts to identify the true meaning of that statement. We know that consumers and businesses alike are looking to solve problems with their product/service. This leads us to either “Problem” or “Need” that we are in search and that is only done with a marketing plan.
Planning from every perspective either business or personal provides clarity. When we want to ensure good results, we plan. Taking this approach in business gets to great results. The time required to prepare a marketing plan sometimes scares people and instead of spending an adequate amount of time to walk through the vision of their business with a step- by-step plan, instead they wing it.
In many cases this works and in many cases it does not. If you know someone that has lost a business or got burned in a business the conversation can get dark quickly as well as his or her comments. To avoid that mindset and path that works for some and not for all, we recommend planning. It’s important to note, it’s not wise to fix a perfectly run business. The mindset here is if it’s not broke you should not try to fix it.
This can also be explained as, if you are having great success winging it, imagine where you could take your business with a plan. Having a marketing plan can also be a good idea if you are considering investors. Details like, industry trends, local economic stats and a layout of the competitive landscape.
Banks or investors will want to see trends and prospective customer data as well as projections of what the data may look like after five years including tables, graphs, charts and visual research.
Once we start asking questions, we usually quickly learn most of the dismay is because there is no marketing plan in place and nothing much more than that. The next element we quickly identify is a lack of integration of all marketing activity and unclear understanding of target customers/clients.
We have also observed times when sales goals are met with anxiety adding another layer of pressure. Some frustrations from improper planning include hiring without properly vetting. In which case, we always point out the true cost of a bad hire. The other factor is having teams working in silos in which case the web designer, IT personnel, social media marketer and graphics team are not operating from your business goals directly.
Your marketing plan will outline very specific actions needed to implement some form of marketing strategy. This will also lead to your business taking advantage of our robust economy. Remember that spending time, resources and energy to develop a marketing plan and then putting the outlined items into motion will lead to strategically growing your business. Below we outlined three result of having a marketing plan.
- What are the top marketing priorities for your business
- What marketing matters most for your business
- What is needed to build a cohesive marketing model
In a recent marketing plan article, we shared many different ways that you can grow a business and identified the ways that matter most by industry (see more blog post here) are the ones that work the best. Since we work with clients from different industries we have insight into what marketing processes translate into business and which are brand awareness. The cost associated with establishing data is a huge value and should be a goal throughout your business process. Every action tells a story and working smarter can maximize resources both financial and human.
A great principle of marketing is to test and review. For new product lines or an extended service offering by and measuring then tracking the sales funnel is advantageous. Another additional value of this formal process is the 360-degree view into the business, start and finish of a marketing campaign can be lead to a path of successfully identify business growth opportunities.
Wanting to increase sales, but having uncertainty regarding the steps to take will be answered in your marketing plan.
According to Search Engine Journal, 50% of SMB’s are not working from a marketing plan.
A good marketing plan brings clarity to your business workflow and gives you a predictable path to increase revenue over time and plan for success.
Top Priority For Creating A Marketing Plan
Simple and detailed plan closely aligned to core business goals, your customers and sales funnel.
The details of your marketing plan should include step-by-step instructions on how, when, where and what your business will do to increase sales.
What Matter Most To Your Marketing Plan
- An understanding of prospects
- The correlations between relationships and bottom line
- The number of revenue streams sustainable
- The customer service needs of your target audience
- Insight on top performing marketing channels by industry
- Best technology for business growth and efficiency
- Better data to use business decisions
How To Building A Cohesive Marketing Model
- Become an authority in your industry
- Build trust with consistent content messaging
- Attract leads through consistency and automation
- Effectively monetize services/products that your target audience needs
Having passion for your business and a marketing strategy is a path to great success. Again we have to mention that yes, many SMB’s have a good amount of success and do not have a written strategy in place. To them we say, good luck sustaining growth as competition heightens.
We spend a good amount of time in the industries of Real Estate, Cleaning and Restoration, Juvenile Products and Consumer Goods at Marketing 4 Real Results and when the profitability is high, the competition is steep, making strategy planning a game changer.
Sales and Marketing Strategies To Consider
- Prospecting Strategy
- Advertising Strategy
- Networking Strategy
- Social Media Strategy
- Content Marketing Strategy
- Email Marketing Strategy
Why Marketing Strategy Matters
Your marketing strategy is a comprehensive strategic plan that will affect the way you run your entire business and should be developed by considering employees, customers and business partners.
- Outline of marketing tactics
- Explanation of your business in the marketplace
- What is the need your product/ service fills
- Who are your best customers and competitor to consider
- Create a marketing plan and measure the effectiveness
Why Marketing Strategy Matters
Below are instructions from our years of working with small businesses and creating hundreds of marketing plans both large and small. Also shared learning and formal MBA training directives from our team in MM522 Marketing Plan Writing sessions. We express complete certainty in sharing the remaining content to give you crucial tips that will help you to grow your small business with an effective marketing plan.
Please keep in mind the importance of having a second opinion after the plan is laid out. This can be a member of your organization who has a marketing background or will manage a portion of the initiatives outlined. Doing this will ensure you do not omit crucial information.
What Questions Will Your Marketing Plan Answer?
- Who is your target audience? (Niche markets works best. Be sure to clearly and succinctly describe the segmentation).
- What are the unique characteristics of your product/service?
- What are the projected market opportunities, and threats to your success (SWOT)? (I.E. new parents, doctors, athletes).
- Who are your top competitors?
- How will competitors respond to your business entering the market?
- How do you plan to effectively compete against the competition you have outlined above? (Research required)
- What is the price point of your product/service?
- Explain why your pricing model makes sense and will allow you to be profitable, while still being competitive?
- What are the distribution channels that you plan to sell through? (Include what your company needs to do if they are to effectively engage on each channel?)
- List the details of your promotional plan? (Include how you plan to communicate your message, along with a clear definition of the exact media that you plan to use, how often, and the estimated cost?)
- Does your promotional plan clearly outline your commitment to an integrated marketing communications approach? (Include a clearly stated “one, consistent” message to your stakeholders?)
- What is your promotional budget? (Make sure to accurately reflect all promotional activities based on research).
Remember: Your marketing plan should clearly state the measurable goals you intend to accomplish with timelines attached.
Marketing Plan Tips
Executive Summary: Limit this to one page. This will be your outline of key information that will be found in the subsequent sections of your marketing plan. Be sure to include your company Mission and Vision Statements that clearly tell the story of your business objectives and purpose. Overall your marketing plan will tell anyone reading it about your plan and the steps intended to accomplish it.
Target Market: This is where you will clearly indicate the “who” your product/service is a solution for. If you don’t, do this in the eyes of the end user, your product or service is a “me, too!” solution. Avoid this with niche marketing. A method in which you wrestle less to gain significant market share. Some of the details about your targeted customer/client base include demographics such as age, location, gender, education level, marital status or ethnic background allowing you to clearly create content into your promotional program that will resonate well with your audience.
Product Description: This section is where you will tell what you are bringing to market in as much detail as possible. The what, how often, where, etc.
Competitive Strategies: This section should outline two identified competitors and include a brief analysis of each. It is not necessary to spend a ton of time in this section, but should be considered to help you understand how your competitor is marketing to their audience and the impact. Also include projections of what your competition in your SWOT analysis. Your entry into this market to sell your product/service will take away profitably from others. Know this information and plan for any pitfalls.
Pricing: Getting this right is crucial. Your pricing needs to be adopted by your target audience so the quality must match the price. Is your product/service priced the same as your competitor? Does your pricing reflect all your costs? Explain your pricing strategy and sales funnel in this section.
Channels of Distribution: This is the section of your Marketing Plan to communicate the process to get to the end user of your product/service. The usual suspects are retailers, distributors or your company website. Remember that your channel members represent you to their customers and likely potentially your competitor’s products as well.
Promotional Plan: Having a detailed strategy including the budget needed to expand is important for this section of your marketing plan. Depending on your target audience you may want to allocate a larger portion of your promotional budget online/digital marketing.
In the real estate industry for example, direct mail is a traditional form of marketing that is very relevant. The average age of a home seller is 55, making digital marketing a second best option to get the attention of potential home sellers. In this case a postcard will suffice. In an effort to diversify marketing efforts, digital marketing should still be included at a smaller percentage of the marketing budget. Digital and traditional promotional suggestions are below.
- Advertise on FB/Instagram Monday-Friday, from 12pm 5pm for three months. Cost: $10,000.
- Advertise in a top Los Angeles print/digital magazine (target region): full-page four-color for 6months. Cost: $50K.
- Advertise on digital platforms and affiliate websites – banner ads every three months and then increase of decreased after 6 months depending on results. Cost: $45k.
Total promotional budget – $105k/year
Public Relations: Do you have a strategy for free gaining press? Include press releases for all major company activities, including new employees, community involvement company updates.
Potential budget needed- $30k/year
Top Marketing/Promotion: This section of your marketing plan should clearly communicate any necessary promotional tools? (Research model/ surveys). Be sure to outline your focus with an integrated marketing communications plan.
- Website cost?
- Sales Promotions/discounts etc.?
- Events/Trade Shows?
- Personal Selling?
Potential budget needed- $30k/year
Promotional Budget: All expenses should be broken out here to include the true cost of promoting your product/service.
Marketing Plan Format To Follow: Your Marketing Plan should include the seven sections below.
- Executive Summary
- Target Market
- Product/Service Description
- Competitive Landscape
- Pricing Model
- Channels of Distribution
- Promotional Plan/Budget (Digital/Print Advertising, Sales Promotions, Public Relations etc.)
Writing: If writing is not your strong point, hire a marketing consultant, like Marketing 4 Real Results to take care of this for you.
Bendapudi, N., & Leone, R. (2001, November). How to lose your star performer without loosing customers too.
Harvard Business Review, 79(10), 104-112. Retrieved June 10, 2009, from Business Source Premier database.
Garvin, D., & Roberto, M. (2005, February). Change through persuasion. Harvard Business Review, 83 (2), 104-112. Retrieved May 22, 2009, from Business Premier database.
San Diego Ad Club’s,Retrieved August 9, 2009, from Business Source Premier database.
Kotler, Marketing Management, 13th Edition
Stebel, Paul. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry