What is a Marketing Plan Anyway?
Building a business that grows steadily in size and profits is like building your dream house. First, you identify what kind of home you want, then you and your architect plan and create blueprints for your house, then you'd build it, move in and enjoy it.
Now imagine that you didn't have the time to plan your home but went ahead and hired a builder to get started. How would he know what to build? Without a plan, the result would be unlikely to meet your needs and you'd have wasted a lot of time and money.
Everyday I get calls from frustrated owners of small businesses. Their marketing isn't helping them generate a steady stream of new clients or bring in the revenue that they think they should be making.
My conversation with Ken, from Toronto, was typical. I asked Ken to describe his business and his business goals. I asked him to tell me about his target market and what he is doing to market his business.
He easily described his technological and design expertise, his Web services and the ads and mailings he was using to promote his business. Then I asked the question that stumps almost everyone who calls me for advice: I asked Ken if he had a marketing plan and what it was. He didn't have one.
You know what your goals are and where you want to take your business. You also know that marketing involves activities such as building a web site, mailings, advertising and phone calls to prospects. But without a plan tying these efforts together, these activities by themselves may do little to help you achieve your goals.
You need a well thought out blueprint for your marketing, just as you would for your dream home.
Here's how to start putting your marketing plan together.
1. Identify Your Marketing Goals
What specifically does your marketing need to achieve for your business to grow? You can state this in terms of the number of qualified leads generated each week, the percentage of leads converted to s. ales, total revenue, and profit.
What are your marketing goals?
2. Define Your Marketing Strategy
This is your overall approach and positioning relative to your goals and your competition. My marketing strategy is an educational one. It is based on giving people ideas and information they can use as a means of getting their attention and demonstrating the value I provide.
What is your marketing strategy?
3. Set Up Your Marketing System
Develop a plan of action. To increase sales, your marketing activities and the media you use need to reflect your marketing strategy and work together as one.
I use articles and pay-per-click ads to get people to my web site, a free marketing guide to generate contacts, forms to generate leads, and follow up with autoresponders, my ezine and phone calls. Each individual activity supports and works in harmony with the others to bring me a lot of business.
What is your marketing system?
4. Map Out Your Marketing Activities
Now flesh out the details. You've decided what your marketing activities will be; now for each marketing activity you'll need to determine who will create and implement it and when.
Who will be responsible for developing, implementing and maintaining your marketing?
5. Sharpen Your Marketing Tools
Could you sharpen your marketing tools?
Plan your marketing like you would your dream home. The time you spend developing a marketing plan - your blueprints - based on your business goals, a clear strategy, and a coordinated system will pay off.
Use your marketing plan in conjunction with a set of sharp marketing tools. You'll be building your client base and profits in no time at all.
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