Building any business is no simple feat. When you begin to play in the competitive market, there is no doubt that you have to be ready for contingency after contingency. The principle that you have to learn is fail-fast. Falling down is normal, everybody stumbles at one time or another, but it’s the ones that get back on their feet quickly that have a say in the marketplace.
Marketing isn’t much different. More often than not, it is an iterative process of trying and trying again to get your ducks in a row. Marketing is a key component to the design of any business. If you have a good or service to sell, you also need a way to let people know about it. The more people you tell the more you will potentially sell—especially when you know who to talk to. Putting all of the pieces together can be a daunting challenge in marketing. If you have experienced that pain, this 4 step marketing plan reminder will help you organize yourself for success.
What’s the Status?
Begin to create or adjust your marketing plan by asking the question “what’s the status”. In this stage, you want to break down the aspects of your business into its most fundamental parts. Look at this step as the research and observation period. Remember the four “P’s”? Look at where your business fits in with all of them: product, price, place, and promotion. What do you do currently to set you apart from the competition? Here are a couple of tools that I like to use when I conduct this situational analysis:
What’s the Target?
Answering this question is crucial, and yet for many, it is the most difficult question to truly answer. The amount of money and market research involved to work out a realistic target market is very time consuming and expensive. To do this effectively, you need to look at your current customers. Pull your customer list and analyze who it is exactly that most frequently buys your product or service. If you are just starting out, make some educated guesses as to who your target customer is, but remember that the more narrow the audience you can define, the better you will be able to communicate with those people through your marketing efforts.
I like to create a customer profile when going through this exercise. A profile is paragraph or two long, detailed description that characterizes your most frequent and valued customer. You can use demographic and psychographic information to describe who you customer is. You may look at geographical location, behaviors, and interests. The idea is to build as clear of a picture as you can. You will look at your target customer frequently to plan the strategy on how to communicate and engage with your preferred customer.
What’s the Strategy?
The strategy is the meat and bones of your marketing plan. This is where you decide which channels you will use to reach your customers. You’ll look at what forms of media are most effective for your target audience and then craft the theme and cadence for delivering your marketing messages to the potential customer.
Your goal when developing a marketing strategy is to use your materials to create value for your customers—both current and potential. When deciding which channels of marketing you will use to reach your target, you want to plan out different approaches for all areas of the customer journey. For example, direct marketing and advertising may be good channels for reaching prospective customers. Direct mail, email, and social media efforts can work well when connected to a specific marketing list.
Loyalty programs and permission-based email might be more fitting to warm leads. Planning the perfect marketing mix is your goal. As you keep your target customer in mind you will be better able to create a plan and track the outcomes of your plan in relation to your target.
What’s the Budget?
Once you know where your company fits, who you will target, and how you will target them, you need to plan out your budget. You need to set aside a portion of projected sales for marketing. Marketing expense may seem elusive, at times, but if done correctly and strategically will provide a significant ROI for your business.
As you develop a marketing plan for your business remember that the plan is not just something that you write once and then lock away in a closet somewhere. The competitive marketplace is continuously evolving and changing which means that you should be revising your marketing plan periodically to adjust to the changing environment. As you build your business, you will get more new customers who will help you to gain a clearer picture of your target customer. You can then use that information to create a specific strategy to create value for your target customer along the whole customer journey.
Blog post by Michael Peterson, content marketer at American Name Services