4 steps to Creating an Effective Marketing Plan that gets results!
To create a marketing plan is to first determine the end result. In other words, know what reason you are going to put in the sweat equity to create the plan. Not all plans result in what is desired, however the best approach is to look at what has not worked and formulate a plan to mitigate the risks, while establishing the strategy to produce results.
According to Robert Thomas, professor of marketing at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. “The single most important thing for a small business to include in its marketing plan is a very clear understanding of its customers and its competitors,” – See more here
Four Keys to develop the bulk of the plan
1. Identify your target audience. The number of potential customers in most markets is unlimited, however to be better and faster at succeeding, to study the market and understand specific characteristics of its best target customers is essential for the small business. Target customers need to be described in minute details. This will set the foundation for whet the business can expect in sales revenues and financials, increasing the accuracy of business forecasts.
2. Develop a very clear and focused insight into why a potential customer would want to do business with you. Primarily you need to determine what your product or service will mean to the customer in terms of value, what need will your product or service fill or meet for the customer? Does it help them be more efficient? Be admired by friends and colleagues? It may seem obvious (since we are all consumers), however what you offer has to meet the needs of the customer better than what ever the competition offers.
3. Identify current and potential competitors that may also want to target your customers. Regardless of your business, there is always the potential for current and new competitors to enter the market. The biggest challenge to competition is the lack of small businesses taking the time to study the competition in depth. However you must understand the core competitive advantages of your competitors to better predict their reaction to your offer of price cuts, special introductions and better communication.
4. Write down you brand positioning statement for your target customers. The best statements are the ones that reflect a single-minded focus on the needs of the target customer. Your brand is what sets you apart from the competition to the customer and it is your strongest competitive advantage. Your brand positioning statement should be something that you can write down in a simple declarative sentence of how you will meet the needs of the customer while beating the competition.
What can a Marketing Plan do for Your Small Business?
“A marketing plan includes everything from understanding your target market and your competitive position in that market, to how you intend to reach that market (your tactics) and differentiate yourself from your competition in order to make a sale” –SBA
There is a hidden element to every form of marketing that can either enhance your message, that will ultimately draw more customers, or it can deter from all that you have created. It has destroyed reputations to the point of no return, and that is word of mouth advertising. People like to share positive experiences, defend their loyalty to one brand over another and become advocates for your brand. On the other hand a bad experience will reach every social media outlet available, and it takes longer for it to be forgotten. YOUR current customers are your greatest ally and it is much more cost effective to maintain a loyal customer than to ‘win’ a new one. In our current “politically correct, make me feel good by tickling my ears world,” there are yet people that are looking for something real, and integrity is very much appreciated. Just say what you mean, and more than that Mean what you say.
Therefore, a carefully crafted marketing plan must above all else, not exceed the ability of the company to perform and deliver on its promise of what separates it from the competition and how much better your product meets the needs of the customer.
All comments are welcome! What has been your best marketing strategies and how has it benefited your brand positioning?