It’s an unfortunate fact that very few small businesses actually have a marketing plan. Instead they rely on their gut instincts when making decisions about marketing strategies and many times just do what everyone else seems to be doing. Then, at the end of the year, they wonder what they got for the money they spent!
As many personal effectiveness experts will tell you, one of the things that differentiates most successful people is that they take the time to actually write down their goals and objectives. The same thing applies to business owners and their marketing effectiveness. The simple act of writing down what you would like to achieve gives you a much better chance of actually achieving it. And if you can actually keep score of your progress, you can decide to change strategies so you aren’t wasting time and money on things that aren’t actually working.
Certainly there are a lot ‘new’ marketing strategies out there but the belief that there are ‘secrets’ to successful marketing is just not true. Once you understand your business and your target customer then your marketing efforts really come down to four simple things.
- Generating a plan
- Executing the plan
- Measuring progress
- Adapting the plan to what’s working best
So what goes into a marketing plan? Well, in my view, it’s whatever helps you achieve your business goals. Ideally, it’s something that helps you focus your business goals and is used regularly just to keep on track. It’s not a long, detailed thesis and can sometimes be as little as a few pages.
At SPM Business Solutions we offer a 6-week ‘Marketing Effectiveness Program’ to help established business owners put together a practical marketing plan that helps them focus on new customer growth. Our clients tell us that working with a business coach helps them better understand their own business and how to market it’s unique advantages in a way that highlights the true benefits their customers actually receive (as opposed to their product feature set).
We use 6-steps to generating a successful marketing plan.
- Document your business goals and the purpose of your marketing campaign.
- Clearly identify the benefits received by customers who use your product/service.
- Research the characteristics and behaviors of your targeted market segment.
- Determine your competitive situation, your market niche, and unique selling proposition (USP).
- Design specific promotional strategies to generate leads from your targeted market segment.
- Prepare a written marketing plan with a budget and calendar.
With a practical marketing plan you can then sit down every week and evaluate how successful your chosen strategies really are at helping you achieve your business goals. If they’re not working then you need to understand why and make changes. If they are working then perhaps you want to do more! Either way you are now working from a plan and that (as we now know) can be one major factor in our marketing success.
– Steve (www.SPMsolutions.NET)