You have a product or a service that you intend to promote and sell. Having a well-defined marketing plan will help you further develop these products and services to meet the specific needs and demands of your target market.
The first question that your customers or even prospects are going to ask is: why do I need this product/service? The purpose of a stellar marketing plan is to answer this question. They need to understand how your product is different from and why your product is better than the competition.
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him or her and sells itself.”
A focused marketing plan will help you reach your targeted audience and find you customers. It can increase your bottom line, which as we all know, is the ultimate objective.
But developing a marketing plan is not that easy. In fact it requires a lot of effort, time, brain storming sessions, and research.
Big or Small – Every Business needs a Plan
It doesn’t matter whether you are the proud owner of a conglomerate, MNC, or a local shop. You need a marketing plan to help your business reach its prospects or you might find it difficult to survive the next Christmas. Attracting customers and more importantly, retaining them for repeat business is an art that takes time to learn, just like any other art or talent for that matter.
Customers need to trust you and this is where creating a brand helps. Do not think of marketing as an expense. No, this is an investment that will pay you a thousand fold over. There is a famous proverb that goes something like this:
“Early to bed and early to rise, work like hell and advertise.”
If you thought marketing was all but for sales and advertising, then you are wrong. Let’s understand this in more detail.
Document of Strategy
As a business, you may have a number of resources at your disposal, but how do you decide where do you need to take the initiate and deploy these resources? Marketing plan document to the rescue. This is your document of strategy.
A marketing plan will help you determine the key areas that you need to focus on and direct the necessary amount of resources to help achieve the goals.
- Identify your key market areas and determine their needs and demands
- Make a list of all your competitors and do a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities, threats) analysis
- Create brand awareness to help position your products and services competitively
- Set achievable short and long term goals and start measuring them periodically
- Create a list of all marketing channels available to your business and create a plan to harness it
Control Your Business
A marketing plan will help you control various aspects of your business, manage day to day tasks, and enable you to set and achieve milestones.
With the help of a suitable marketing plan, you can allocate your business resources more effectively. It will also help motivate your team to perform better thereby increasing productivity. You can then measure the performance of your staff and reward them accordingly.
Updated Marketing Plan
A sagacious marketing plan is the one that is constantly updated to reflect the current trends in the market. You remember how things were before Facebook and Twitter came along and changed the game? You need to factor in these changes and work accordingly.
The dynamics of marketing has changed greatly. Gone are the days when you could just include a few chosen marketing tactics in your arsenal and you were good to go. Now, there are primarily two parts – online marketing and offline marketing.
You need to concentrate on both and within each category, there are numerous sub-categories. In the beginning, it can all seem a little overwhelming and that is ok. Take one step at a time, one sub-category at a time and run with it.
The critical aspect is to find what works for you and find a way to do it again and again with the help of a team. Then you begin with the next one.
With a marketing plan, you are no longer risking the valuable resources that are available to you. Now you can make more informed decisions. You can be confident that the steps that you are taking and the dollars that you are spending are in line with your business goals and objectives.
An astute marketing plan will also help you redefine your objectives and goals and help you have a clearer vision. You will have a better message that you can and must communicate to your customers. You can then work on strategies and tactics to not only set goals, but achieve them.
Perhaps, one of the best outcomes of online marketing has been an incredible increase in customer engagement. Social media is powerful in that it allows customers and brands to interact with each other directly. This has enabled customer engagement in a whole new way which was previously unheard of.
You can also achieve this by having a sound social media plan that targets different platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and so on.
If you think about the places where people or prospects hang out on the Internet, there are few places like the social media and the search engine which is used for finding information on pretty much everything under the sun. Hence, having a marketing plan will help you face daily challenges and find solutions to them.
There are some businesses that are focusing on inbound marketing while others are looking to increase customer engagement using social media. No matter what your plan is, you must have a plan.
When you understand the needs and desires of your ideal client, you are immediately in a better position to satisfy those needs with your products and services. Your ideal client is someone who is in need of your product or service, but is probably unaware of the solution. Your job is to help him/her realize how your product can solve the equation or fill in the gap.
They are facing a problem and you have the solution. It is like solving a puzzle with two different blocks.
- Communicate with your ideal client and help them understand what you have to offer and more importantly, why they must buy it
- Identify opportunities in the market where your product can be of use and market it
- Create a brand and come across as an expert in the niche.
How are you unique
It is difficult to find a niche these days that is not without competition. Hence, the best course of action for you is to position yourself as an expert, and show prospects how you are unique when compared with others. Once again, marketing will come to the rescue.
There is always more than one way to do things. Find a way that works for you, a way that is simpler and easier. The idea is to do it better than anyone else and then market the fact that you are in fact doing it better than others. Offer a new perspective.
You need to have a USP which simply means a unique selling point or as some people like to call it, a unique selling proposition. The idea is to make your customers fall in love with your brand and everything that it does. Take a look at Apple. They are the undisputed champions when it comes to positioning a brand. Despite this though, they should help out more on terrorism but this is another topic. Furthermore, no matter what the competition does and how far they have come, fans just can’t have enough of Apple and its products.
As Seth Godin once said:
“Instead of working so hard to prove the skeptics wrong, it makes a lot more sense to delight the true believers. They deserve it, after all, and they’re the ones that are going to spread the word for you.”
There are a number of companies selling a number of varieties of products. You need to stand out or risk losing sight in the market.
Simple Marketing Plan
You can begin small and work your way forward from there. Even a simple marketing plan can work wonders for your business. For example, a simple marketing plan can help you with:
- Having a vision for your business and its future
- Have a mission statement for your company
- Have a list of goals – short term and long term
- Have an idea of what an ideal client is
- Understand and project how your business and product is different from the competitor
- Measure the goals that you have set
- Create a roadmap to make things easier
- Help focus on things that matter, thereby, save resources
- An action plan on what to do, why, how, where, and when
- Track your progress and find a pattern
- Remembering that this is not your hobby but a real business