9 Steps to create a Simple Marketing Plan

Posted on November 28, 2014. Filed under: Business, Business Development, Business Planning, Marketing, Marketing Plan, Small Business | Tags: , , , , , |

9 Steps to Create a Simple Marketing Plan
Having a Marketing Plan to grow your business is important, but sometimes creating the plan can feel overwhelming.  This Blog Post simplifies the creation of your Marketing Plan, by breaking it down into 9 questions.  When you answer these questions, you will create a simple marketing plan for your business:

  1. WHO is your target market?
    You have to clearly define who you are trying to reach with your products and/or services.  When you understand who your audience is, you are better able to market and promote to that target audience, so clearly define you target market including the demographics (age, gender, income, etc.) and pyschographics (beliefs, personality, hobbies, etc.)  and this will help you to effectively market and promote your product or service to your target audience.
  2. WHAT is the problem that your target market has?
    You have to clearly identify what problem or issue your target market may have.  Most, if not all, products or services offer a solution to some type of problem.  It may be a direct problem or an indirect problem, but your target market should have some type of problem that your product or service will help to alleviate.
  3. HOW does your product or service solve these problems?
    After identifying the problem your target market has, now you have to show how your product or service solves that problem.  It is important to not only identify the features of your product or service, but more importantly to identify the benefits of your product or service.  People identify better with benefits rather than features.  Saying your product is “light weight” is a feature, mentioning that your product is “easy and convenient to carry with you because it is light weight” is showing how that feature is a benefit.  Taking the time to identify how you solve the problem and clearly articulating that in your marketing material will work to your advantage.
  4. WHERE is your Target Market?
    The next step in your Marketing Plan is locating the target market that you have identified.  The key is to find the places that your target market exists in large quantities.  This is where you are going to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to your marketing activity.  The more people you can reach who are in your target market and are located in one place (an event, conference, workshop, etc.) the better results you will be able to get from your marketing activity.  You can find your target market in various places both online and offlline.
  5. HOW Do You Reach your Target Market? 
    Once you have located your target market, then you need to plan how you would like to reach them.  What activities will you do to reach your target market.  There are over 1,000 ways to reach your target audience (networking, advertising, email, video, speaking engagements, books, etc.)  so you have to decide what method works best for your industry, your company, and your audience.
  6. WHO are your ideal referral partners?
    Referrals can be one of the best ways to grow your business, so including in your marketing plan who your ideal referral partners are and working to build relationships with your ideal referral partners can really help you to grow your business.  If you are able, including some type of incentive for referrals works really well.
  7. WHAT differentiates your company from all the other companies in the marketplace? 
    It is important to not only identify who your competitors are, but to identify how your company is different from the others in the marketplace.  Once you clearly identify what makes you different than your competitors, then you are better able to articulate that in your marketing material to your clients and prospects.
  8. WHEN do you reach out to your target market and how much do you spend?
    Planning your activity is a very important step that many small business owners and entrepreneurs neglect to do.  The key to planning when you are going to reach out to your target audience and how much you are going to spend is to create a marketing calendar.  This calendar will allow you to plan out when you will be doing certain marketing activities, what that marketing activity will be, and how much you plan to spend on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis.  Taking the time to do this activity can make a huge difference in the growth of your business.
  9. WHAT headlines will you use to catch the attention of your target audience
    Thinking about the words that you are going to use to catch the attention of your target audience is very important, so taking the time to think about relevant keywords for your audience and your company will help you to craft the appropriate headlines for your marketing material.

Have you created a Marketing Plan for your business?  If so, are there other aspects of your Marketing Plan that you include?

If you need assistance with creating a Marketing Plan for your business, we offer Marketing Plan Coaching for entrepreneurs and small business owners contact us to learn more.

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Are you practicing RAM in your business?

Posted on March 7, 2014. Filed under: Business Planning, Marketing, Marketing Plan, Small Business, Uncategorized | Tags: , |

When-you-fail-to-PLANWhen it comes to marketing, most people know it is an important part of business, but not everyone takes the time to fully understand and implement their marketing activities.  Therefore, they practice what I have heard referred to as “Random Acts of Marketing” (RAM).  This is when you try this marketing activity and see if it works, then try that marketing activity, and so forth, and so on.  This is the worst type of marketing effort, in fact, it reminds me of the saying when you fail to plan, you plan to fail and that is why having a Marketing Plan and someone who will keep you accountable to execute that plan is very important for a small business owner.

The first step to stop RAM in your business is to create a Marketing Plan.  When I casually talk to various business owners at networking events, I ask them if they have a written marketing plan and most of the time people do not have a written plan.  It’s good to have an idea of what you want to do for your marketing, but a written marketing plan will help you to get clarity in several key areas of your marketing including your target market, the solution that your product or service offers your specific target market, and how you can successfully reach and convert members of your target market into paying customers.  When you have clarity on your marketing, then you have clarity in your business, so let’s look at each section in more detail:

KNOW YOUR TARGET MARKET IN DETAIL

The biggest thing I hear a lot of business owners say is,  “anyone could use my product or service”, but “anyone” is not a specific market that you can reach out to and create a strategic marketing campaign.  The smarter thing to do would be to pick a specific group or groups of individuals who are looking for a solution to a specific problem that your product or service offers a solution for.  Get to know that market inside and out.  Not just the typical demographics of age, gender, income level, etc., but know the psycho-graphics, what they tend to believe, what hobbies they tend to like, the places they like to go, etc.  This is smart marketing and helps a company to achieve better results.

KNOW WHY YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE IS THE “IDEAL” SOLUTION

Once you full understand the needs of your target market, the next step is to let your target market know why your product or service is the ideal solution.  Unless you live in a bubble, there are probably other people out there who do what you do, so you have to be very clear on what makes you different and ultimately what makes you better, which will encourage people to use your products or services instead of your competitors

KNOW WHERE YOUR TARGET MARKET “HANGS OUT”

Now that you know your target market, you know what their problems are and you know why your company is the ideal solution, now you need to let them know you are available to help!  The best way to do this is to find places where your target market hangs out in large quantities and to stand out as the ideal solution for their needs.  This can be done in both online and offline.

KNOW THE NECESSARY TERMINOLOGY TO CONVERT YOUR PROSPECTS TO CLIENTS

A lot of marketing involves psychology.  It involves getting in the mind of your target audience, understanding their needs, desires, fears, etc. and showing up as a solution through varies marketing activities and using the appropriate terminology to attract your prospects to your business, product or service.  It’s one thing to be at the right place at the right time, but it’s a whole other thing to be at the right place, at the right time, saying the right things!

The second step to stop RAM in your business is to have accountability.  When I say accountability, I mean someone either internally or externally that is responsible for making sure that your marketing plan is executed successfully.  In most medium to large companies a Vice President of Marketing, Chief Marketing Officer, or Marketing Director is the person that is held accountability for the marketing activity of the company, but for smaller businesses that don’t have various departments or the person who is a Entrepreneur or a one man show, he or she tends to add the role of Marketing to the many additional titles and roles that need to be done in the company.  The problem with this is that it can be overwhelming at times to manage all the marketing activity and the day to day management and operation of the business, and sometimes the marketing activity falls to the side.  That’s why outsourcing some marketing activity to individuals who can assist you can be useful.  This could include getting help for some of the strategic marketing planning from marketing experts, and outsourcing some of the marketing activities to individuals who can assist you including:

HIRING A MARKETING COACHING

A marketing coach can help you go through the necessary steps you need to take to write your marketing plan and help you to put together a marketing calendar to make sure you schedule out your marketing activity.  A coach can also help you to get clear on who you really  need to be targeting since most people feel they should be targeting everyone (WRONG!).

HIRING A MARKETING CONSULTANT

A marketing consultant can assist you with looking at your overall business and determining the best type of marketing strategies, systems, and support you will need to accomplish the goals that you would like to achieve.

HIRING A MARKETING ASSISTANT

A marketing assistant can help with getting those marketing activities done.  Let’s face it there are only a certain number of hours in the day and having someone available to accomplish those necessary daily, weekly or monthly tasks needed to execute your marketing can be very useful.

So in conclusion, in order to stop practicing Random Acts of Marketing (RAM) you must put together a marketing plan and execute your plan!  If you are unable to execute all aspects of your marketing it may be a good idea to get some help from a coach, consultant or assistant.

How do make sure that your company is not practicing RAM?

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Learn How to Create a SIMPLE and EFFECTIVE Marketing Plan

Posted on December 2, 2013. Filed under: Business, Business Development, Marketing, Small Business, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

marketing-strategy-planYou may have heard that all small businesses should have a marketing plan, but did you know that very few actually take the time out to create one.  The task of creating a marketing plan may seem daunting and intimidating, but you can create a simple and effective marketing plan by answering the following 8 key questions about your business:

  1. Who is your target market?

    You’ve probably heard this before, but it is VERY important to understand exactly who your target market is for your product or service.  When it comes to understanding your target market, it is not limited to just knowing the demographics like the age range, gender, geographical location, income level, etc., but also knowing the psychographics of your target market.  This includes items such as belief system, personality traits, attitude, etc.  Once you understand the demographics and psychographics of your target market, then your marketing effort becomes much easier!

  2. What is the problem that your target market has (as it relates to your product or service)?

    List specific problems that your target market has as it relates to your product or service. žImagine how these problems make your target market feel stressed out, overwhelmed, uncertain, etc. Once you fully understand how your target market feels, you will be better able to communicate effectively to your target audience!

  3. How does your product or service solve that problem?

    žBe sure to focus on how the benefits of your product or service solves their problems.  You can mention some product features, but the benefits are what people are interested in. Benefits focus on the advantages i.e. your product makes a person look younger, become healthier, etc., and features focus on the characteristics of your  product or service i.e. over 10 years on the market, fast acting, etc. Your message should be 80% about the benefits of your product or service, and only 20% about the features!  

  4. Why should they buy from you and not your competitors?

    žWhat is your unique selling proposition? These are the things that make you and/or your company different. Your customers want to know what makes you better than your competitors.The more able you are to effectively communicate why your company is the best solution, the better your marketing efforts will be.

  5. Where is your target market?

    You need to find out where your target market is located geographically and specific locations. This could include local (cities, counties, etc.), international (countries). žPlaces could include associations, festivals, groups, organizations, etc.Find out where your target market is in large quantities, so you can reach them in large quantities.

  6. How do you reach your target market?

    Are you reaching out to your target offline through networking, advertising, media, or žonline through your website, social networks,blogging, etc.You should have several ways both online and offline to reach out to your target market.

  7. When do you reach out to your target market?

    Create a marketing calendar. Plan out the next 90 days, 6 months, to a year of marketing activity.  Schedule your activity daily, monthly, quarterly, and stay organized.Plan out your marketing activity in advance in order to successful execute your marketing activities.

  8. What do you say to your target market?

    How you communicate to your target market can make the difference between success and failure.  Use messaging that your target market can understand and relate to.Use appropriate messaging that your target market can relate to.  žKnow the best keywords and buzz words to use in your content.

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