If you want your business to gather pace rather than dust, it's vital that any marketing plan you write is effective and easily implemented. Sounds like a no brainer, but the majority of plans - all written with the best intentions of course - end up wallowing in the bottom of filing cabinets or being used a year later as scrap paper.
A practical marketing plan can save your company from going backwards, and in the scenarios we like to see, propel it into a whole new realm.
Here's some tips regarding the best way to go about preparing a plan that you'll want to see through!
Jettison the jargon
That means... nuke the big words and don't use three sentences to say what you could in one.
Position yourself up front
In my article 'Making A Statement!' I discuss positioning. A positioning statement is where you state who you are and what you offer. It differentiates you from your competition and gives direction to your marketing and business efforts. State it at the beginning of your plan and use it as your anchor.
Examples of positioning statements include:
- There's no other store like David Jones
- Austfinance - creating a new finance culture
- BizeBox - backing up your business
- My Pamper Party - the day spa wherever you are
Define your business and marketing objectives
To get the most out of your plan, it's crucial that you clearly define your goals. Write down what you're trying to achieve (short and long-term) as a business. Be as specific as you can. That's because your strategy and budget will be a whole lot different if, say, you're trying to double your profit in six months compared to growing sales 15% over a year.
Some things to think about:
- Customer retention: What percentage of your business comes from your current customer base?
- New business development: How many new customers - and what type - do you need to attract?
- Repeat business and cross selling: Is this happening and where can this be improved?
- Strategic relationships: What beneficial partnerships/cooperative business relationships would be profitable to pursue?
- New markets/locations: Are there any completely new areas you want to enter?
Look outside your bubble
Once you've decided on your objectives, step outside your business for a moment and put your competitors under the microscope. What are they doing well, how do they market themselves, what gaps are they leaving? Then take a look at the wider market, factor in current economic and community sentiment and work back to see how it relates to your business.
Finally, zero in on your target audience(s). It's not enough to say a target audience is women aged 25-35. You need to drill right down, e.g.: single women, 25-35, white collar, earning $60k+, working 40+ hours. Build a strong profile and identify their hot buttons, then you'll be clear about what to say to turn them on!
Get to work
Now the fun begins! You and/or your marketing consultant are ready to develop a no-nonsense strategy to deliver real results to your bottom line.
This is where strategy and creative tactics meet budgets and implementation deadlines.
In writing the strategy you'll need to match the marketing tactics to your objectives and the target market. Decide what will give you the best result and the most value for your money in the available time. Options to consider include:
- online marketing;
- media relations;
- promotional offers;
- communications material;
- print, radio or TV advertising;
- networking and speaking engagements;
- cooperative marketing;
- giveaways and competitions;
- CRM (customer relationship management);
- outdoor signage (billboards/shop window/vehicles);
- displays, trade shows and sales kits; and
- websites, emarketing and newsletters.
But is it working?
An important component of any marketing plan - yet often the one missing - is a decision about how to track each new lead coming in to the business and where it came from.
By implementing a rigorous tracking and reporting system you'll be able to monitor the effectiveness of your marketing activities and identify where your marketing budget and resources should be allocated on an ongoing basis.
So, make your plan crisp, think creatively, insist on deadlines, check off each activity as you implement it and keep moving forward. Don't let it sit in a dark corner of your bookcase gathering cobwebs like a 1408 page version of Tolstoy's War and Peace... get help if you need it, but make it great and make it happen!
Don't let your marketing plan end up in a museum!