The trouble with simply "doing" without a plan in place, is that you can get stuck moving forward without a plan - and subsequently, without direction. And that's just not advisable under ANY circumstance!
The power of a plan is crucial. And I'm not just talking about that business plan that you wrote a while back - I'm talking about your day-to-day, month-to-month strategic plan. The one that outlines a goal (or set of goals) and puts a well-thought-out set of strategies in place to achieve that goal(s).
Think of a plan as a rudder on a boat. Without a rudder, well - you're just going to go wherever the wind takes you. Maybe it's into a lush port full of riches, but more often than not, it's to the rocky shores. And let's face it - wouldn't you rather steer towards the port of riches?
So it's with that in mind that I outline 7 steps to marketing plan success:
Step 1: Understand your market and your competition
I know this seems like a real no-brainer. But you'd be amazed at how many people simply gloss over this crucial step. Remember, this step is a tool for you to gain a share of the marketplace. Knowing your competition and what they're doing, can allow you to fill in the gaps of what they're NOT doing. Also, knowing your market will set you up to be able to sell them what it is they want to buy.
Step 2: Understand your ideal client
Now that you understand the market that you want to sell into, what specific clients are you looking for? Simply put, you want to know who your ideal clients are, what they want, and what motivates them to buy. Often, this is a demographic decision based on estimated income, age groups, where they live, etc. The good news is, to get this done it only involves a little research.
Step 3: Pick a niche
This is probably one of the most important steps you can do. And the more focused you make your niche, the better. When you specialize in a niche, you become a lot more attractive to the members of that niche. Why? Because you're servicing them directly - looking after their needs. When you're a generalist, you end up servicing no one in particular. So choose a niche for your business so you can own that share of the market.
Step 4: Develop and use a lead generation marketing message
This one is simple and a lot of people already have it done. What I'm really talking about here is the simple "elevator pitch" or initial teaser that you use when meeting people for the first time when they ask you "so what do you do?". And it's also the message you use in all your marketing. It needs to talk to a specific client problem, and indicate how you can solve it.
Step 5: Determine your marketing medium/media
Back in Step 2 I said it was important to understand your ideal customer. Well this is one of the main reasons why. When you understand your customer, you also know where they look for information. Then when you know that, you can target those media for your marketing efforts.
Step 6: Set sales and marketing goals
Let's face it, you had to know this one was coming. And I can't stress the importance of this enough. As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, goals will provide you with direction in your business. Goals need to be clear and unambiguous. They need to have a timeline associated with them, and they need to be measurable. Finally, a goal needs to be attainable.
Step 7: Develop a marketing budget
The fact of the matter is this: you need a budget. It's rare that an entrepreneur has an unlimited budget to work with, so that being the case, make sure you have a budget worked out for all your marketing efforts.
It really can be this simple. For the most part it should generally take a day to make all this happen. You can just put pen to paper and give it a try. Either way, the important thing is to create a plan for yourself that will get you ready.