Have you ever found yourself struggling to make a decision regarding marketing your business? This happens to all of us. The trick is to identify your message, set goals, and a strategy to achieve them (commonly known as a marketing plan). You wouldn’t take a vacation without knowing when, where, and how. Would you?
Think of your marketing plan as a road map. Only instead of knowing your starting point and final destination, you should know what you want to say, to whom, and how your message will reach your target audience.
In my last blog, the focus was on SWOT analysis. If you have performed your SWOT analysis, chances are you have identified the four ‘P’s” of marketing: product, price, place and promotion. Each P has several components and thus each should be dealt with in detail in your marketing plan.
In addition to the 4 P's, your marketing plan should also include who will be responsible in your organization for carrying out each task. In some cases, it may be wise to hire an outside professional.
One of the biggest challenges I have discovered among small business owners is that they have big marketing ideas and small budgets. Further hindered by the lack of staff required to effectively follow through on marketing.
Speaking of budgets, a well-formulated marketing plan will include an evaluation of the costs of each item in your marketing plan. Not just out-of-pocket expenses (such as advertising dollars or printing feeds) but how much time will be needed to achieve your goal.
Keep in mind how these costs will impact your profit margins and cash flow. Recently, I worked with a retail client who had a great promotional idea. After doing a budget for the promo, the idea was scratched because the costs outweighed the likely return on investment.
Promotions are just one aspect of marketing to consider. Promotion is the actual presentation of your business and its products/services to the public. Every business should strive to present a professional, consistent image, targeted to a specific market. In other words, the image you create should provide you with a unique identity and set you apart from your competitors. This is often achieved through logo design and branding.
Advertising. This is where most new businesses fail. It is easy to get swept up into a great sales pitch. Stop! Ask yourself these important questions before you sign on the dotted line. Who is going to see the ad? How many times will they see it and over what period of time? Am I selling the right product or service to this audience? Do I have the money in my marketing budget?
If you had a marketing plan you would be able to decide ahead of time which advertising sales pitches you are interested in hearing and skip those that don’t meet your goals. Remember, there are no short cuts to marketing and advertising. You must be consistent with your message, placement, and committed to a period of time to achieve maximum results.
Lastly, the internet is playing a major role in marketing businesses of all sizes. When crafting your marketing plan, look for ways to leverage your website and social media.
While it may take sometime now to plan your marketing strategy, the time you invest should save you time and money in the long run, and help make those tough marketing decisions a lot easier.