7 Steps for a Successful Marketing Plan

People do business with people they know, like and trust – yet, 64% of companies are at risk because of not having a well-developed sales and marketing plan using this very simple concept.  Having a plan and working your plan is an important factor to healthy cash flow and company growth.

Step 1 – Understand Your Market and Competition

If you try to sell something that people don’t want, they won’t buy it.  It’s that simple. A big mistake that many small business owners make is to sell a product or service without first understanding the market and what it wants (not what it needs).  A profitable market consists of people who have wants that are being unmet, so much so that they perceive the unmet want as pain and will be eager to buy your solution (your product or service).

Step 2 – Understand Your Customer

Knowing your customer intimately is the first step to predictable sales growth. Until you know first, who your customers are, secondly, what they want, and third, what motivates them to buy, you can’t prepare an effective marketing plan.  Don’t confuse ‘wants’ with ‘needs.’  People don’t necessarily buy what they need, but they’ll most always buy what they want. This is often true

Step 3 – Market Niche Definition

This definition identifies the group of people, organizations, and issues that your business is designed to serve.   There’s nothing more destructive than to pick a niche that you can’t communicate with or that costs a lot of money to contact.  Defining a specific niche allows you to focus and maximize your marketing efforts.  By demonstrating your specialty, you’ll stand out from your competitors.

Step 4 – Develop Your Marketing Message

Your marketing message not only tells your prospect what you do but persuades them to become your customer. Communications should relay how you look, act and perform that differentiates you from everyone else.    You should develop two types of marketing messages.  Your first marketing message should be short and to the point. Some may call this your 10 second elevator pitch. It’s your response to someone who asks you, ‘So, what do you do?’  The second type is your complete marketing message that will be included in all your marketing materials and promotions.

Step 5 – Determine Your Marketing Medium(s)

Your marketing medium is the communication vehicle you used to deliver your marketing message.  It’s important to choose a marketing medium that gives you the highest return on your marketing dollar (ROMD). This means that you want to choose the medium that delivers your marketing message to the most niche prospects at the lowest possible cost.

Marketing activities may include direct contact and follow-up, networking and referral building, public speaking, writing and publicity, promotional events and advertising.

The trick is to match your message to your market using the right medium. It would do you

no good to advertise your retirement community using a fast-paced, loud radio spot on a hip-hop radio station. This is a complete mismatch of the market, message, and medium.   Success will come when there is a good match of these three elements.

 Step 6 – Set Sales and Marketing Goals

Goals are critical to your success.  If you haven’t written your goals, you’re still just wishing for success. When creating your goals use the SMART formula. Ensure that your goals are…

(1) Specific, (2) Measurable, (3) Achievable, (4) Realistic, and (5) Time specific.  Clearly state what you want and be realistic with current resources.

 Step 7 – Develop Your Marketing Budget

Your marketing budget can be developed several ways depending on whether you want to be more exact or develop just a quick, initial number. It’s good to start out with a quick-and-dirty calculation and then to support it with further details.  First, if you have been in business for over a year and tracked your marketing-related expenditures you could easily calculate your ‘cost to acquire one customer’ or  ‘cost to sell one product’ by dividing your annual sales and marketing costs by the number of units sold (or customers acquired).  The next step is to take your cost to sell one unit or acquire one customer and simply multiply it by your unit sales or customer acquisition goal. The result of this simple computation will give you a rough estimate of what you need to invest to meet your sales goals for the next year.

 Remember the 80-20 rule.  80% of your results will come from 20% of your efforts.

See our Marketing Course for more great tools and resources!

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