Create a Powerful Marketing Plan For Your Small Business

The marketing planning process need not be complex – it is simply a logical approach to looking at your business and its environment, deciding on your marketing objectives are and then deciding the marketing programs that need to be created to ensure that those objectives are met.

Marketing has been given many different definitions. It is sometimes confused with promotion – or even sales. It is neither. Marketing is concerned with the management of the ‘marketing mix,’ in other words the following: (sometimes referred to as the 4 Ps)

  • Price – how much you are selling the product or service for
  • Product (or service) – what you are designing, developing, manufacturing, providing and selling
  • Place (or channel strategy) – which channels you are using to sell your product or services (e.g. are you selling direct to customers over the Internet or are you selling through a retailer or other third party)
  • Promotion – what methods are you using to communicate what it is that you do to your market. This includes packaging, sales, brochures, exhibitions, advertising, direct mail, Internet marketing etc

Marketing planning is a creative process based on the solid analysis of your business and its environment. It also requires you to think about the future. We don’t know what is going to happen in the ‘invisible’ future – but there are things in the ‘visible’ future that we can take account of.

The Marketing Audit

Before developing a marketing plan, the first step is the marketing audit. In its simplest terms this means reviewing the marketing that you have done up until now to determine how effective it has been – preferably in quantitative terms. This information will give you practical guidance as to where to place your valuable resources in the future.

The SWOT Analysis

The first step in the process is to do a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats or SWOT analysis. The SWOT analysis, is an easy to remember and simple process. There are two main aspects of the SWOT – the inward looking, i.e. what are the strengths and weaknesses of your business, and the outward looking, i.e. what are the opportunities and threats coming from outside your business.

Strengths might include company reputation, quality of employees, marketing skills, on-line presence, social media footprint. Threats might include new legislation or regulations, a new competitor, cost of fuel or raw materials

The analysis is best done by a group of people.The ‘brainstorming’ technique is useful. Every idea is written down – preferably where everyone in the group can see it, WITHOUT editing. No matter how seemingly stupid the idea, write it down. You can always go back and edit after the brainstorming session is over. Brainstorming techniques can be applied to all of the creative and analytical phases of the marketing planning process.

The PEST Analysis

Another useful technique when preparing marketing plans is the ‘PEST’ analysis. PEST is an acronym for:

  • Political and Legal
  • Economic and demographic
  • Social and cultural
  • Technology

And how each of these factors may affect your business. It is another way to help you think about the environment in which your business operates. It may be helpful for you to use this analysis when working on the opportunities and threats part of the SWOT analysis. For example, a future legal change may result in you having to pay greater costs in order to meet new regulations. Demographic changes may result in a population shift to your part of the country. This may result in more customers and hence, potentially more business.

Setting marketing objectives

Before embarking on a journey to is usually a good idea to have some idea of where you are heading. The same is true for marketing planning. Before setting marketing objectives you need to know the overall objectives for your business. This could be a certain level of profitability or volume of sales. To meet this business objective will involve a number of different activities within you business including: production, customer service, finance, and marketing.

Marketing objectives are what you are aiming to achieve through the marketing plan in order to meet the overall business objectives. Marketing objectives fall into four categories as follows:

  • Existing products or services in existing markets (penetration)
  • New products or services in existing markets (product development)
  • Existing products or services in new markets (market extension)
  • New products and services in new markets (diversification)

Marketing objectives should always be quantifiable, for example, sell a certain amount of product to existing customers (market penetration) or achieve a certain market share in a new market (market extension).

The Product or Service Lifecycle

All products have, what is called in ‘marketing speak’, a product or service lifecycle. The lifecycle describes the natural process by which a new product is introduced, is gradually accepted, sells well for a while and is then gradually superseded before, potentially, being phased out.

The product life cycle is a useful concept to consider when reviewing your product or service set (product/service portfolio). It is important to consider where a product is on the lifecycle in order to set marketing objectives and appropriate marketing programs. For example, if a product is in the introduction phase it may be appropriate to spend more on promotion than for a product in decline.

Set marketing strategies

Marketing objectives are concerned with what you would like to achieve, marketing strategies are how you are going to try and achieve these objectives.

Having set the strategies, individual marketing tactics will be created in the form of specific marketing programs. The difference between the marketing strategy and marketing tactics can be illustrated as follows. A valid marketing strategy would be to create an exhibition program in a new market. The tactic associated with this strategy would be a specific exhibition, the dates, logistics, size of trade show booth, and promotional events surrounding the exhibition.

The following are some of your marketing strategy options:

Price

When you first think about pricing your first inclination may be to apply a simple mechanism which adds a percentage to the cost of producing the product or providing the service, this is known as cost-plus pricing. This may be the best way of pricing your product, but you must also think about premium pricing. An expensive product may create an idea of prestige or luxury, irrespective of how much it cost to create the product. Branded perfumes and designer clothing labels fall into this category.

Other factors you will likely taken into account are the cost of competitor products and services together with the distribution costs that may need to be built into your pricing (for example, the amount you will need to pay your distributor).

Product

An area of enormous importance to be considered when you look at your products is the concept of the product and service portfolio. A portfolio implies that you are marketing more than one product or service. In actual fact, even if you only have one product, you will likely have at least one service offering connected to that product. In developing the tactical aspect of your marketing plan your need to analyze each product in turn.

Portfolio management involves managing the portfolio such that there is a balance between cash generated and cash required. It is important to visualize where products are likely to be in the future and how you can achieve those positions. For example, a new, but highly promising product has a low market share, but a high market growth rate.

Place

The channel strategy is your plan as to how you are going to get you product or service to market. It’s likely that you have already made some plans here. A business needs to find new and innovative ways in which you can gain the widest market coverage at the lowest cost. Options may include:

  • Setting up a distributor network
  • Finding ‘business partners’
  • Selling directly over the Internet
  • Creating retail outlets
  • Developing export markets
  • Find alliance partners
  • User new channels to market
  • Change delivery options

Promotion

Promotion is a highly creative process. You never really know which promotional method is going to be the most effective until you try it. The answer is to try different promotional methods and to measure and test each one’s effectiveness.

  • Marketers have the many methods at their disposal, including:
  • Internet marketing (both ‘organic’ Web site search engine positioning and PPC (Pay-per-click) Web advertising)
  • Social media marketing (e.g using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc)
  • E-mail marketing
  • Advertising (also known as ‘above the line expenditure.’)
  • Merchandizing
  • Sales – personal selling
  • Trade shows and exhibitions
  • Media relations (public relations – PR)
  • Direct mail
  • Network marketing
  • Branding

Conclusion

A marketing plan is not an end in itself, rather, it represents a process of examining and rethinking your business from a marketing perspective. By thinking through the issues you should get a greater appreciation of all the different marketing options as well as a few new ideas about things to try in your business.

7 Essential Things Your Marketing Plan Needs

Last week we talked about taking responsibility for ourselves and our business. So, with that said to also ensure we are taking responsibility and on the road to great success I want to make sure you have all the tools you need to do that. Today we will discuss the basics you need in any marketing plan.

Every marketing plan you have should include these 7 things:

Your plan should have and know it’s segmentation. Segmentation is perhaps the most important because segmentation is your audience, who you are going to market to? Don’t know your segmentation, then start doing research as quick as possible. Again, you need to know your audience so you know who to market to and how to market to them successfully.

A marketing plan needs to have a back up plan. From a competitive standpoint having a back up plan is ideal. Having a back up plan should also include you doing a little research on your competition. Your back up plan should include responses or comebacks to competitor campaigns as well as alternative marketing you can carry out when needed.

A marketing plan needs to feature your points of value. Why should the consumer buy from you instead of the competition. Your points of value will be what sets you apart from the competition. Your points of value will be the benefits of buying products from you and/or using your services. So, be sure to have strong points of value and let your audience know what they are?

Your plan needs to have a strong message and positioning. Be clear with your message. The worst thing you can have is confused potential clients and clients, so BE CLEAR. Use your points of value to create and send a strong message to your potential clients and position yourself on top.

A marketing plan needs to have goals with set deadlines. When developing your successful plan be sure to set different benchmark goals to reach. Also, when setting goals set deadlines for reaching the different goals. We all know having personal and business goals are important and for those same reasons having marketing goals is important too. Goals with deadlines help you to stay focused.

An effective plan needs a plan of implementation. So, you’ve developed the perfect marketing plan,so? That marketing plan can’t be successful if you don’t implement it. So, on top of developing your marketing plan you need to also have a plan for implementing your marketing plan and getting your message out to your audience in a successful way.

A marketing plan needs a budget. You want to develop and implement a marketing plan you can afford. So, set a budget and keep all your marketing within that budget. Need ways to market on a budget check out my blog called 6 Ways To Market On A Budget for tips as well as I did a whole series on free marketing outlets you can use to market.

Having a marketing plan with these elements will put you on the road to success. So, be sure your plan includes these 7 essentials things today, your marketing and business success depends on it.

MLM Marketing Plan

No doubt if you are trying to progress on your journey to MLM success and you have been doing some training and some research then you will have discovered the importance of having a good MLM marketing plan in place.

A good MLM marketing plan is vital for many reasons. Four of the most important ones are detailed below:

• It provides you with structure and guidance.
• It helps to support effective time management.
• It actively supports you in achieving your goals.
• It gives you the ability to be able to evaluate your progress.

So you understand the importance of having a good MLM marketing plan in place but how do you go about creating one? Well you could search for basic templates that you could use to start you off, however in my experience these are never as helpful as I hope they will be. That’s because everyone has a different way of working and generally ‘one size fits all’ plans are difficult to find. Instead I recommend that you pull your own plan together, sticking some simple principles and guidelines:

Step 1

Think carefully about the marketing methods that you are going to select to focus on. If you are new to MLM marketing, I suggest that you select one method at a time with the aim of perfecting it before introducing a second method.

Step 2

Split each marketing method out in to its own MLM marketing plan. Each plan should focus purely upon the actions required for that method, where possible detailing the time involved for each action.

Step 3

Provide as much structure as possible within each marketing plan. Break all actions down in to bite size chunks. If you have a monthly action, consider what you need to do on a daily or weekly basis in order for that monthly action to be effective. For big tasks, break them down so you can see step by step, all of the actions required for you to complete the task.

Step 4

Don’t be afraid to go back to your plan and update or re-schedule as often as necessary. Especially in the early days it’s easy to underestimate the time required for certain actions or miss some important actions all together. Make all of your MLM marketing plans work in progress so that you can constantly tweak them until they are as effective as they can be.

Step 5

Pull together one overall plan that incorporates all of your MLM marketing plans. This plan is going to be the key to your time management as well as a guide to keep you on track with all of your individual plans and actions. Without this it is easy to become so consumed with one plan and one set of actions that other plans and required actions start to suffer. Allocate specific amounts of time to each plan and try your best to stick to it.

Step 6

Have scope within your plans to be able to update your progress against your actions. This is vital to being able to plan future actions and required time allocations as well as giving you the opportunity to be able to regularly track your progress against your plan.

Step 7

Before you put any plans in place you should have spent some time setting your goals. These goals should be very clear and burned in to your mind. Make sure these goals are clearly visible on your MLM marketing plans. Even if only at a subconscious level, this will help you to focus on each action with a clear understanding of how it is taking you one step closer to your goals.

As well as these steps there are some general considerations you should have when developing your marketing plans:

• Be realistic. Don’t schedule 10 hour days if you know that there is no chance of you ever working more than 5 hours. This will be completely counter-productive as you will not be able to stick to the timescales allocated and will constantly be chasing your tail and playing catch up. That’s not the most productive way to work!

• Don’t waste too much time on the cosmetics. It’s not how this plan looks that is important. After all, it’s only for your own use. As long as you are comfortable that it provides you with everything that you need then that’s enough – even if it’s not particularly pleasing on the eye.

• Organisation is key. Although it may seem like a waste of time to be planning rather than completing actions, you will complete your actions far more effectively and in a much more timely manner if you have spent some time planning your approach.

Once you have your MLM marketing plans and overall time management plan in place then do your best to stick to it. Try not to procrastinate. I know how easy it is to put the jobs that you don’t really enjoy off until tomorrow and focus on the more enjoyable ones now. To make sure you don’t do this try always to complete your least favourite tasks first. You will be pleased to have them out of the way and you can then enjoy your remaining actions without the constant nag of that task that you’re not looking forward to.

Another good approach to use whenever you need a little boost or head start is to allocate your own action hours or even go the whole hog and have an action day. It’s amazing how much you can get down in an hour if you really put your mind to it. Challenge yourself to see how many actions you can tick off your list in an hour, it can really give you a head start along with a huge sense of satisfaction when you see you list being quickly ticked off! And if you achieve than in an hour – imagine what you could achieve in a day!

So do yourself a favour and whatever you do, do not put this off until tomorrow! Start now, straight away, and pull yourself together a plan that is really going to drive the right actions required to ensure you see the best results possible!

And as always, if I can be of any help along your way, you know where I am. I’ll be happy to help!

Signing off for now! Speak soon..

Laura x

A Marketing Plan Template That Works For Any Business

This article will give you the six parts of a basic marketing plan template that will work for any business. Those parts, or sections of the template, are: Situation Analysis, Target Audience, Goals, Strategies, Tactics, and Budget.

The first section of the marketing plan is the SITUATION ANALYSIS.

In this section you look at your challenges, your competition, and how you are unique in the marketplace. The situation analysis lays the foundation for your goals, strategies and tactics. This is accomplished through a thorough analysis of your self and your specific situation or market. In this section you create your Unique Selling Proposition (U.S.P.).

The second section of the plan defines your TARGET AUDIENCE. Here is where you uncover who has a NEED for your product or service. This involves profiling you existing customers and finding common attributes. The purpose of the exercise is to ultimately create an “ideal customer profile”

In the Target Audience section of the document you decide which customers you are going to approach with your marketing efforts.

The third section of the marketing plan is GOALS.

This is where you lay out exactly what you want to accomplish with your marketing efforts. Without goals you will never have a benchmark to compare to. If your marketing plan is a one year plan, how will you know if you were successful or not at the end of the year of marketing activities?

Another critical element of the Goals section is to schedule evaluation points throughout the duration of your plan. Having these points predetermined will allow you to continually assess the effectiveness of your efforts.

The fourth section of the plan is where you develop your STRATEGIES.

This is where you choose which tools (media) you will use to reach your target audience. With many marketing tools available for businesses, choosing the right ones can make a big difference in your bottom line.

Using the information gathered in the first three sections of the marketing plan template will make the step of deciding which media tools to use easier.

The fifth section of the marketing plan is TACTICS.

Here you lay out the logistics of how you are going to use your marketing tools. When will your marketing tools be implemented? What happens when? In this section you will create a Media Rationale and a Marketing Calendar.

The media rationale justifies the use of a particular tool by outlining specific reasons why that tool is a good choice and the specific way it will be implemented within your plan.

The marketing calendar is simply a week-by-week calendar of your marketing activities.

The sixth section of the marketing plan is BUDGET.

In this part of your plan you look at whether or not you can afford certain marketing efforts and devise a way to keep track and monitor the responses to your marketing activities. You can also determine what kind of funds it will take to accomplish certain marketing priorities.

If you use these six sections when creating your marketing plan template; Situation Analysis, Target Audience, Goals, Strategies, Tactics, and Budget, you will have everything included to launch your new marketing initiatives to the marketplace.