If you’re thinking about developing a marketing program, you need to begin with a marketing plan. Some are short and to the point, others are hundreds of pages thick and cost thousands of pounds to produce.
The irony is that many of the expensive marketing plans end up on a shelf and rarely get implemented. The simple plans, if researched and implemented effectively, have the greatest impact.
Regardless of the scope of your marketing plan, you must keep in mind that it is a fluid document. Every business needs to begin with a well structured plan that is based in thorough research, competitive positioning and attainable outcomes. Your plan should be the basis for your activities over the coming months. However, you should always be willing to enhance or redirect your plan based on what proves successful.
Marketing Plan Basics
1. Market Research
Collect, organise, and write down data about the market that is currently buying the product(s) or service(s) you will sell. Some areas to consider:
2. Target Market
Find niche or target markets for your product and describe them.
Describe your product. How does your product relate to the market? What does your market need, what do they currently use, what do they need above and beyond current use?
Describe your competition. Develop your "unique selling proposition." What makes you stand apart from your competition? What is your competition doing about branding?
5. Mission Statement
Write a few sentences that state:
6. Market Strategies
Write down the marketing and promotion strategies that you want to use or at least consider using. Strategies to consider:
7. Pricing, Positioning and Branding
From the information you've collected, establish strategies for determining the price of your product, where your product will be positioned in the market and how you will achieve brand awareness.
Budget your cash. What strategies can you afford? What can you do in house, what do you need to outsource.
9. Marketing Goals
Establish quantifiable marketing goals. This means goals that you can turn into numbers. For instance, your goals might be to gain at least 30 new clients or to sell 10 products per week, or to increase your income by 30% this year. Your goals might include sales, profits, or customer's satisfaction.
10. Monitor Your Results
Test and analyse. Identify the strategies that are working.
By researching your markets, your competition, and determining your unique positioning, you are in a much better position to promote and sell your product or service. By establishing goals for your marketing campaign, you can better understand whether or not your efforts are generating results through ongoing review and evaluation of results.
As mentioned earlier in this article, be sure to use your plan as a living document. Successful marketers continually review the status of their campaigns against their set objectives. This ensures ongoing improvements to your marketing initiatives and helps with future planning.
Your Marketing plan has to be built around your product. But before distribution can begin, market research needs to be performed. Analysing the Market place and researching what competitors are doing will bring perspective to your Marketing strategy and vision. It will also provide key indicators on pricing and potential. Something to consider is your product's life cycle which is important in determining when the market will reject your product.
Once a product is launched into the market, a stable growth in sales is common at first. This will eventually stabilise as the product gets older, and as more competitors enter the market it eventually will start declining to the point of elimination. It is difficult to tell where a specific product is within the lifecycle or how long each phase will last. This is dependent on many factors within the market and how they are dealt with. Many companies have adopted strategies to combat a shortened product life by releasing improved versions.
Price. When entering the Market for the first time, pricing is something that can either 'make you or break you'. Small businesses tend to think that they need to offer really cheap prices to stand a chance of survival. That's not the case. It all depends on what you do, what you can do and what you are willing to do. We all know about demand and supply, an abundant supply forces prices to drop because demand decreases. We see it in the UK today, many companies offer the same service in the same area but still seem to make it. How? Its called Value Added Services. Taking a standard product that is available on the Market and adding something that is unique and beneficial to consumers ensures that your product has a chance. It also allows you more flexibility on Pricing.
Many small businesses associate position with location only. It is much more than where your business is physically situated or where your distribution areas encompass. It is about creating a unique identity for your business, a Brand which will act as a platform from which to launch your products. In other words, position applies to your place in the Market. Does you company name reflect what you are about, will consumers be able to instantly recognise you?
Promotion / Distribution
Who are your customers. If you don't know who they are and what they want, you will not be able to promote effectively. Target, target, target. Most of your information will come from Market Research and analyses. Things like Average age, yearly spend, customer groups, buying habits are all important facts that help make promotion effective and easy. Once you identify your perfect customer, you need to figure out the best way to reach them. Remember...Getting your Marketing message heard! Choosing a communication channel is of utmost importance. The wrong one being chosen will result in the wrong audience being reached.
Your Marketing plan can act as your mission statement, what you intend to do in order to reach your objective or Vision.
Branding a small business is a must if you want to succeed in a competitive world. The importance of branding a business disregarding its size is based on not only real benefits, products and services that your business possesses, but also an image concept that all businesses should keep in mind.
From colour business cards to global business identity, depending on how effectively you brand your business, the more or the less opportunities of success will knock at your door. The reason why large companies brand their businesses is because they know this is the best way to differentiate their products and services from their competitors while creating a corporate image.
Many small business owners believe it is not necessary to development a corporate image, particularly those whose business integrate just a few individuals as staff, or even when they own a one-man business, using the internet for selling or promoting their professional services. However, even a small business should utilise the same principles as the large enterprises to brand their business.
Furthermore, if your business has business cards, stationary and other branded elements along with a matching website, you will not only create a corporate image, but also loyal relationships with your customers and prospective customers, who will find more reliability with a small business with these characteristics, than others without a professional look and feel.
Because you only have the opportunity to impress new customers once, you should make sure that this impression is a positive and lasting introduction and handshake, only possible if you brand your business conveniently and professionally. There is no need to spend thousand of dollar to achieve it, but do not go to the other extreme using uneven elements.
Small businesses should be aware of the elements that will make their brand unique and recognisable, including consistency between online and printed elements, such as your logo, signage, business cards and even a slogan that helps people understand at a glance your business's mission statement.
Effective branding must achieve these goals; be consistent and never differing, carrying the same logo, colours, slogans and statements through to every element of your business, all of them always visible and unique, hence the need to avoid elements that anyone can find anywhere such as free or cheap clipart.
Creating your brand, whatever your budget you require a business plan to have a solid appreciation on whom your customers will be and what can you do to serve them. This is not only a matter of elegant stationary or catchy business cards; it is the most important deployment of a small business for an eventual growth in future terms.