How to Create an Effective Business Marketing Plan

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Smart small business owners know the importance of a business plan, which outlines your business’s journey to success. An essential part of this plan is your marketing strategy.

Because this strategy is buried in the larger business plan, you risk not giving marketing the attention it deserves. However, a thorough presentation of your marketing strategy can reveal opportunities for a new audience or a potential product line, pitfalls in pricing, competitive reaction, and potential reach. After all, you don’t want to miss out on the benefits you could make with an effective marketing plan.

A marketing plan describes who your customers are, where they get information from, and how you plan to reach them. Here are some important points to keep in mind when creating your plan.

1. Know your niche.

Before you can write a marketing plan, you need to find and understand your niche – the specific demographic you’re targeting, the online business and marketing strategist said. Amber Dee. For example, if your business sells 30 minute meals, then those in traditional 9 to 5 jobs are probably in your market. Study this group of individuals to understand their struggles and find out how your business can solve the problem, Dee said. Research your target market by interviewing those there.

2. Develop a clear idea of ​​why a potential customer would use your business.

Determine the basic need that your product or service will meet, said Robert J. Thomas, professor of marketing at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. Is it to help your customers get through the day more easily? Do their jobs more efficiently? To be respected and admired by friends? Your offering should be designed to solve customer problems or meet customer needs better than the competition.

3. Identify the competitors who would also want your target customers.

No matter how original your product or service may be, there is always competition for your target customer’s dollar. Small businesses rarely take the time to thoroughly study their competitors or identify competition that may be outside of their industry but just as capable of attracting the customer, Thomas said. Knowing who they are, what their main competitive advantages are and how they will react to your offer (price cuts, increased communication, etc.) will help you find strategies to tackle such losses.

4. State your brand’s position with your target customers.

Ultimately, your brand and what it symbolizes for customers will be your greatest competitive advantage, Thomas said. You should be able to write a simple declarative sentence about how you are going to meet customer needs and beat the competition. The best positioning statements are those that are determined and focus on solving a problem for the customer in a way that promotes the best value, he added.

5. Check if all else fails.

Don’t panic if your initial marketing strategy isn’t getting you the results you wanted, Dee said. Auditing your business, which you can do with the help of a third-party contractor, can help you recover.

Dee advised understanding what products or services you offer and then identifying who you are helping and how you are helping them. Then check all of your marketing platforms to make sure they reflect this message. If your perception of your brand’s message is one thing, Dee said, but your audience interprets that message as something entirely different, that’s a disconnect to correct.

Marketing approaches

Now that you know the elements of the plan, you need to determine how you are going to reach that target customer. Besides traditional print and audiovisual media, here are three tech-driven marketing channels that many business owners today are using.

Social media

Social media has become a staple of business marketing plans because each type of customer is on one type of platform, like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn. Small business owners may feel overwhelmed by the possibilities, but should focus on those that may benefit them the most.

Brett Farmiloe, Founder of the Internet Marketing Company Markers, advised companies new to social media to get to know their customers and the platforms they use.

“Find out where your customers are spending their time and take a seat on those platforms,” Farmiloe told Business News Daily. “Develop a content strategy that can be executed internally, [and then] execute your strategy by posting branded content on your selected platforms. “

E-mail

While email marketing is not as new a concept as social media marketing, it is an effective and popular choice for small business owners. There are a number of ways that businesses can implement email marketing techniques, including newsletters, promotional campaigns, and transactional emails. For example, MailChimp and Constant contact help businesses manage their emailing campaigns.

Farmiloe noted that companies can differentiate their email marketing efforts by segmenting their markets.

“Not all subscribers want to receive the same blast,” he said. “Smart email marketers take the time to segment subscribers up front and then continue to segment based on subscriber activity. Through segmentation, businesses reduce the number of unsubscribes, increase open rates and, most importantly, increase the number of actions taken from a send an email. “

Mobile

The popularity of smartphones and tablets has changed the way businesses target their customers. Since people have the devices with them almost all the time, companies are looking to implement strategies that reach customers on their gadgets.

“Mobile marketing is disruptive,” Farmiloe said. “It is with this power that a marketer must let the consumer determine how and when to receive marketing material. That’s why almost all apps have the option to turn notifications on or off. The consumer must hold the power with mobile marketing. “

Monitoring results

Creating a well-defined list of budgets, goals and actions to take, with the right staff assigned to each, can help make your marketing plan a reality. Think about how much you are willing to spend, what kind of results you expect, and what tasks are needed to achieve those results.

“If you are working to get 300 subscribers in 14 days, you have to follow the strategies you use to make sure it works,” Dee said. “Are you paying for a certain plan that costs you $ 1,000 but only earns $ 50 back? Something has to change. [return on investment] is important, and understanding what return you want is important. The return on investment doesn’t have to have a monetary value, but it is important to know the value you will receive from implementing a certain strategy. “

You can find more tips for measuring your marketing results in this BND article.

Additional reporting by Katherine Arline and Marci Martin. Some interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.


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