There is no need to spend big bucks on a marketing plan. Following these four simple and logical steps will ensure you have a solid business marketing plan and the steps in place to implement it.
Starting and running your own business can be exciting but also overwhelming. In addition to providing the product or service you know well, you must also promote it. If your expertise happens to be in marketing, this presents no great challenge. If however, like the vast majority of self-employed business owners, you are not naturally wired for marketing, you may want some direction.
The key concept to successful marketing of any business is to be proactive rather than reactive. If you procrastinate about marketing you will find yourself constantly operating in reactive mode. This means that you respond to circumstance rather than planning ahead. It is something like casting your net and hoping it is a good day for fishing. If you create a framework for broadcasting your message and then overlay that onto a calendar, you can be proactive, taking a layered approach to reach your target audiences and building momentum.
The steps below will lead you through the process of determining what it is you need to tell your target audience, how to tell them, and, when you will execute each piece of the plan for ultimate success.
STEP ONE: Define a Measure of Success
Your marketing plan is a means to and end–that end being a goal that you are working toward. You can have more than one goal, but for the purpose of this exercise, we will be fleshing out just one goal. It is up to you how many you decide to tackle, but be advised that any more than three is probably going to be counterproductive.
Your goal should be SPECIFIC and MEASURABLE. You can tack some lofty ideals on as well as in the example below, but make the main focus something you can measure progress toward:
Company XYZ will increase WHAT (i.e. sales, revenue, traffic, inquiries, repeat customers) in WHEN by HOW MUCH (i.e. percentage or amount) while growing as a company and individuals in our skills and commitment to success.
Imagine that Company XYZ is actually a home building company. Their version of the goal above might be:
Company XYZ will increase THE NUMBER OF HOMES SOLD in the NEXT SIX MONTHS by 10% while growing as a company and individuals in our skills and commitment to success.
Create a goal for your business based on that example.
STEP TWO: Objectively Speaking
Once you have defined what a measure of your success will be you will need to plan how you will navigate from where you are today to where you want to wind up. Most of us will readily take ownership of ideas that will breed success, but we are not so efficient in turning them into reality. This is because we fail to break them down into their most essential components.
If you think of the project at only its highest level, the tasks needed to actually accomplish it will never happen. To put it another way, you cannot paint the barn if you have not bought the paint. You need to identify some objectives, which if you implement, will lead you toward your goal.
Company XYZ has determined three objectives to implement in moving toward a 10% increase in sales over a six month period:
- We will intentionally provide a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere to put clients at ease and make them feel at home.
- We will seek ways to organize information to make it easy to understand and engaging.
- We will become systematic in our approach to sales.
Determine three objectives which support your own goal based on the example above.
STEP THREE: Drilling Down
Even with objectives defined, your plan is still at too high a level of detail to be effective. Your next step will be to drill down– to identify the actual tasks that need to be completed in order to implement each objective.
For example, Company XYZ identified the following tasks necessary to put objective #1 into action:
- Bake cookies every morning and afternoon to spread fresh baked smell, and provide a snack.
- Provide hot or cold beverages in model home kitchen depending upon weather.
- Designate a sitting area within the model home where sales agent and clients can talk as opposed to sitting across from one another at a desk.
- Designate a toy room for children so that parents are not distracted while they tour the home and meet with the sales agent.
Choose one of your objectives and break it down into tasks.
STEP FOUR: Get Out Your Calendar
What will it take for Company XYZ to get those cookies in an out of the oven? Someone will need to stock the freezer with slice and bake dough, get cookie sheets and spatulas and some paper plates and napkins. How does Wednesday look? Great. Write it down.
Capture the actual action items on your calendar and proceed to get the job done. It sounds like an elementary concept, but its not. In fact, this is the part where most marketing plans fall down. Great ideas, but no plan for follow through.
Whether your goal calls for a high profile grand opening event, creating a logo, or coming up with a customer satisfaction index, these four simple steps will ensure that you get the job done, and can measure your results.