A detailed and organised plan for marketing a small business is an element often missing from even an otherwise highly strategic multi-year plan for a company’s evolution. Some small business owners face the concept of writing a marketing plan from the self-fulfilling prophecy of considering themselves too disorganised or not having the requisite writing abilities. Neither of those disadvantages are important enough to stop you from exploiting all the advantages you gain from putting such a plan into concrete form. If you just follow these tips for creating a plan for marketing your small business, those shortcomings play even less of a role.
Writing the Description
The first step in creating a marketing plan is writing the description of exactly what you are in the business of doing. The main obstacle here is trying to fit every single detail of operations into the plan. The most effective marketing stratagem is one that boils the description down to the essentials. The best way to accomplish this is by starting out with a maximum word count you commit to not going over by even a single word. Then take that first draft and try to reduce the word count by another 25%. What you really want to end up with is a description not of what your business does, but what you are in the business of doing. Try to come up with a final draft for your business description of less than 25 words.
What Benefit is Your Business to Customers?
A marketing strategy must be customer-focused in order to succeed and that goal begins with a full understanding of how your customer prospers by conducting business with you. Answer the following questions with brutal honesty. Why would you buy the product your make or the service you offer? What do customers really gain from doing business with you instead of doing business with your competitors? What is essentially going on during this element of creating a marketing plan is the distillation of why customers need your business. Once you fully grasp why your business is needed (as well as determining why your business is not needed), you will have a significantly deeper understanding of where your marketing plan needs to be directed.
How to Position Your Business in the Marketplace
The marketplace is crowded. That is pretty much true regardless of what you are selling or offering. A marketing plan that fails to take into account the most effective strategy for positioning yourself within that crowded marketplace is a marketing plan almost facing certain doom. An important element in this strategy is communicating that position to customers and clients. If they have little idea where you are in relation to competitors, you have little hope for standing out and making your company seem necessary. Your marketing plan needs to introduce a strong foundation for both short-term and long-term strategies for positioning your business so that you do stand out and you are deemed more desirable.
What is Your Target Audience?
Are you trying to market your small business to every age and interest when your own sales figures show you have very narrow demographic appeal? A small business new to the marketplace cannot afford to waste time, money and resources doing the equivalent of trying to sell orthopedic shoes to teenagers. Sure, it would be great to break into that demographic, but the reality is that it’s definitely a short-term loser and probably a long-term loser. (Although stranger things have happened.) Know your target audience and focus your marketing plan exclusively in that direction. Only when you have become established should your marketing plan began to expand and branch out toward untapped demographics. The things you need to know to when crafting this part of the marketing plan: age range, lifestyle interests, income, geography, preferred purchasing methods, etc.
Keep Your Enemies Closer
Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer by creating a marketing plan that fully comprehends the nature of competition. Get to know as much about your competitors’ way of doing business as you know about your own methods. Do the research necessary to learn both the greatest strengths of your competitors and their hidden weaknesses. Your marketing plan can then build upon this knowledge by improving upon what they do right and capitalizing upon what they do wrong.
Who are You Marketing Your Business To?
Is this marketing plan going to develop a strategy for making your small business known among neighborhood customers or among wholesalers across the world? Will you be doing business within the public sector where money is no object or with the private sector that is totally at the mercy of politicians being held hostage by anti-tax fanatics committing to extricating every dollar they can out of budgets at every level of government. Your marketing plan will be heavily dependent upon whether you sell directly or indirectly to your customers. Are you a wholly owned and operated small business or a franchise?
Advertising is just as key in creating a marketing plan as it is in creating success in the American marketplace. Offering the best product on the market or having a monopoly on a unique service cannot guarantee commerical success. The customer who is unaware of your product or service is absolutely indistinguishable from the customer who doesn’t need or want what your business has to sell. If you don’t properly advertise what your small business has to offer, you face a long, uphill battle. With that in mind, create a marketing plan based upon a well-researched and highly detailed understanding of the most effective media for advertising your business within your budgetary potential.
Keep these points in mind when devising your marketing plan for your small business and you will strategically network your way into success!