A marketing plan is vital to achieving your financial objectives. Say for example that you want to increase your sales by 10%, how are you actually going to achieve this? By increasing the number of units sold, market share, new programs or services, or improving customer awareness?
You need to devise a plan to achieve your goals, based on your marketing objectives. Let’s start with your marketing strategies.
There are a broad range of strategies that you can use to achieve your objectives. They include:
- Defining your target market
- Product positioning
Your target market needs to be defined so that you can tailor your message to the right market, otherwise your marketing will be a waste of time. You need to be crystal clear on WHO you want to target. A target market of “anyone who wants to pay me” will make your marketing results dismal, because it is too vague.
One of the best ways I have seen to really hone in on your target market is to analyse your demographics and psychographics and come up with an ‘avatar’, like a real person. Her name might be ‘Jane’, she’s over 35, married with two kids, running a business, time poor and constantly worried about how to manage her cashflow. When you’re crafting your marketing message, keep Jane in mind and anticipate what problems of hers you can solve.
From this perspective, you should be able to develop your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Why would Jane hire you instead of someone else in your field? What makes you unique? You must convey the benefits derived from your product or service, because people buy based on ‘wants’ not ‘needs’. Put yourself in Jane’s shoes when tailoring your marketing message. What kind of ‘pain’ would she be feeling on a daily basis? How can you fix that pain with your product or service? Craft your marketing message by targeting the kind of emotions she would be experiencing.
In terms of product position, what are the features, names and packaging of your products? Are there any services involved? Do you provide guarantees?
What price will the market bear for your product/service? Make sure that your mark-ups cover all costs and leave you with a healthy profit margin. What about wholesale pricing? Will you give discounts for bulk purchases? How about credit costs?
How will you promote your products/services? How will you create customer awareness and promote the benefits of your products/services? Will you use advertising, sales promotions, direct mail or public relations (in the next section I go into more detail about the various marketing tools available).
What are your distribution methods for your products/services? Who are the distributors and/or retailers? Where are the physical stores? Are there fulfilment houses for online stores? What transportation methods are used and is any warehousing necessary?
Once you have determined your approach, it’s time to choose the marketing tools you will use to assist you in achieving your marketing and financial objectives.
All tools have monetary and/or time costs associated with them. Some will give you more ‘bang’ for your buck or leverage your time more efficiently.
Some tools include:
- Direct mail
- Internet marketing
- Media relations/publicity
- Cold calling
- Joint ventures
- Social media
The trick to implementing tools is to concentrate on a few and give them your full attention. Pick the tools that resonate with you. For example, if you prefer talking to writing, create videos to convey your marketing message on your website. Use the tools you feel comfortable with, and you’ll be more likely to stick to your marketing schedule.
The final step to your marketing plan is mapping out all your marketing tasks on a calendar. By mapping everything out on a large wall calendar, you’ll be able to see at a glance exactly what marketing task you should be working on. You can slot in specific promotions and work backwards to determine when each task is required in order to stay on track.
Have you linked your financial plan to your marketing plan? If your goal is a 10% increase in sales, you can sit back and hope that it just happens out of the blue, OR you can align your financial plan to your marketing plan and take specific actions to achieve your goal. Sure, some growth happens organically, but wouldn’t you rather have a plan in place to know exactly what you should be doing everyday to grow your business?
My best tip is to take action and loads of it! You’d be amazed at what you can achieve when you focus on your marketing every day! So, what marketing task will you work on today?
P.S. Want to learn more about achieving your goals?
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