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Grow Your Business With a Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is essential to the strategic, consistent growth of your small business. Why? Because a marketing plan is like a roadmap: You don’t have to follow the route you originally planned when you first set out, but you need a place to start and a destination. You’ll undoubtedly take detours along the way, but a marketing plan will at least keep you on the right track.

Developing a marketing plan doesn’t have to be a daunting and time-consuming task. You just need a workable plan that keeps you heading straight on the road to success.

A marketing plan includes:

 

Understanding Your Market and Competitors:

An easy way to know your market is to simply ask customers (and prospects) what they want. See what your competitors are doing. Can you provide the same product/service at a lower cost and with better service? Important elements of a marketing plan include understanding:

  • If you’re a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond – You’ll be chasing a different type of customer depending on what type of “fish” you are
  • How you can capitalize on your competitors’ weaknesses – What do their customers want that they’re not delivering?
  • Whether there is too much competition in your market – Think about the best niche for your business

Understanding Your Customer:

This is a critical aspect of your small business marketing plan. When you know who your customers are, what they desire, and what motivates them to buy, you can effectively market your product/service to them.

Developing Your Marketing Message and Communication Strategies:

Your marketing message will begin with defining your unique selling proposition (USP), that one thing that sets you apart from your competitors. A compelling marketing message lets prospects know:

  • You understand their problems or needs
  • You’re the best business to solve those problems or meet those needs
  • Your solution will benefit them in very specific ways. Remember to focus on benefits rather than features.

Your marketing plan should also take into account the ways you’ll deliver your marketing message. Focus on a few mediums that make the most sense for your target market. Examples include:

  • Websites
  • Advertising
  • Direct marketing
  • Social networking
  • Business and professional organizations
  • Client Events
  • Trade shows

Setting Goals:

The goals in your marketing plan should be both financial and non-financial. Financial goals include annual revenue, gross profit, and marketing budget. Non-financial goals include the number of clients acquired each month, the number of face-to-face meetings, and so on. Remember that all of your goals should be measured as you continue to develop your marketing plan.

Developing Your Marketing Budget:

If you’re just starting your business and you’re unsure of your marketing budget, assess your available funds and begin with a ballpark number. After you’ve been in business for awhile, you’ll have a good idea of what it takes to market your business. Update your marketing plan accordingly each year.

Is your business on the right track? If not, it’s time to get started on a marketing plan for your small business.