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If you’re thinking about developing a marketing programme, you need to begin with a good marketing plan. In over 20 years of marketing I’ve seen my share of marketing plans from simple to expensive plans with hundreds of pages.
The irony is that many of the expensive marketing plans end up on a shelf and rarely get implemented. The simple plans, if researched and implemented effectively, have the greatest impact.
Regardless of the scope, it should be a fluid document, based on solid research, with an understanding of where you fit in the competitive landscape, and MUST include attainable and measurable outcomes.
1. Market Research
Collect, organize, and record information pertinent to the market you want to target, and include both the controllable and uncontrollable variables that influence this market. You need to consider:
What market dynamics influence your market?
Which customers have the most need and who should you target?
Which potential partners can help you reach your customers?
What are the buying behaviour characteristics?
What product or service already satisfies this market and which competitors offer similar services?
What are current sales in this industry and who seems to have the lion’s share?
What benchmarks in the industry should you measure yourself against?
What channels or suppliers will you need to rely on?
Are there any barriers preventing you from reaching your market?
2. Target Market
Understand where your product / service fits in the market and describe who you want to reach, why this is important and how you’re going to do it. The best approach is to find a gap where there is customer demand, and where your competitors are not satisfying this demand as well as you could do it.
3. Product / Service
Describe your product. How does your product relate to the market? What does your market need, what do they currently use, what do they need above and beyond current use? What added value can you offer that can over meet customer expectations?
Describe your competition. Develop your “unique selling proposition.”, which should be articulated as a “unique customer value” What makes you stand apart from your competition? What is your competition doing better, the same or worse than you and where is the gap?
5. Your overall business strategy and statement of intent
Write a few sentences that state who you’re selling to, what you’re selling and what makes you distinct. Challenge your business concept across all the areas of your business to ensure it holds up under scrutiny.
6. Market Strategies
Write down the Marketing and Promotion strategies that you want to use or at least consider using to include:
Partnering & Networking
External communication – Advertising, publicity, promotions, sales collateral, online media, social networks
Internal communication – staff and partners
7. Pricing, Positioning and Branding
From the information you’ve collected, establish strategies for determining the price of your product, where your product will be positioned in the market and how you will achieve brand awareness.
Match strategies to budgets. What strategies can you afford? What can you do in house, what do you need to outsource?
9. Marketing Goals
Establish quantifiable marketing goals. This means goals that you can turn into numbers. For instance, your goals might be to gain at least 30 new clients or to sell 10 products per week, or to increase your income by 30% this year. Your goals should include sales, profits and customer satisfaction criteria.
10. Monitor Your Results
Test and analyze. Identify the strategies that are working through customer feedback:
Database management tools
By researching your markets, your competition, and determining your unique positioning, you are in a much better position to promote and sell your product or service. By establishing goals for your marketing campaign, you can better understand whether or not your efforts are generating successful results.
Be sure to use your plan as a living document. Successful businesses review the status of their campaigns against set objectives. This ensures ongoing improvements to your marketing initiatives and helps with future planning.