Posted: Tue 11th Nov 2014
Are you a small business or start-up without a marketing plan? Paula Hutchings, Enterprise Nation's marketing expert in residence provides 6 quick tips to get you going, and create a marketing plan that works!
A marketing plan is a vital document for your business to keep you on track and achieve defined business goals. It will provide you with an important framework to ensure that your marketing activities are carried out in a controlled way, and that your results (and profits!) are maximised. Even if you have been in business for a while without a plan, it's a good idea to create one.
A truly effectively marketing plan will deliver results when it's aligned with a wider business plan. Even if you only have a skeleton business plan, make sure that you are clear on your business goals and what you are looking to achieve. Clarity at this level will shape your marketing plan and ongoing activities, helping you to meet your business objectives.
Define, research and locate your target audience. Go beyond the usual demographics and really try and understand your target customers. What are their motivations, aspirations and needs? How and where do they consume media? Your marketing activities will likely fall flat and be ineffective if you have not sufficiently identified and researched your audience.
Your brand positioning statement will be a key ingredient that adds life to your marketing communications. What genuine benefits does your business offer customers and why should people buy from you? Be sure to dedicate uninterrupted time to creating a clear, specific and unambiguous description of what your business offers. A concise statement will also help you to develop your all-important elevator pitch and be able to confidently introduce your business to prospective customers.
How much profit do you make on each sale? Before you can allocate your marketing budget you need to be comfortable with how your business is currently performing (if you are already in business) and where potential growth opportunities are (and how big these opportunities are!). This information will guide you in allocating your marketing investment and significantly impact success. Even a modest marketing budget can achieve great results if invested wisely.
A successful marketing plan will include very specific, goal-driven measures. The goals of each marketing activity or campaign that you plan to undertake should be 'SMART':
Measurable: know if the goal is obtainable/know when it has been achieved
Agreed upon: agreement with all stakeholders as to what the goal should be
Realistic: within the availability of knowledge, resources and time
Time-specific: defined time period in which to achieve the goal
For many small businesses and start-ups, the key limitations or barriers to marketing success are time, money and marketing know-how. It's best to acknowledge these upfront rather than build a marketing plan that proves to be too expensive or labour-intensive. Be realistic about the resources that you have available to you and plan accordingly. You may even consider outsourcing non-core elements of your business to allow you to concentrate on the important (money-making) aspects. Remember that any marketing campaign can be adapted or scaled up as your business grows.
A marketing plan should be seen as an evolving guide that helps you to shape your marketing decisions. To be successful, ensure that you regularly refer back to your plan - review, test and adapt your marketing campaigns - don't leave your lovingly crafted marketing plan gathering dust!
If you'd like to hear more from Paula, we offer a free consultation, when you sign up to become an Enterprise Nation Member.