Perhaps you have recently started a  business.  You hear from others that  you must have a marketing plan. But what is it and why do you need one?

In a nutshell, a marketing plan is a blueprint which outlines a business’ overall marketing efforts.

It is  usually a yearly plan and is often broken down into smaller, more manageable time frames, such as quarterly or monthly.

Do you need to have one? 

Having a plan in place will ultimately help you to achieve your goals and will also save you time and money while you do so.

Identify Your Customer

The first step in creating a marketing plan is to define who your customer is.  Before you begin, look to your current customers. Are any of them your ideal customer?  If so, what do you know about them?  Build a picture of the person or business that is your perfect customer.  You can get as detailed as you want with this exercise.  You can dive down into specifics, with such information as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Occupation
  • Location (home/work)
  • Education level
  • Size of family
  • Type of home
  • Type of vehicle

And so on.

What Differentiates Your Product or Service?

Now that you’ve identified your customer, focus on your product or service and define what makes you different. How do you stand out from the crowd?  What’s going to make that customer want to purchase your product or service?

Plan How to Reach Your Customer

You know who your ideal customer is and you know what makes you stand out.  Now you need to put together a strategy to enable you to reach them.  Here’s where advertising comes into your marketing plan.  So that we’re clear, there is a difference between marketing and advertising.

Marketing is all aspects of products or services, such as advertising, customer service, sales and so on.

Advertising, on the other hand, is the promotion of a product, service, brand, etc. via any media source, such as print, video, social media and so on.  Advertising is part of a marketing plan.

There are many avenues you can use to promote your business.  Choose the best few and focus your time and energy one those channels.  These can include:

  • Print Advertising
  • Social Media
  • Email Marketing
  • Networking
  • Blogging/Writing Articles
  • Speaking
  • Trade Shows
  • Events and Promotions

Pricing Your Product or Service

Find out what your competition is charging for a similar product or service.  Is your ideal customer willing to pay that amount, or perhaps more a less?  Pricing your product or service might also take into consideration your geographic location, supply and demand and so on.

Is the Plan Working?

Once your plan is in place, starting working the strategy you have developed.  Remember to schedule intervals throughout the year when you should compare your plan to what is actually happening in your business.  If the plan is working, could it be improved?  If the plan is not working, what’s not happening that you thought should be happening?  What can you do to adjust the plan?

Your marketing plan must always be fluid enough to allow you to adjust it as necessary to take advantage of unexpected opportunities.

Finally, do you need help putting together your marketing plan?  At Make It Happen Services, that’s something we can help you with.

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