The purpose of a marketing plan is to isolate the key elements and actions of how you win and keep customers, and ultimately to attain a specific marketing goal. Marketing goals are things like “increase sales ten percent” or “successfully move into ___ market.” With a plan in place, you always know what to do and how to do it, so you’re not having to dream up new ideas with every campaign.
A marketing plan embodies your marketing strategy—the overall vision for the marketing of your business—but also the shorter-term sales goals and actions you will take to meet them.
Following these five steps to work out your plan:
1.) Analyze the Current Scene
Where does your company currently stand?
This is not a trick question or one that requires a lot of over-analyzing. Rather, you need only to state what you company is and what it does; what products or services it offers; the benefits of those products or services; and what it is about your company that makes you preferable to your competition.
Be brutally honest with yourself: look not only at your company’s strengths but also its weaknesses. Strengths would be such things as what makes your product and/or service better than the rest; what it is about your company that gives it an advantage over the competition.
But then also consider the weaknesses: Is your market highly competitive? Do you face any sort of competitive threat? Is the company strong internally? Are there areas that need improvement?
2.) Identify Your Target Audience
How well do you know your ideal customer? Let’s start with something general and move forward to specifics.
Write a simple customer profile. Include the concrete demographics, such as age, geography, and income. Then move into their buying habits, such as how often they purchase your kind of product or service, as well as why—is it on the basic of convenience? Price? Quality?
Then take it a step further, looking who your customer really is–their attitude and personal convictions:
- Do they lean towards innovation or conventionality?
- Are they outspoken and active or withdrawn?
- Are they leaders or followers?
- Are they modern or more traditional?
You can do this kind of customer analysis and summary, even if your customers are other businesses. In that case, you would focus on the type and size of business, the job titles you deal with and other similar and relevant factors.
3.) Establish Your Current Marketing Goal
The entire purpose of the marketing plan is to help you reach your marketing goal. For a business that’s up and running more or less successfully, goals are typically expressed like the following:
- Increase sales by 10%
- Expand into a new geographical territory
- Expand into a new market
For a new business, the goal may be as simple as “bring on 10 new clients.”
There may be more than one goal, so make a list and ensure that each list item is something that has an end to it, so you will know when you’ve reached it.
4.) Work Out How to Communicate to Customers and Prospects
While this blog is focused on direct mail marketing with postcards, we realize that you may have found success reaching certain classes of prospects via other marketing channels.
Work out how to best reach prospects at every step of the sales cycle—from cold prospects (postcards are excellent for this group and we can help you find and reach more of them in your geographical area) to warmer prospects, all the way to your active customers.
The best to way to figure out which channel is the best one to reach a particular prospect on is to identify where this prospect class goes to gather information about the kind of product or service you sell. For instance, if you find that a certain segment of your potential prospects subscribe to a particular person’s or company’s blog, subscribe to it and read it. I will give you ideas on what this audience expects and appreciates—information you can use to inform your own approach.
5.) Decide What Your Marketing Budget Will Be
Marketing, rather than being an expense, is an investment on future income. Companies that like to have a constant flow of business market routinely—it’s a regular action, rather than a “one and done” activity. But quality marketing is not free. It costs time, money, or both.
Today, the Internet makes it easy for small to medium-size businesses to find cost-effective marketing methods for any budget. But you may still discover that you’ve spent more some months than you’d set aside.
In such a case, just jockey what’s been most effective against what’s most affordable. If need be, hold off on the more expensive marketing methods until the less costly ones start producing sufficient income.
For as little as $0.59 per each, including postage, full-color postcards are a ridiculously good marketing value, and you can create you own right now, online, and even target a new batch of prospects to mail them to by logging in to www.prospectsplus.com/pei.
Or, if designing a postcard is not in your “plans,” you can turn it over to our design and marketing pros at Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109. Tell them about your business and your goals and they design and target a postcard that gets you there.