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"You got to be careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there." - Yogi Berra
You've got to know where you're going if you are going to get there. Streamlined operations and solid financials will only benefit you if you have customers coming in your door. Committing to a strategically developed marketing plan will help you to grow your customer base and improve your business. Creating such plans ensures you are allocating marketing dollars to the most productive marketing strategies.
This essential piece of development need not be a daunting task. The most effective marketing plans are those that are well thought out and documented in a simple, concise format.
A streamlined marketing plan should outline the following:
A summary of industry /market trends- they directly impact how you want to market your business. Some key trends right now are group buying (like Groupon) and planned spontaneity (such as Flash-mobs). You can capitalize on these trends in your marketing plan. It is important to note that the traditional advertising vehicles used in the past are much less influential to today's consumers. Where and how you communicate with customers may need to be reevaluated.
Customer profiles and key messages- identify your target customer bases and their values and then decide what messaging is most important to communicate to each of them. For example, I'm currently working with a farm in Newbury who identified that some of their customers are employees of a near-by industrial park so they want to focus how to better connect with that industrial community to bring even more people in.
Clear goals- these help identify what opportunities and actions are most important to pursue. Do you want to differentiate your products from the competition or expand into a new customer base, or promote new offerings? For my client, they want to differentiate themselves from the competition and to focus on how to promote new product offerings.
Marketing strategies and marketing tactics- describe what actions are needed to achieve previously determined goals. With each tactic that you decide to pursue, be sure to outline:
- The rationale for pursuing that marketing tactic. For example, if you chose to advertise in The Improper Bostonian, you should be able to link their readership with your target customer.
- An allocated budget. When considering your budget, be sure to evaluate the potential return on your investment. For example, if you consider participating in Restaurant Week, you will want to calculate how many additional customers you need to cover the cost of promoting and participating.
- A timeline. When do you plan to execute each item and when will you be able to evaluate the success of the tactic.
Performance Measurement Methods- how you will evaluate and measure results. For example, if you sent out a marketing mailing on February 28th for a St. Patrick's Day event, how will you know the piece was successful? Did sales increase from the previous year? Did you get the press covered you desired?
Now, get planning! Next month, I will share tips on how to implement your strategic marketing plan. As always, please feel free to email me with any comments or questions on how to create your own marketing plan.
This article was co-authored by Doug Betensky, President of Upside Business Consultants, a marketing consulting and internet marketing firm that helps companies grow.