Marketing isn’t a simple business activity to do in your business due to all of the moving parts both online and offline. To do it right, it requires a great deal of careful planning and many businesses without a massive marketing budget aren’t able to outsource their marketing tactics and have to handle this aspect of their business themselves.
So, for many businesses this is no easy task and this is why companies need to go through a marketing planning process in line with their business goals to create the end outcome …a marketing plan.
A marketing plan is a detailed document that includes the data and information you need to make sound marketing decisions and set a course of marketing actions that you can implement immediately or over a period of time, usually monthly and forwards towards developing a six month and a yearly plan.
Which means, drafting a marketing plan can take a great deal of thinking, time and effort, but the rewards can be very beneficial to attract and convert potential and new customers to both existing and newly developed products and services. And remember that the term “products” refers to whatever people buy from you …it actually means your “offering” which also includes services.
With that in mind, here are some questions as a starting point to get to get you planning…
Exactly who is your target customer audience?
If you’re already selling, start by taking a good in-dept look at your existing customers. Who are they? Where are they geographically or online? What do they like most about your business offer, your products and services? Try to recall any gather positive feedback because if your brand and products and services resonate with people (B2C) and businesses (B2B), they will likely also resonate with other consumers and businesses like them.
If it’s the case that your starting out and you don’t already have customers, defining your target market will take a bit more work but this is a very import aspect for you to begin with any new product or service which you intend to offer to a chosen market.
Also, carry out market research to glean some idea of who your target market is and take a good look at companies that offer similar products and services to yours to figure out: Who is buying from them? Where are buyers situated online and offline? What are their circumstances? Why could they benefit from your products and services?
What specifically makes your products and services unique?
In today’s global online marketplace it’s almost certain that there are other companies marketing and selling goods and services similar to your own. Which means you have to identify what makes yours unique to you and different from others. So, why would someone buy from you and not another competitor company?
If the unique qualities of your products don’t come to mind immediately, some work needs to be done on your USP (unique selling proposition). Do some work on this, especially with some key customers, and look for the strengths of your offers. And if you discover that your product resembles everything else on the market, then you must quickly work out how can you change it or your service support processes to make it unique?
What do you really want your marketing plan to achieve?
If you’re taking for granted that your business needs to market, this could be a big mistake. There are two reasons for this: Firstly, even if you have a new product where people are making a bee line to your door, it won’t always be like this with competitors lurking to get in on your act. And secondly, you still need to connect and nurture with the majority of your would-be customers who don’t yet know, like and trust you …in other words, to build loyal long-term clients by taking them on a journey with you.
What’s your customer journey?
This is where you marketing plans takes action… You have to plan the exact steps along the customer path to: Get their attention; develop interest in your offer; nurture their trust in your honesty and promotions; bring them to a buying decision; convert them into a happy customer; satisfy and delight them after their purchase; sell more offers; and get them to testify and refer you.
In summary, marketing planning is what you need to do in order to identify exactly what you want to achieve through your marketing activities because this will guide all of your efforts and help you choose which tactics are most appropriate to promote and satisfy potential and existing customers.
Once you know who your target market is, what’s unique and different about your product and service offers, and what you want to get out of your marketing efforts, then you’re ready to get started with implementing your marketing plan.