Embracing entrepreneurship is only meant for the brave ones. And you are among the real warriors I must say. As you embark on this adventure, you need a couple of things to prepare. First the business plan, and then next would be the marketing plan. Be it a product which can be physically seen and touched or a service that can’t be physically touched or felt by hand, the success of the offering that you will introduce to the world will be determined by these two plans. After you are done working on the business plan, the next thing that you must do is to take a break for a while before the work on the marketing plan begins.
To start off, what the heck is marketing plan actually and why it is important?
In simpler words, it means a set of goals forecasted which you are going to achieve by using a set of marketing strategies and activities that will run for a period of time. Example, let’s just say your company is introducing a new smartphone to the market. You then decided to do a very thorough marketing plan that will answer all critical questions to support the monetisation idea such as these: 1) Who are you marketing this smartphone to. 2) How will you be marketing the smartphone out to reach these people? 3) What is the strategy to make them buy your smartphone? 4) Why must these people buy your smartphone and not other brands’?
These are just a fraction, there should be many more questions you need create so that you won’t miss anything and provide the answer at the same time. Now we come to the exciting part which is how to create a marketing plan which is effective to your business or service. Below are the top crucial questions you need to address in your marketing journey to have a sustainable business moving forward.
You first need to know details about your current business situation. Start by understanding the underlying facts and details about your product or service, the challenges you will be expecting to face from the market, problems or barriers you are going to face on your journey to attract new customers or clients. There is an important factor which I always see brands keep on forgetting to factor which is the law and regulations of the country you are operating in as these laws can be changed frequently in certain countries.
In this phase, you also have to come up with distinguished, definitive value proposition to make customers buy your product or services. Here, you have to identify the strength of your brand and products to smoothen the purchasing process. For example, your product’s strength can be your low-cost price tag, friendly customer service or perhaps your product’s features, the speed of response to customers or maybe your product’s overall distinctive quality. At the same time, you also have to be aware of your weaknesses too. This one, you won’t be able to discover immediately. Some brands are depending on the market to be their biggest source for feedbacks so that they can improve. No matter what your methods are in getting feedbacks to overcome your weaknesses, be wary of your competitors. They will try to take advantage of these weaknesses of yours to push their products and hence outdo your effort.
You also have to understand the threats you will be facing. And usually, this is determined by the competition, own weaknesses, the market and also by the consumers themselves. You also have to observe the economic trends and financial indicators that could affect your overall strategy. Never ever downplay or undermine economic fluctuations. Inflation rates, for example, is something you might want to observe closely prior to launching your brands or products.
One of many creative ways to identify your strength and weaknesses is by using a survey. Ask the right questions to them, their answers will help determine your next move on what’s needed to be improved on. You can do that by printing survey forms out and distribute them accordingly, by doing a voice call or by just emailing them
The second element is defining your target market or target audience. These might sound like a complicated term when you first come across it. To simplify, other words for the target market or target audience term is a group of people who are the potential buyers of your products or services. These are the people who will be interested to spend the money on your products or services. If your answer to this question is everybody, then you are wrong. It isn’t. Your target must be accurate and precise about their identity.
The best way to understand deeper about your target audience is by deploying a market research. It is an organised effort of data gathering of the people demography you’re targeting for decision purposes.
Why this is crucial is because when you can match your product with that specific group of people, the purchasing process will be shorter and smoother. The convincing part will be easier too. These people have the right type of needs that can be well satisfied with the products you’re selling. Simply write down a great copywriting within the ads or promotions, these people will quickly understand the subliminal message behind it. They will quickly understand why they must purchase the products. With this, as a brand yourself you will be able to do measure and alter your message within the materials to suit certain target group.
The third element in the marketing plan is this; A list of marketing goals you have in mind for short, medium and long-term. You have to be specific in putting the right parameters to measure the effectiveness of each goal set. First, determine a long-term goal. Then work backwards into medium-term and then short-term. Ensure each goal set is realistic or else you will be wasting a lot of time.
The fourth element is the development of marketing strategies or action items to support the goals. Let’s have a look at the most common and effective ways to develop your marketing strategy to achieve your goals. 1) Promotion, promotion and promotion. Customers will be so happy, their desire to purchase increases when they see the words discounts and promotions. Try to participate in exhibitions, shows, malls, small events or even some social functions and try to offer a discounted price to them. When the customers notice that you are offering a special or discount price, they will either purchase it right away due to a bargain, purchase it due to a need, purchase it but then regret it at home because of impulse purchase or merely drop by your booth out of curiosity of what is so happening at your booth. 2) Digital marketing and social media presence. You have to be present on social media because this is the most effective way to distribute your content inexpensively. Take advantage of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and others daily to share your video, articles, posters, infographics, images and other beneficial content to the audience. You have to be present on these social networking channels and via a website too. The customers must see you repeated everywhere so that they will not only remember you but also they would be able to feel that you’re creating a great bonding with them. Besides a business page, create groups on social media too for your audience to connect with you and talk deeper about your brand, products and feedbacks.
This part will lead you to establish a USP for your brand and products. USP or Unique Selling Proposition is the answer to a question Why You Must Buy From Me. It also means that you need to have valid reasons why your product is better than others to stand out. People will buy more from brands and products that stand out. Thus, your USP has to be as specific as possible.
The fifth element you must incorporate into your marketing plan is the budget. At this phase, you need to carefully work on the numbers. Accurate calculations of the capital, costs and expenses, potential income and so on are required. The budget must be easy to understand, precise and most of all realistic. The best is to start small and slowly grow. A budget for your marketing is also as crucial as others and must be reasonably allocated. Example, don’t get discouraged when your advertising plan doesn’t work for the first time. You may spend $5,000 on trade shows, $5,000 on radio ads, $200 on flyers, $1,000 on social media, and $2,000 on optimizing your website’s SEO. Suddenly when the radio ads aren’t producing good ROIs and the flyers side seems more successful, you can always tweak the plan to suit the methods that work.
The sixth and the last part of your marketing plan is to keep your plan always up-to-date. Like any other plans, a marketing plan is a living, breathing documented ideas or strategy. Analysing your results and tweaking strategies are important to reach your business goals. Many factors can impact your marketing results including market conditions, demand for your product or service, pricing issues, trends and people’s affordability. It’s important you stay alert of all of these and adjust your marketing plan accordingly.