One of the main reasons small businesses fail is due to ineffective marketing as a result of not having a practical marketing plan. You have a great product or service, but you haven’t determined:
- Who are my ideal customers and why?
- What makes my business different from the competition?
- What does my business offer to those ideal customers?
- How do I price and package my offerings to provide the best value?
- How do I reach my ideal client?
There are eight steps to developing a solid marketing strategy for your business as shown in the following diagram.
- Define your vision and goals: Start with a vision that describes what you want your business to be. The vision should inspire, energize, motivate and stimulate your creativity. Define goals you would like to accomplish in a 12 month period. Your goals set the direction you want to take with your marketing activities. Do you want to create visibility for your company? Are you trying to generate demand for your services? Do you want to establish yourself as the expert in your field? Your goals need to be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based.
- Understand your ideal client and competition: Determine what motivates your ideal client, what causes them pain, and why they would be interested in buying from you. Then determine how you are different from your competition and how you want to be viewed by your target. Highlight why you are different and what value you offer to your clients.
- Develop your core message: Your core message is a short description of your business that enables prospective buyers to know who you work with and what value you bring to the relationship. It conveys this message in a manner that literally attracts the right customers to you. A good core message projects what makes you unique and a benefit to your ideal client.
- Identify your brand identity and apply it consistently across all of your marketing efforts: You may need to define your personal brand and your corporate brand depending on your business. In either case, your brand should fit your personality and help get you noticed.
- Determine marketing strategy and budget: Identify the strategies you will use to achieve your goals. First you need to determine what media channels you will use – traditional or new media. Then you select which strategies you will choose: advertising, direct marketing, public relations, events, word of mouth, and strategic alliances. The types of marketing you choose within your strategy will depend on your unique requirements. Your budget will help you determine your cash flow by mapping the budget needed for your sales tools and each marketing strategy you decide to use.
- Identify activities for each strategy: Your activities should be selected so they accomplish your goals, reach your ideal client, make sense for your business, can be executed regularly and effectively, and are affordable.
- Create your sales tools to support the tactics: These tools can include business cards, brochures, a web site or blog, white papers, testimonials, or promotional items.
- Execute, track and measure results: Read the post on the Masterful Marketing blog called Marketing Execution – Plan, Execute, Track, Measure.
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