What’s in a Marketing Plan

No matter what industry you're in or how long you've been operating for every single one of us is in the business of selling. Whether it's our expertise, craftsmanship or product that we're selling, every interaction we make with people (whether you realise it or not) is a form of advertising.  

The astute amongst us realise this and go to great lengths to build the perfect Sales Funnel strategy. Many Small and Medium business, though, fall into the trap of investing money (sometimes big money!) into 'Marketing' in channels such as Social Media Ads, Direct Mail flyers and expensive networking group memberships without any due diligence.

Let me ask you this – would you buy an investment property without proper analysis and planning? Would you hand over your well-earned dollars without knowing the suburb, the quality of the property or the capital growth potential? The answer seems pretty obvious, right? Yet time and time again business owners believe that the antidote to boosting sales and getting new customers is to spend money on Marketing. They're 100% right, Marketing does bring new business and opportunity through the door but if you 'Market' before you 'Plan' then you may as well throw those precious dollars out the window.

There is a very simple solution to winning the Marketing lottery and it involves not playing a game of chance at all! The answer is to spend time building a solid Marketing Plan before you spend the dollars. This type of Strategic Business Planning will allow you to earn a positive Return on Investment (ROI), potentially having a multiplier effect on your sales potential.

So, what comprises a Marketing Plan? There are many different ways to build a brilliant Marketing Plan, therefore, today we'll cover the 9 rock-solid basics to get you started.

1. Conduct Market Research – before you dream up the perfect advertising campaign it is absolutely essential that you invest time in understanding who's buying similar products or services to yours, who the competitors in the industry are, the current market trends, and where the opportunities for the future may be (do your research right and you may hit a 'first mover advantage' goldmine!).

2. Name Your Target Market – understand who exactly your niche or target market are and describe them in detail. Determine what they buy, where they shop, what they find appealing and what they don't.

3. State Your Product or Service –this seems like a no-brainer but can you articulate your product or service, and why your target market need it, in just one sentence? You can expand on your punchy 1-liner with a list of benefits.

4. Develop A Unique Value Proposition –creating a memorable Value Proposition is so important that it should be your number one priority before you do anything in business! What makes a Value Proposition really special is when it is unique. A Unique Value Proposition (i.e. why a customer should buy from you before anyone else) is only possible if you have spent the time analysing the playing field. Do you know what your competitors are saying and how they're engaging your target market?

5. Create a Mission Statement – your Mission Statement (which should feature on your website, Socials and presentation materials) should include what you're selling, who you're selling it to and what your Unique Value Proposition is.

6. Brainstorm Marketing & Promotion Strategies – now that you're sharp on who your target customers are and why they should buy from you write down all the possible avenues to engage with them. Remember, the aim of the game is to get leads and convert them to sales, therefore, everything you brainstorm may not be the right strategy right now. For example, if you're targeting a demographic that rarely use Facebook, perhaps don't spend money on a Facebook Ad. The same can be said for any form of Marketing, be savvy and brutal in what channel you choose!

7. Determine Your Pricing, Positioning and Branding – it's one thing to have a great product but have you thought about how to price it strategically? If your company brand is 'premium' and you charge a budget price then you're less likely to make a sale. Similarly, if your price is on the upper end of the spectrum but your packaging or advertising looks 'cheap' then your target market are unlikely to take you seriously.

8. Lock in Your Budget – and stick to it! Don't be afraid to start small and experiment before going 'all in' on Marketing spend.

9. Create a Set of Goals and KPI's – it is impossible to know if your Marketing campaign was successful if you don't determine exactly what you're measuring. The secret is to create a set of SMART goals; those are goals which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Based.

Once you have your goals and Marketing Plan sorted go forth, create your content and release it into the wild! Chances are you will experience excellent results and get great 'bang' for your Marketing buck!

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