How many times have you envied your competitor for having taken his business to the sky limit? You specialize in the same services, used the same techniques to grow your business, then what worked magic for your competitor? Successful entrepreneurs have a clear and focussed marketing plan apart from a business plan which helps them win new customers and grow their businesses, along with enhancing their brand awareness.
Still confused between a business plan and a marketing plan?
A business plan focuses on various aspects of the business as a whole, whereas a marketing plan focuses on the strategies that will help you achieve the business goals. Precisely, a business plan tells you where to reach and a marketing plan tells you how to reach there.
To make your business successful, you first need to understand you targeted audience, their needs, the places where they hang around to find information and ways in which you can reach them. Unfortunately, whenever we talk about marketing plans, people correlate it to website development, social media engagement, blogging, email marketing and the like, but they seldom think of investing time to evaluate their decisions. To take your business to the next level, you need to take decisions that will make your tactics work better.
What is a Successful Marketing Plan?
Many entrepreneurs don’t realize the importance of implementing a marketing plan. A successful marketing plan gives you insights about the tools and strategies that will help you win customers and convert them into leads and achieve sales goals. It is a detailed plan about what to sell, how to sell and how to engage customers to create long term customer relationships, so that your business keeps growing.
There are no short-cuts to a successful marketing plan; you need be realistic and implement the strategies consistently. If you can’t show patience, you won’t be able to come out of the ‘survival mode’ and grow your business.
5 Things to Consider While Creating a Marketing Plan
The marketing strategies will depend on your business goals and your targeted audience, but basic ingredients remain the same. Before we move on to discuss the 5 vital aspects of creating a successful marketing plan, you need to understand that you should have a specific budget and people who can devote their time to marketing. This is very important since consistency is the most important aspect of a successful marketing plan.
Now let’s focus on the 5 things that entrepreneurs must consider for launching successful marketing plans:
- Take a Deeper Look
Start analyzing the current situation of your business. Determine where you stand and where you want to reach. The key to success for your business lies in the ability to position your products and services in a manner that indicates they offer better values for the customers.
Today’s audience is more knowledgeable and segmented, so to cater to their needs, you know your competitors and offer better value than them. Make a list of the strengths, weaknesses and goals of your company. Compare your products/ services to your competitors and determine how they are superior to them, this is will give you your strengths. Next identify the areas where you need improvements, for example if you need experienced staffs, improve the products/ services, etc. This will give you the weaknesses.
Next you need to identify the potential opportunities – say if you can tap into a new market and position your products/ services there, if you can add services to rope in more customers, etc. You should also consider the possible threats, if any. Next you need to identify the ideal buyers and think of places where you can find them. This takes us to the next phase of the marketing plan.
- Understand the Buyer Personas
The next important thing to consider is the buyer persona. Buyer personas are representations of ideal customers that are created based on detailed market research. Create buyer personas based on demographics such as age, gender, location, economic status, lifestyle, etc. Then you need to determine how well your service/ products cater to the needs of these personas.
What are your customers looking for? How often they require your services? How much are they willing to spend? Why would they choose you above your competitors? No matter what segment of customers you are targeting, you need to get clear answers to these questions. Having a clear picture of your targeted audience will help you design an effective media and public relations campaign. If you have spent a lot and still not driving enough sales, this means you were not able to narrow your market efficiently.
- Identify your Business and Marketing Goals
Now it is time to identify the business and marketing goals. What do you want to achieve? Do you want to increase sales or get more visitors? This will help you decide on the strategies that will make your efforts work and achieve the goals.
You should be able to measure the success of your marketing strategy and evaluate how close or far are you from your goals. Include monthly reviews, budget reviews, sales forecasts, etc. Have provisions for fine tuning the strategies whenever needed.
- Develop a Marketing Strategy
By now you have identified the best prospects and the business goals; all you are left with is outlining the marketing strategies that will help you reach the targeted audience and achieve the ultimate goals. Prospects are in various stages of sales cycle, so your marketing plans should combine strategies that will enable you to tap into the targeted audience irrespective of the stage of sales cycle.
You also need to put in some effort to identify the media that your targeted audience uses to fetch out information. You should then utilize these media channels to reach the prospects when they are most active.
- Fix a Marketing Budget
For successful marketing, you need to allocate a portion of your income towards your marketing efforts. You can reach the prospects in a number of ways such as through print media, social media, content marketing, PPC, etc. so you need to outline a marketing strategy that is a mix of all these.
Remember, a marketing plan is vital for your business and it should evolve along with your business. As the business requirements and goals change you should, you should also fine tune your marketing strategies to match the new goals.
The ultimate goal of a marketing plan is to help your business grow and improve its visibility and awareness across various channels. A successful marketing plan will help you rope in new customers and retain the existing ones, by engaging them in new and innovative ways.
Successful entrepreneurs know that a business strategy is incomplete without a well thought marketing plan. So if you still don’t have a marketing plan in place, start identifying your business goals and start planning your marketing tactics right now.