A recent survey by Gartner showed that the Marketing budgets of businesses in US and UK have risen up to 12% of company’s total revenue. An appreciable hike from previous year’s 10.5%. This is evidence of the fact that despite how brilliant your product or service is, it won’t sell itself.
You’ll need to showcase it in a bright light before those who need it. Marketing is the tool that helps you accomplish that purpose. That’s why an investment in marketing is just as important as, say an investment in staffing and inventory.
Wonder why you abruptly find yourself having a craving for a certain food after watching its ad on Tele? That’s marketing working its magic. Marketing is a subliminal way of getting hold of customer’s attention. Hence there’s a fine line between what we call effective marketing and outright spamming.
A clear, concise and well laid out marketing plan is what’s called for. This blog will help you make one for your business:
A marketing plan is just what it sounds like – a plan to do marketing. It lays down the tools and tactics needed to achieve the sales goals. The marketing plan has details on the products/services you’ll sell and its target audience. It specifies the objectives of acquiring new customers and the strategies to retain them.
STEP 1: ANALYSIS OF THE STATUS QUO
The marketing plan begins with a business’ situation analysis. Start by writing down the list of products’ and services your business currently offers and the competitive edge it holds in the market. It’s okay if you don’t hold many advantages over your competitors, it’s just about using little things to greater effect.
Focus on your niche and identify the customers who’re looking to avail your services. Performing all this market analysis will provide you a vantage point, from where you’ll be able to take stock of the current market scenario and learn what your competitors are up to. Furthermore, you understand the various threats and opportunities your business might be subject to. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready for the next step:
STEP 2: IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
The next step is creating a rough sketch of your target audience. A simple one-liner should suffice. This can be done in the form of demographics – age, sex, earnings, location and their habits.Understanding the habits of the target audience is quite crucial in an attempt to resonate and make a connection with them. Home in on their character: are they old-fashioned or modern? Introvert or extrovert? Leaders or Followers? How do they like to buy and in what quantity?
If you happen to be a B2B marketer, then you’ll have to find out details such as the business-size and type, job position, geo-location and any other traits that make them a possible target for your service. Be sure to narrow down the TA, because your later media and PR campaigns are going to be based on them.
STEP 3: DESCRIBE THE MARKETING GOALS
This should be a no-brainer. Writing down the goals will help you dedicate your marketing efforts to that end. Ask what’s the primary goals of your marketing campaign? Is to increase sales or the number of customers?
Further, turn those goals into measurable results by putting a number next to them. Say 10% increase in sales, every quarter etc. That way you’ll be able to keep track of your progress and make changes/alteration to the existing plan if the need arises.
STEP 4: DESCRIBE THE STRATEGIES AND TACTICS
This is where you get down to the business. In the earlier steps, you prepared an outline of your marketing plan and what it needs to accomplish, then identified who’ll be your potential customers. Now, you’ll ascertain the various tools and tactics to be employed to reach those prospects and accomplish your goals.
Your marketing plan should be formulated in such a way that it targets the prospects at every Sales-cycle. The prospects can be categorized under cold, warm and hot. The marketing tactics you employ to contact any of them have to suit their behavior.
Advertisements, PR and Direct marketing are best for reaching cold prospects. Prospects who’ve previously been introduced to your marketing messages are classified as warm prospects and will react ideally to emails, customer appreciation, and loyalty programs.
As for the hottest prospects, individuals who know all about your products/services and are just waiting to close a deal, phone and personal contact should be the best way to turn them into actual customers.
To really make the whole plan come together, add in a few complimentary tactics to your primary marketing strategies. For instance, you can use a combination of print media, online searches and billboard ads to reach the cold prospects, while emails to get in touch with your warm prospects.
Understanding the type of media tools your target audience uses to get information will ultimately determine the best marketing mix. At the end, the timing of your message is very crucial as well. Make sure you’re delivering it when the audience is most receptive.
STEP5: FIX THE MARKETING BUDGET
Finally, you’ll need to set aside a percentage of your estimated revenue to the marketing budget. For startups, this can mean using the recently procured funding, borrowing or even self-financed capital. This can be a challenging decision, but know that marketing is central to your business’ growth survival.
You’ll have to find out what sort of marketing mix best fits your budget and then accordingly move forward with it. If during the course of the marketing campaign, the costs seem to exceed the budget, you’ll simply have to go back and make adjustments to make it more harmonious.
Even though marketing doesn’t work for some businesses initially, there’s no way you can just forego it completely. If you think you can’t take care of your marketing alone, then it’s time to hire the services of a professional marketing agency.