Your Marketing Plan

If you “Google” the term “Marketing Plan” and read some of the links it would strike terror into most people. Page and pages of lists of all the things you are supposed to include and I read one feature that said it should take you several months to put one together!

Now I do have to admit back in my corporate days I would have nodded sagely and agreed with this, indeed the reference to a “Boston Matrix” did actually bring back fond memories! But thankfully we live in the real world of small business and the great thing about that is that we can just get on and get things done, so I like to think of a Marketing Plan as my Action Plan for the year, with the emphasis very much on the “doing.”

I will talk about specific marketing activities next time but today I simply wanted to pass on some of the knowledge I have gained in my 30+ years of working in sales & marketing (17 of them running my own business).

1.  You can have a brilliant product and provide the best service but if you don’t tell people about it you won’t have any customers. Marketing is a necessity not a luxury.

2.  Marketing has to be continual – a drip feed approach. If you stop (perhaps because you get busy dealing with customers) then further down the line your enquiries will dry up. So you need to have marketing activities going on all the time.

3.  Existing Customers – your most precious resource. Too many companies ignore their existing customers. Make sure you direct some of your marketing energies at communicating with your customers (past and present).

4.  Give people lots of different ways to find out about you. Remember people need to hear about you many times before they remember you and using different means of communication makes it easier for them to do so.

5.  You need to spend money. In the same way as you allocate expenditure for phone, stationery, accounting fees etc. set a budget aside for marketing for the year.

6.  Your marketing activities need to be a mix of general overview communication – so people become aware of what you do and targeted campaigns focusing on specific groups of potential customers with key messages.

7.  Never rely on just one communication channel as otherwise your message may not even be seen by some of your target market.

8.  Be consistent with your visual image.

9.  Your marketing messages need to be simple to understand and easy to remember. Top tip – if you ever have to re-read copy you have written to make sure it makes sense … then it doesn’t.

10.  Be professional – think about that immediate first impression which lasts a very long time.

11.  But not a perfectionist – otherwise you will never get anything done!

12.  Implementation – yes my favourite bit – if you fail to implement your plans they count for nothing.

13.  Finally, you need patience – marketing takes time to work, but the more you do and the longer you do it for, then the greater your success!

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