a Marketing Plan
It can often seem that handling the everyday aspects of your business
takes all your time and then some. However, it can often be to your short-term
and long-term benefit to take some time to consider how your business
functions and where you want to take it. One of the key results of such
an examination can be the development of a marketing plan.
What is a marketing plan?
In large organizations, there may be staffs of people dedicated to creating
and updating the marketing plans for the organization. Needless to say,
most small businesses don't have that luxury or the need. Often, the marketing
plan is part of an overall strategic plan or it can be a separate document.
Developing a marketing plan for a small business can be comprised of only
a few activities. Think of it as a road map to help you get to where you
want to go.
- You examine where
your company fits in the market.
- You analyze how
your products or services compare to the competition.
- You identify areas
of weakness that can be fixed.
- You identify areas
of strength that can be leveraged.
- You choose what
marketing tactics you want to use.
- You develop a
plan of action to follow.
Know the market
Examine who the customers are and who they will be. Then understand the
needs of the customer. Also try to understand what the key reasons are
as to why a customer buys. Is it product, quality, price, service or something
else? Are there segments of the potential customer base that your product
or service is uniquely suited for?
Know the competition
What is it that makes your toughest competitor successful? Can you copy
their strengths to improve your company?
What are your weakest competitors' weakest points? How can you take advantage
of those weaknesses?
Know your own company
What are your strengths and weaknesses in the market?
How can you leverage your strengths and correct your weaknesses?
Are there products you need to develop?
Develop a plan
Often, just putting a plan on paper will force you to make decisions that
are easy to put off when you are busy. The act of creating the plan will
give you the discipline to make those decisions. Once the plan is completed,
you can use it as a guide for making the everyday decisions about marketing.
Decide on the tactics
How you position your company and present your messages to customers and
prospects is critical. The more concrete you can make the tactics, the
more likely you are to execute them. Try to have some short-term and long-term
tactics in your plan.
Review and revise
Your marketplace is dynamic. The changes that take place may cause you
to change, or fine-tune, your marketing activities. Besides watching changes
on an ongoing basis, it is usually advisable to do a somewhat formal review
of your marketing plan on a quarterly basis. Make sure your road map is
taking you where you want to go.
Execute, Execute, Execute
Most small business owners and managers don't have trouble making decisions.
It is the execution of the decisions where the difficulty lies.