"Good plans shape good decisions. That's why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true." Lester R. Bittel
Recently, I offered a marketing plan review as a door prize for a local business group. When I approached the winner to exchange information, she whispered that she didn’t have a written one; she had it stored in her head. She then asked it a marketing plan was even necessary.
Absolutely! In fact, as a small business consultant, I've encountered numerous clients who repeatedly make the same mistake… failing to have a plan ‘business or marketing’ in place.
In a recent survey, I asked 200 respondents, ‘of the many issues facing their businesses, what common road blocks hindered their business growth.’ An overwhelming 32% said ‘No Marketing Plan’ was a potential reason for lack of sales and growth.
Well, a marketing plan is a road map that details a route you should take to successfully promote and expand your business. It is critical to the success of a business, in fact, to all businesses! If a small business wants to achieve its potential, a marketing plan must be implemented!
Marketing is more than just ordering business cards or creating a flyer, it’s how you communicate with your current and potential clients. It is important to get your name out in the business community and differentiate your products and services from that of your competitor. If you don’t market your products or services, how will people know that you are a serious business owner or worse, in business? With a marketing plan, you will have a game plan in place.
A marketing plan is an integral and valuable tool for determining success of your business and the overall direction that your product or service should be taking. It should:
Gather information about your target market to include competition, business and industry environment.
When researching, answer the following questions:
Potential customers who have issues that or problems which your products or services can fulfill. Generally, people in this segment possess common characteristics and a relatively high tendency to purchase a particular product or service. Included in a target market are demographic, geographic and psychographic characteristics.
A brief summary which includes the main points of the plan; generally shared with people you approach with your plan, such as investors or lenders who may want to read a synthesized version to determine if they are interested in it before taking the time to read it in depth.
The evaluation of operations to determine the reasons for the gap between what was or is expected, and what has happened or will happen.
A formal outline to identify and frame a company’s’ growth opportunities; SWOT is an acronym for an organization's internal Strengths and Weaknesses and external Opportunities and Threats.
A process that allows a company's to concentrate its limited resources on the greatest opportunities to increase sales and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.
Estimates tied to specific allocation of revenues. A budget is required to have a successful marketing plan.
In conclusion, as you can see, a marketing plan serves as your road map. It is critical for the success of your business. If writing a marketing plan seems a little intimidating, click here for FREE tools to help you.
Sylvia Browder is a small business consultant, trainer and author. She is founder of National Association Women on the Rise, a virtual community for aspiring and established women entrepreneurs. For the past 6 years, she has worked as Project Director of the Women's Business Center; and served as an online volunteer SCORE counselor since 2004. For FREE weekly articles go to Sylvia Browder's Blog for Women Entrepreneurs, http://www.sylviabrowder.com.