Monday, February 18, 2013

Marketing Plan: First Steps

You understand your audience/customer (see 2/14 How do I start?). You have a good idea of what you want to say (see 2/15 What is your BIG message?).  Now with that basic information it's time to get down to the real work of developing an effective, workable plan.

The first real step in developing your marketing plan is finding a little time every day to work on it. It's not a one-weekend project. This is a good time to develop a habit of daily, concentrated attention to the most important part of your business – marketing. You can be the best in your field and it's wasted if no one knows.

So, because you have other things to do, you will need an efficient system for gathering, keeping and using marketing information. Right now is a great time to decide how you will control ALL the information you will want in order to make a brilliant plan. I recommend a three-ring binder. It's easy. You can keep it with you to work at odd moments. And you can organize and re-organize as your business and your priorities change.

If you are totally electronic, you can do the same thing on your tablet or desktop. Just think of what will end up being the easiest way to keep varied forms of media together. It will probably end up being a combination with some printed materials and some bookmarked items.

Right now, we're just creating the space for your research. You can start putting in anything you have already collected and we will talk about getting more information later.

Here are the tabs I would start with:

  1. Audience (Your analysis and other tidbits you pick up along the way)
  2. BIG Message (Your Value Proposition and Supporting Benefits as well as, thoughts and ideas you may want to incorporate on the next round)
  3. Stories (How you started the business, great customer experiences, employee stories – just a few notes to remind you of possible story lines)
  4. Competition (Direct competition's pricing, ads, their press, their website, FB, etc. and then broaden this to include some other ways your customers could do or get what you offer i.e. maid service instead of a new vacuum)
  5. Marketplace (Articles and notes about what is happening out there that might affect your product or service)
  6. Samples (Ads, websites, etc. that you like from any field ... that really get their message across) 
  7. Media (Trade magazines & websites, news media ... all the potential places you might get some publicity)
  8. Social Media (The info you need to be fabulous on LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter, etc.)
  9. Networking (Organizations and events where your customers, competition and possible strategic partners might meet ... plus, networking tips and ideas)
  10. Goals (Be specific. What would you like your marketing to do for your business over the next 6 months? Year? 5 Years?)
  11. Schedule (Calendars highlighting events that may be meaningful to your business, lead times for decisions about participation, production of various marketing components, etc.)
  12. Budget (Estimates, proposals, articles/notes about cheaper ways to get things done)
  13. Reference (A list of your bookmarks of general marketing ideas, articles that are too broad or don't fit perfectly in any of the other tabs, etc.)
  14. Measuring (How will you decide how you are doing? This will be somewhat different for everyone but it is critical that you keep track of what is working and what is not.)
This is all about making what can sometimes seem overwhelming a little more manageable. The good news is that once you start filling in these tabs you will realize that no one knows your customer better than you do. No one knows more about your offering than you do. YOU are the one who can build the framework for your great marketing plan.

NEXT: How to expand on what you know about your audience.

For a look at more of the n8 Marketing portfolio go to:

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