6 Steps to a Marketing Plan that Works

marketing planWhen you have a product or service that you know is great, it is tempting to think that all you have to do is tell people about it and they will buy.  A marketing plan is not simply a matter of handing out business cards, placing some ads, or sharing information on social media.

People usually don’t have a “buying plan” unless it’s for something big, like a house or a car. They make decisions to purchase based on an immediate need or want. Because people often buy on impulse, it’s important that when the time comes, your business name pops into their head.

While a marketing plan isn’t brain surgery, it’s worth taking a little time to think about your market and write it all down. Call it a blueprint for action that will bring you better results. Here are six steps to get your marketing rolling in the right direction.

1.    Who is Buying What You’re Selling?  Identify the person who is most likely to want or need your product or service.  Be as specific as possible.  What is their age group, income, gender? Yes, others outside of your target market may be interested, but you want to direct your efforts to the greatest number of actual potential buyers. There is a reason you don’t see many ads for jock straps in women’s magazines.

2.    What Makes Your Target Market Want to Buy? There is always something that causes the buyer to pull out the plastic. In my business, it is usually the realization that they are spending too much time doing back office work and not enough time growing their business or spending time with family. What set of circumstances has to happen for someone to feel they want or need what you are selling? Knowing this will help you design appealing promotions, ads, brochures, website copy, and social media posts.  Remember “Got Milk?” and “Can You Hear Me Now?” These are Step 2 in action.

3.    Consider the Buyer’s Friends and Family. Buyers do not live in a vacuum. They have friends and family who affect their buying decision in some way. Whether a purchase is a gift, clothing that will impress their peers, or signing up with a coach to improve themselves, and thus their career and family income, buyers have a reason to buy that exists outside themselves. Point out these benefits in your marketing materials.

4.    How Will You Provide Information About Your Product or Service? Obviously, getting your message out through social media is a given these days, but what other ways will you reach your target market? If you have a local market, submit an informative article about your business to your local newspaper. It will help elevate you to expert status so you can become the “go to” place for your product or service. When it comes to advertising, studies show it takes someone seeing an ad at least seven times before the information registers in his or her brain (the age-old “Rule of 7.”). When that happens, they will notice it more, and think of you when the need arises. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. How would you go about finding you?

5.    Determine the Buying Timeline.  The answer to “When will someone buy?” depends on the type of product or service you have, and your marketing plan must consider this. If you have a sandwich shop, local advertising that includes your shop hours is the logical choice. If your sandwiches are good, you will have repeat customers and word of mouth will bring more people in. If you are a business consultant, it could take months of consistent networking, article writing and social media communication to cultivate the awareness and trust you need to get clients. Knowing the buying timeline helps you estimate not only the cost of advertising, but also the hours you must spend cultivating clients.

6.    Determine Your Marketing Budget. Many new businesses operate on a shoestring. Social media marketing is great because it costs next to nothing. Still, it is important to allocate some portion of your operating budget for marketing. Business cards, brochures, websites and other collateral materials are not free, even if you do them yourself. If you have followed the first five steps, you will have a good idea of the kind of marketing you must do. With a little research, you can come up with an estimated cost.

Once your plan is in place, follow it for a few months and note the results. Remember that nothing is chiseled in stone. As you gain more knowledge of your market, adjust your marketing plan accordingly.

I wish you all the best in your marketing efforts!

Until later …

Toni

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