Have a Plan

by Ron Rosenberg

There are so many different tools you can use to successfully market your business that it can be difficult to know where to start and how to keep track of everything.

That's why you should take the time to put together a marketing plan to coordinate all of your activities and get the best possible results.

There are several steps you can follow to accomplish this.

Current Situation

The first step is to use various situational-analysis tools to get a clear understanding of where your business is now. There are several tools you can use including the following ones - you can look up the ones that sound like they will be most helpful for your particular situation.

  • SWOT Analysis - an analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats in a given marketplace
  • Forces and Drivers Analysis (PESTLE) - a formal analysis of an opportunity considering these six components:  Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal, and Environmental.
  • Value-Chain Mapping (ICOM) - a method of modeling the process flow through the value chain where each step is analyzed with respect to Inputs, Control/Performance Metrics, Outputs, and Mechanisms to perform the step.
  • Needs Based Segmentation - the process of clustering customers in a market into distinct segments, whose members share a similar set of needs that can be fulfilled by a distinct value proposition.
  • Demand, Innovation, and Growth (DIG) - a model for uncovering opportunities in three steps: the demand landscape, the opportunity space, and the strategic blueprint.
  • Needs-Solution Gap Analysis - a method for analyzing gaps between current and desired performance and identifying methods and metrics to close those gaps over a given timeframe.

Target Audience

One huge mistake people make when planning out their marketing strategy is taking a "one-size-fits-all" approach.  This is because the more you can make your message look like it's just for the person seeing it, the more likely they are to respond.

With this in mind, you must identify and develop specific target markets. Here are some areas you should consider in this process:

  • Size – Is the segment large enough to justify the expense of reaching out to them?
  • Differentiation – Is the target market unique and specific enough to warrant special attention?
  • Access – Is it possible to reach this market effectively and economically?
  • Value – Can you connect with this market in a way that delivers a strong ROI?

Goals & Objectives

As part of your plan, you need to clearly understand what your specific objectives are. There's a wide variety of goals you can target, and you may want to address only one of several of the following areas:

  • Reach New Markets
  • Introduce New Products
  • Maintain or Improve Market Share
  • Expand into New Geographic Areas
  • Exit Part of the Business

Strategies & Tactics

This is where you identify the specific actions you will employ to achieve your goals. A simple review of all the resources we have for you on this site will provide you with more ideas than you could realistically employ in a year, so the problem becomes more one of "which ones do I use" instead of "where do I even start."

To provide a simple starting point, you could consider some of the following:

  • Direct Mail
  • Email
  • Website Landing Pages
  • Referral Strategies
  • Webinars
  • Live Programs
  • Joint Ventures

Budget

Any plan needs to be grounded in reality, and one of the limiting factors can be the availability of funds. Whether you're a non-profit organization or a for-profit business, you need to have funds allocated to specific initiatives, and a clear definition of your expected return on investment for each one.

Track, Measure, and Manage

This is arguably the most important part of any marketing effort. Whenever I speak to groups at their industry conferences, I'll frequently ask the audience to share some of the marketing strategies they've been using. Then I'll ask them how it's going for them.

Invariably, one or two people will say things are great. A few others will give a "so-so" kind of response. The real tragedy is that the vast majority of people will have a "deer in the headlights" look on their faces indicating that they really have no idea about the results they're getting - or not getting!

And the reason for this last response is always the same: they're not tracking and they're not managing results.

If you're investing $1,000 in a particular marketing effort and getting $5,000 in returns, that's great! If you're investing $1,000 and getting $500 back, that's not so good.

But if you're investing $1,000 and don't know what you're getting in return, that's a tragedy - in fact, it's almost criminal.

You have to incorporate specific tracking tools into everything you do, and have a formal method to monitor the results you're getting. Only then can you fine-tune your marketing programs and improve your results.

As an example, we created two distinct registration pages for a recent webinar - one with a video introduction, and one that was mainly copy and images. The page with video outperformed the copy-based page 2.4 to 1.

Having this knowledge allowed us to funnel traffic to the higher-converting page and get more people on the webinar.

If You Fail to Plan...

As the old expression goes, if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. And this is particularly true in marketing where you're working to create the future for your business.

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November Interview

Richard Beswick

BMS Marketing Research

Strategic Marketing to Grow Your Business

As with almost everything, marketing exists on a continuum. On one hand there's operational marketing which is where we spend most of our time on. On the other hand, there is what we call strategic marketing and this is a bit different. In this interview, Richard Beswick, a consultant and university professor, will show you how you can identify new markets and opportunities. You'll discover:

You'll discover:

  • The difference between operational and strategic marketing
  • Different tools that can help you analyze opportunities
  • How to convert market opportunities to new business

Click here to find out how to use this article in your newsletter, magazine, or website.

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