Today we’re going to focus on Marketing, the essential ingredient to letting people know that you’re open and ready for business. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got the best product or service in the world, if no one knows that you exist, then you aren’t going to do much business. That’s where marketing comes in.
What is Marketing?
The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines Marketing as:
The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.
Basically Marketing is about understanding customers and providing them with products and services which meet their demands. Marketing should not be confused with selling.
When you’re starting out it’s important to show customers that you exist. From your Business Plan you will have already identified who your target market is, a Marketing Plan is about telling these potential customers that you are open for business.
A Marketing Plan is a list of all your intentions for getting clients and communicating with them. It will normally be split into separate but related activities which all have the common aim of promoting your business to your target market.
Many people think of a Marketing Plan as detailing all of your advertising plans. However, this is only one strand. Your Marketing plan should cover all aspects of your business. From your logo, to your website, to your packaging and your customer experience.
But it’s not just about pushing your products or services to customers and hoping that they will buy some product (as essentially traditional advertising has become). You may also want to create a buzz around your products or services so that other people talk about your products or services using social media, like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
For example, UK based betting exchange, Betfair, has recently signed a deal with the British Beach Volley Ball Team to put Quick Response (QR) codes on the back of thier bikini bottoms. Typing “GB Beach Volley Ball Team rent out backsides” into Google, at the time of writing, pulls up over 383,000 search results and the deal was announced only 3 days ago. The value of this publicity to Betfair is worth many times the costs of the advertising deal.
What buzz can you create around your business?
Simply asking people in your network for referrals could help you generate business. But be specific. For example, instead of asking anyone if they know anyone who needs insurance, ask them “if they know anyone in a two person professional family with young children”. Being specific makes it easier for them to identify and refer people who might need your products or services.
Another way of getting referrals is to pay people a commission for referring someone to you. Rather like online businesses do with their affiliate programmes. Paying someone a commission for every successful client they pass your way could be a great way to ensure you get targeted leads.
What do you know about your target market?
Your business plan will have identified your target market, for example hair dressers, IT Professionals, etc, but your Marketing Plan is all about connecting with the target market.
So make sure you know the answers to the questions such as:
Where does your target market hang out?
What are their interests?
What do they read?
The more you know about your target market the more effectively you can communicate with them.
How to Create a Marketing Plan
Most Marketing Plans cover a period of one year and are split between monthly activities, quarterly and annual activities. Although this is a living document and once created it should be reviewed regularly.
Your Marketing Plan should include:
Thorough analysis of your market
The Marketing message you are trying to convey
How you’re going to get the message across
The promotion strategy
The Marketing Plan should be closely linked to the aims and objectives of your business. You should seek to get everyone (or at least as many different areas as possible) from your business involved.
Once the plan is agreed, make sure that everyone knows what the plan is and what is involved, so that the marketing activities are understood and supported. For instance, if you were a food company, it would be pointless having a big pricing promotion just as the factory has closed down for its annual deep clean. So make sure that areas affected by activities within the plan agree to the implications and timings.
Marketing Plan versus Business Plan
A business plan explains what the business does and how it does it. It explains what the business does and what it doesn’t do. To some extent it’s the constitution of your business. Therefore, a Marketing Plan needs to support the vision contained within the business plan. For example if your vision is to make high end luxury cars, the Marketing Plan shouldn’t focus on the pricing or discount, but on the luxury of the car itself.
A Marketing Plan needs to be consistent with a business plan.