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Fail to plan – What to consider in your marketing strategy

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Fail to plan – What to consider in your marketing strategy

It doesn’t matter what industry you work in but you would always appreciate the value of the words – Fail to plan, plan to fail.  No matter how experienced you might be, you can never successful make, build or do anything without a plan.   The same can be said for marketing.

When it comes to reaching your customer and engaging them in your brand, a nice office, beautifully designed business cards and even a great product or service is not enough.“If you build it, they will come” just doesn’t cut it anymore.

A marketing plan is like a stake in the ground.  It keeps the business manager grounded, offering them an opportunity to quantify and measure their success and take an umbrella view of their business ensuring they work on the business not in it (well at least for some of the time).  You can liken a business without a marketing plan to a football field without goal posts.

Time and cost is obviously a consideration in developing a marketing plan but as a business owner it is important to realize that this is an investment that opens the doors to an improved ability to manage budgets and cash flow and can direct you into activities which deliver a ROI.

A marketing plan would include information such as a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, competitor analysis, defining your USP (unique selling point) and key messages, development or evaluation of your tagline, your target market including potential customers, a review/evaluation of your visual identity and communications materials and a recommended communications strategy.

Tips and hints:

  • Understanding who your customer is and why they would buy from you over anyone else is your first consideration. Without this, you can’t possibly know who to talk to, how to talk to them and what to talk to them about so research, even undertaken by you, is essential.
  • A lot of marketing efforts fail because they’re carried out without a clear objective. The key thing to decide before you undertake a marketing plan is whether you are doing it to acquire customers or retain them. From this, all interaction with the customer is determined.
  • It is essential to articulate your key messages and these will be based on your goals. While this may sound simple, if these aren’t determined prior, you will be wasting your time and your customer won’t understand why they should be interested in using your services.  Promoting your business with the right messages that correctly represent your brand and your objectives is crucial to not only implementing marketing activities but making the most of them.
  • Don’t just map out a major advertising or sponsorship program and blow your entire budget on one activity.  Include a number of marketing activities in your plan and test the waters.  There is no such thing as ‘tried and true’ as each business is unique.
  • Third party endorsement is crucial and must be included in your communications.  You can spend a lot of time and money saying how great you are, but if someone else says it, it is far more valuable.
  • Start with a bang then have a planned and consistent approach which continues the momentum you have gained from launch activities.
  • Always implement PR/media relations activities first.  Journalists are only interested in news and it is no longer news if the advertising for your business is out there already.
  • Be prepared to review your activity and your plans regularly.  What worked that I need to do more of? What didn’t work that I need ditch or improve?

What do I need to consider in hiring an expert or doing it myself:

  • A builder has expertise in building.  A marketing consultant has expertise in marketing so it would be worth your while to consult a professional.
  • Hiring a consultant to develop a marketing plan will obviously come at a cost but if you hire a good consultant, they can develop strategies which can be implemented by the company, saving on further costs and ensuring that the direction you take is the right one to provide a solid ROI.  Additionally they will be able to provide a more objective view of your business and there is nothing more valuable than seeing your business from the other side.
  • If hiring a consultant is not something for you, then there are ways to educate yourself. There are countless articles online and marketing books on offer.  Don’t hesitate to talk to your friends and colleagues who are successful in running their businesses.
  • As a business owner you should consider if you have time to do your own marketing. Sometimes the marketing activities fail simply because no-one is dedicated to implementing them.
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