Small Business Marketing

The 5 steps of a successful marketing plan

In marketing school you learn that the fundamentals of any marketing plan are the 4Ps – Product, Price, Place and Promotion. And yes that is true, but to me its simpler than that. When business think about marketing plans generally they start with thinking about the ‘fun’stuff, and that start with the promotion plan– where am I going to advertise, what events am I going to attend, what social media campaigns am I going to run, what fabulous tools can I use in my business – the latest webinar or the app would be great for because of XYC.

Yes this is a vital part of the marketing plan, but its only one step – and it’s not the one you start with. So in order to write a marketing plan that works you need to take a step back and answer these five questions and that way you will have a marketing plan that work.

Step 1: Do you have a vision for your business?

Ultimately this is the where are we now? Where do we want to be and how to we get there?

You need to be clear on this because this is what gives you and keeps you focussed. Of course this can change and be reviewed year on year, but its so important to make sure that you have this vision written down because this is the document that means you don’t go off pursuing the next shiney object or idea. We can all be guilty of that afterall. Right?

Steps to creating your vision: Write these down now.

  1. What is your business?
  2. What products do you sell?
  3. Where do you want to be in 1,3 5 years time?
  4. Can your current products and services get you there?
  5. What else do you need to do to grow?

Or better still download the business visioning template we have created for you

And there right now you have worked through the basis of the vision that is going to keep you on plan

Step 2 Do you know your USP?

This is the so what question? It’s a fact that in most if not all business there are a tonne of other people offering the same service. BUT none of them are you – you are unique – whether you be unique on price, experience, service, speed etc you get the picture.

So what makes your product or service different from everyone else and how are you communicating this. You need to be able to describe the benefits your products and services will offer your customers (the SPECIFIC problems the product solves or SPECIFIC advantages it offers to the customer). How do you stand out and why should someone buy from you? What value are you offering to your customers?

Step 3 Do you know who your Ideal Customer is?

Now this is the fundamental question and so important. If you have not done so already you need to be able to describe in detail who your ideal client is. Often referred to as client persona or avatar you need to do an exercise that describes who your ideal clients are. You can have more than one of course but you need to able to answer questions such as demographics (where do they live, what age are they, are they male/female) where do they hang out, what do they read., what are their favourite brands, what do they do in their spare time.

Finally as part of this customer persona exercise you determine what problem they have that you are solving.

By detailing out your customer personas you know what makes them tick, and in turn you are able to then formulate your marketing message and positioning as to how your product or service helps them overcome.

Simple Marketing Plan steps
Simple Marketing Plan steps

Step 4: Craft your promotion plan

If you have completed the previous three steps, you can now set the promotion plan in motion. You know where you are headed, you know what products and services you are selling, and you know who are selling to.

Now comes the fun part (I think) now you are ready to actually write the promotion plan. How are you going to find these customers, how are you going to tell people about your product or service, what are you going to tell them ( your marketing message) and how much money have you got to spend on this promotion.

What this demonstrates is that your promotion plan needs to addresses customers at different stages of the buying cycle, since not all customers will all be at the same stage at the same time.

Step 5: Finally do you review your plan on an ongoing basis

Analysis and review should be central to your business and you need to constantly review your business and plan. I work in 90 days cycles and I review my plan on a constant basis. Its almost the most important part. You have done all the hard work upfront and now you need to keep measuring and ensuring that it is working ( or know if it is not)

Someone once said to me if you are going to fail, then fail fast. And that’s true, because if something in your plan is not working then you know pretty quickly and there is no shame in stopping, reviewing, changing direction, looking at something in a different way. Or if something is working well then do more of it. 90 day review cycles help you be really clear on your business and where it is going.

So there you have it – how to create a marketing plan that works.

If you want help with your marketing plan then sign up to our Marketing Club and work through these steps in a small group environment and finally get your marketing in order.

Don’t forget you can get the business vision template here.

Author Info

Caroline Sumners

Blogging about small business marketing, venues, events and social media!

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