Why You Need a Marketing Plan for Your Business

marketing-planWhen navigating the journey of starting a business (or starting to actually focus on growing it), it’s important to have a plan. A marketing plan is actually different from a business plan, but it is a vital piece to your business. It is the strategy by which you’ll get the word out about your business to your audience. If you have a great business, but nobody knows about it, what’s the point of having that GREAT business? It doesn’t need to be some intricately detailed book, but it is important that the plan exists and makes sense for your audience. Having a plan can mean the difference between planning for success instead of hoping for success.

When creating a marketing plan for your business, you will need to do the following:

Market Research – It’s imperative that you learn about the market in which your business exists. You need to know about all aspects of the business, the competition, and your audience.

Determine Competition – Who your competition is, is just as important as what types of products or services they promote. It’s obviously not going to be exactly like yours, so learning all you can about your competition helps you differentiate yourself and your products from theirs.

Plan Marketing Strategies – One of the most important parts of the marketing plan is choosing the strategies that you will use to get the word out about your business. Will you use a website, blogs, content marketing, brochures, online ads, offline ads, or something else entirely? What type of results do you believe you’ll get for each of these, and do they fit your audience?

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Create a Budget – When you learn more about your market and what it takes to get a customer, you can make a budget that is realistic to help you get more customers and make more money.

Set Goals – Without knowing a lot of information about your demographic, product, service, and budget, it can be hard to set goals. But while creating the marketing plan, you’ll start to develop some preliminary goals that will become instrumental to your business.

Evaluate the Plan and the Results it Yields – A marketing plan is not a one-and-done thing. Healthy marketing plans are living documents that are continuously changing and responding to the factors that influence them. Constant evaluation and re-evaluation is vital to the continuous growth and improvement of your business. Doing a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) of your business is one way to accomplish that.

Following these guidelines as you develop a marketing plan will help you to make smart decisions about your business. Every decision you make can greatly influence the health of your business. Having a marketing plan can help you make decisions that can mean the difference between saving and costing you money. Having a marketing plan to get the word out about your business, and get it to the right audience, will lead to the business you dreamed of having. It allows you to plan for success instead of just hope for it.

You have a marketing plan, right?

The year is almost over, and often it causes us to pause and reflect on our performance in the past year – Was it a banner year for you and your business? Was it just okay? Do you wish to never see 2014 again? Whatever the case, it doesn’t have to repeat itself in 2015. If you are unhappy with the results of the previous year, it doesn’t have to be the same old results from the same old actions for the new year.  In fact, it should be the very opposite of that. As Winston Churchill said, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”  If you haven’t set up a plan for success in 2015, how will you ever achieve it?  Don’t leave it to luck…Instead, now – yes today – is the perfect day to do it!

When it comes to marketing, the reason people shy away is usually because they misunderstand what it is, and they often underestimate its importance.  They have been led down the wrong path for way too long. To understand what marketing is, we have to first start with what marketing is not. Marketing is not a wish list or a set of objectives. It’s not a list of goals or a mission statement. A marketing plan is a clear explanation of how you are going to get where you want to go. It’s really as simple as that. Yes, a lot of those previously mentioned factors come into play after you have the marketing plan in place, but those factors are just factors, not the plan itself.

Your marketing plan should be unique to your business, and as such, it should stand apart from other plans.  In order to figure out your own unique marketing plan, you have to ask some key questions to drive your strategy.  Here are a few of those questions you need to ask when developing your marketing plan:

Who should me business appeal to?

This is the primary element – the who. You have to develop your plan around a narrowly-defined ideal client first and foremost.

How can I be different?

In this case, being different is not only good, but it is preferred. You have to find ways to differentiate yourself from the rest of your marketplace.  If you don’t, people will default to comparing you on price alone.

Are you connecting the dots?

The final step in creating a marketing plan takes what you have already created from the first two questions (how you are different and who your business appeals to), and turn it into a stated action plan.

Let me come back to Winston Churchill’s statement once again, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”  Hoping the right type of people come knocking on your door for your service or product is just that – failing to plan. You need to take the time to create a plan that will not only help you succeed, but help your business thrive in 2015.

If you need help setting up your marketing plan please contact us.  We will help you with resources and coaching you need to make your plan a reality.