Most successful businesses take the time to develop a written marketing plan. Here are 10 quick steps for building a plan that’s right for your business, your goals and your marketplace.
Define what you want to accomplish over the next 12 months in very specific terms. For example, you might want to move into a particular niche market, increase business coming in through your web site, or establish yourself as an expert on a particular area.
Look back at the past 12 months and see what kinds of clients and customers you did and didn’t reach well. Of those you did reach, are they the type of clients you want to continue to attract? Where can you find more of your “ideal” clients (e.g., are they clustered in a particular type of neighborhood or business sector)?
3. Value proposition
Once you’ve clearly defined your ideal clients, define the right value proposition for them. A value proposition is something you offer that these particular clients value, and that your competitors don’t offer. If you target different audiences, you’ll need to define different value propositions. The type of messages you need to send will guide the type of marketing tactics and media you’ll choose.
Now, look around your community, business and personal networks for opportunities that match the goals, audiences and value propositions.
5. Customer relationship
You need to market to your existing customers, too. Being in touch with clients throughout the year keeps business robust. Map out ways to connect with clients at least four times a year. It doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive. You can mail birthday cards, call, send e-mail alerts of industry changes, share articles, publish an e-newsletter, send a survey.
Look at your audiences and opportunities to identify the types of marketing that make the most sense for you. This can be anything from ads, articles, blogs, speaking engagements, networking, holding a seminar, SEO-ing your web site or partnering with other professionals.
To see what your marketing program will cost, put numbers to each tactic you’ve identified. If that’s more than you can spend, look for ways to get double-duty tactics like one e-newsletter for clients and prospects. Instead of stretching your budget to do a little of everything, focus on fewer tactics so you can do them right.
Nail down exactly when you’re going to do which tactics. This shows not only when your tactics “go live,” but helps you plan for the preparation time, too.
How will you know your marketing is working? Define specific measures beyond just getting more clients immediately. Also look at other indications of awareness (e.g., web traffic, referrals, e-newsletter open rates, etc.).
How will you get everything done? If there’s a chance you won’t get to certain marketing jobs, consider outsourcing them. You may also want to look at having technology play a larger role. Some small firms are finding that Infusion Soft (www.infusionsoft.com) is a big help in following leads.
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