One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is to assume that people will simply buy what they want to sell. It would be so nice if we could all open up businesses, customers show up and buy all of our products. Reality check…that isn’t going to happen, at least not for most of us.
Your business plan – or business for that matter – won’t get a second look if you don’t have a strong, research-based marketing plan. You must create a marketing plan that proves you can connect with customers and convert them into buyers.
What makes a great marketing plan?
The key to creating a marketing plan is how you position your company, brand and product. How you position your brand and product with buyers in relation to their needs, and the advantages it offers over your competitors’ brand and products is critical to the success of your business.
How customers find about your product, how they find your product and how they perceive your product, all play a significant role in whether your product will sell or not. And that’s why you create a marketing plan.
Marketing and Sales – are they the same thing?
Often people confuse marketing and sales as being one in the same. Though when you create a marketing plan, you need to strategize both your marketing as well as your sales efforts, the two aren’t the same.
Marketing is about reaching out to your customers, connecting with them, knowing where to find them, and letting them know where to find you. Marketing is about opening.
Sales is about relating to your customers’ problem and creating a sense of urgent need in them, showing them that the benefits of buying your product outweigh the cost and inconvenience of living without it. Sales is about closing and following-up.
Marketing is the key to creating sales opportunities. Sales, in turn, gets the product in the customer’s hands.
Think about when you go to the supermarket. Often you’ll see a new product being promoted at a free sample stand, or discounted in the promotion flyer. It’s these kinds of marketing efforts that create awareness and stick in the minds of consumers interested in your product.
When you create a marketing plan, make sure you factor in both how you will market and sell your product.
Questions to Consider when you create a marketing plan
- What are the demographics of your target market?
- What magazines or newspapers do your potential customers read?
- What TV channels and shows do they watch? What times do they watch TV?
- What do they search for online? What websites do they visit or subscribe to?
- Where do they shop? How often? What do they buy? How much do they spend?
- Where do they live? What do they do in their free time?
All of the above are good questions to create a marketing plan designed around your target market. Of course, the questions you need to ask will largely depend on your product as well as your target markets.
Your goal is to ask the right questions and get the right answers. That allows you to tailor your marketing plan towards reaching more potential buyers, increasing market share, and ultimately, generating more sales.
So how do you create a marketing plan that grows market share and increases revenue?
As mentioned earlier, it all comes down to positioning. To position your business effectively, you need to address The Four Ps…
Let’s look at each one.
What is the product or service that you offer? Why would customers want to buy it? Your business plan and marketing plan must answer these questions. Remember that buyers are motivated to spend for various reasons.
Does your product or service…
- Add convenience?
- A new invention or product?
- Improve performance?
- Come in attractive or unique packaging?
- Appeal to status?
- Have an attractive design or appearance?
Here are some thoughts for you to consider…
The coffee shop industry had long been around before Starbucks Coffee came into the market. What did Starbucks do to make such an impact in this market, to the extent that when people think of coffee nowadays, they often think of Starbucks?
Starbucks isn’t cheap – it’s significantly higher priced than the traditional coffee shops. What kind of buyer does Starbucks appeal to?
Price plays an important role not only to your bottom line, but also to the image of your product or service. As mentioned earlier, Starbucks is priced higher than many other coffee shops. Yet, it’s able to attract and draw in customers and own a leading or significant share of many urban markets.
Are buyers always looking for lower prices? Not necessarily. Often, buyers will spend more for higher quality, or even for a specific brand they relate to.
It’s not unusual for a product or service to sell better at a higher price than a lower one, because of the perceived value often attached to higher priced products. This is very true of novelty products, and of course, products which portray the owner to have a certain status symbol.
I’m sure you’ve heard about the importance of location…location…location. When you create a marketing plan, present a thorough study of locations that give you the greatest possibility of success.
As you already know from personal experience, location often determines whether your business will succeed. How often have you seen a business close down because it just couldn’t get enough traffic through the door because it was in the wrong place?
Location is key. But even a good location is not enough – you need to consider what’s around. For example, you’re not likely to open a convenience store next to Walmart. Or, you would be wiser not to set up your burger and fries restaurant next to McDonalds.
On the other hand, imagine your deli being the only restaurant in a busy office building. You’re bound to gain a steady volume of traffic into your deli, assuming you’ve taken care of the other “Ps”
Bottom line – create a marketing plan that shows investors and lenders you’ve carefully selected a location that will bring a high volume of targeted traffic to your business.
create a marketing plan that demonstrates how customers will know about your business or product.
You’ll often find flyers, mailers, brochures and TV commercials advertising a new business in your neighborhood. You might get coupons in the mail from a new business, enticing you to give it a try.
Like many people, I normally get a haircut at my regular hair salon. But a few months ago, as I was driving into a plaza where I do my banking, I noticed a sign advertising a new hair salon offering haircuts for $2.99 for a limited time.
Since then, I’ve been for a haircut at the new salon twice. If it hadn’t been for that clearly visible sign promoting the new salon, I wouldn’t have known about it and would have gone to my usual hair stylist. What’s interesting is that now when I need a haircut, what comes to my mind is the new salon. Of course, the fact that it’s nearer to home also factors into my haircut spending pattern.
It’s important to track the performance of your promotions. Coupons are effective for measuring the success of a promotion. For example, you know how many coupons you’ve mailed out, and you can count how many customers have come in and redeemed a coupon.
Let’s say out of 10,000 mailed coupons, you had 500 coupons redeemed. That’s a 5% conversion rate. Not bad.
You may also notice a sheet of coupons you get in the mail often has different expiry dates. Some coupons expire this month, for example, while others expire next month. This is a very good strategy at getting customers to come in and spend money regularly at your business. Plus, it lets you track the effectiveness of your promotion over a longer period of time.
create a marketing plan that carefully analyzes and addresses the Four Marketing Ps and creates a bridge for potential customers to arrive to your business.