It always amazes me how many start up companies and entrepreneurs operate without a marketing plan. You wouldn’t head out to a destination without at least which direction you are heading or more to the point, input the address on a GPS so you can get there in the most timely way. The purpose of a marketing plan is to articulate where you need to be and define the measurement of success for your business. It provides you with the forum to focus on your business, on your competition, on the current market trends. In short, it makes you do the homework you need to do to get a clear and concise understanding of all the roads and road blocks that will lead to your business’ success…. before you start your engine and put your car into drive.
No matter what size, or type, or whether you are offering a product or a service this “road map” will prove to be invaluable when decisions need to be made. You have a great product or service and you are anxious for everyone to know about it and you want to just get out there and start selling. STOP. Do you have a plan? Do you know when you get there? It always amazes me how many start up companies and entrepreneurs operate without a marketing plan.
In the not so recent past many businesses, start ups, retailers and b2b companies felt that any marketing initiatives were well beyond their reach. To have any impact on their audience, a lot of dollars were needed. Enter Social Media, and businesses everywhere are getting into the “marketing” of their businesses. Which is absolutely wonderful! In today’s business landscape, businesses are all embarking on the Social Media… some with little or no understanding of the true time cost of doing it properly. But I digress,that’s another blog for another time.
Jumping on the band wagon without a clear definition of your value proposition and your unique selling point is dangerous. Equally dangerous is not defining your businesses brand voice, brand tone and brand personality. This is where a marketing plan comes in. The purpose of a marketing plan is to map out the direction of where you need to be… and define the measurement of success for your business… it is essentially this “destination point” which will prove to be invaluable when decisions need to be made.
In this “road map” you need to determine your strategy, identify your priorities and then build out your tactics from there. Start by identifying who your target market is. Define as much as you can: age, sex, profession or career, income level, level of educational attainment and geographic location…. and go farther. Define your target markets likes and dislikes, habits, hobbies. This is the age of niche marketing!
Clearly define your business and set reasonable quantifiable objectives. It’s important to be honest. Don’t set yourself up for failure…be aware of the potential hazards before you start…and when detours happen along the way, your marketing plan will provide you with a solid base to switch gears and turn to an alternative road to get you where you are going… to success!