PART 1 – Getting a handle on the necessary-for-successs Marketing Plan
Every small business, or freelancer, who is responsible for generating income must consider the marketing side of their business – ie. how they will find customers.
A lot of people go into business from being employed, where they excelled in their profession, but they may not have been responsible for gaining new clients. So to suddenly be faced with the prospect of mapping this out and doing a “Marketing Plan”. It can feel a little scary.
This is especially true when, for example, you download your local business help centre’s Marketing Planning template and it is 29 pages long and filled with some scary sections. So to make it easier, here are some tips to get you started with your Marketing Plan.
A Marketing Plan can be as long as you want. It can be 50 pages or it can be 2 pages. There are really no rules here, so whatever suits your style and business – go for it.
Who Should Contribute
There is an old stigma that a bunch of guys in suits, sit around the boardroom table, and discuss marketing strategy and planning. Then once everything is decided, bits of the information get passed to everybody else in the company.
As a small business, I say, get everyone and anyone in the business to contribute, as much or as little as they want. As a freelancer, it’s just you, so there is no escape. But once you have employees it is so important they get a chance to participate and present feedback. And discussing marketing strategy doesn’t need to be scary. It can even be done over coffees.
Marketing of a businesses products and/ or services, doesn’t just come from management. It comes from every single person in the business or representing the business. So it’s important they understand how they fit in and how important their role is.
Done and dusted – or – work in progress?
The Marketing Plan is ALWAYS a draft. In today’s everchanging business world, nothing is ever in concrete, especially in small business. And once the first draft is completed, it needs to be kept in a handy location – electronically on the desktop, or physically pinned to a cork board on the wall.
The Marketing Plan needs to be read at least once a month, and needs to be continually modified when something works or doesn’t work. Monitoring the results of your small business marketing is so important, and it shouldn’t be in a separate section, but part of every section. Then updates of the Marketing Plan need to be communicated to everyone.
The Marketing Plan just doesn’t exist to fill a gap in the Business Plan. It exists to create a path to match your business strategy and meet your goals.
For example, most Marketing Strategy is based on increasing sales and working on competitive advantage. It may also take into account (and should) – customer satisfaction. Your strategy should form the basis of your plan, from which you can build on.
From the strategy, you create some marketing sub-goals. These are goals you want to achieve as the result of your marketing efforts. It’s probably best you have 2 or 3 goals, to keep things as specific as possible.
For example, you want to double your client base in 12 months, or you want to increase sales by 20%. These goals are measurable, realistic, and can be tracked.
Stay Tuned – Part 2: The Guts of your Plan