Do You Have A Marketing Plan?

Not having a marketing plan is like building a home without a blueprint, you may get the job done, but it will be completely by accident. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to rely on an accident. I want a sound plan so I know what steps to take and when.

So how do you create a marketing plan that will work? You take from those that are successful and see how they have done it. No matter what your niche there is someone that has been there and done the ground work for you.

A good marketing plan must start with connections and the best way to make connections is with social websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you don’t have an account with these three I suggest you get one fast. Set up your profile on each as completely as you can. This should be step one for anyone with an online business and where you should start.

Any marketing plan for an online business also needs backlinks to make your presents stronger. The easiest way to get backlinks is from forums. Be sure to select one that is clearly in your niche. Look to your favorite search engine for forums that fit, then monitor them for a while to get a feel for them. Once you feel comfortable with it start a thread or post comments to thread that are already there.

With any marketing plan there must be strategy for getting traffic, either free or paid. Free traffic comes from search engines and SEO practices are responsible for your success here. Paid can be anything from PPC or banner ads. Either method will get you targeted traffic if done right and advertising is something that has to be included.

Keeping to your plan is something you have to commit to from its inception. If it is sound it will work, but you have to give it time. Once you have started you need to stay consistent. It has to do with branding, which is mostly about name or product recognition and included in every marketing plan I’ve seen that was effective.

Since it is so important to your success it must be carefully constructed, including not only getting traffic, but converting traffic. This is where copywriting comes in to play. If you don’t know much about copywriting I suggest you learn or put hiring a good copywriter in your budget.

Every online marketing plan should include:

  • An easy-to-navigate website
  • Identify your target audience
  • Strategize to get traffic to that site
  • Any ideas to brand your name or product
  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses
  • A budget to pay for advertising and copywriting
  • Look at areas that need to be outsourced
  • Develop the basics of marketing
  • Determine how to combat your competition
  • Prioritize your basic steps

Each and every year you need to review and reassess it. Scrutinize each facet of it to see what worked well and what did not. The strategies that work well should be analyzed to see why it worked and how to make it better. Also look at any way this strategy can be utilized in other areas of your marketing efforts.

The marketing plan is the lifeblood of a business. Its success is determined by the research done at the onset of the planning process. Correct evaluations are a must for its success.

A marketing plan that works well is a beauty to behold for the business owner. Sales and high profits are the reward. Before you do anything you need to assess the feasibility of the product and the best way to do this is by creating it as best you can.

If the marketing plan elements seem to fall into place after your research is done you will know you have a winner. If however your elements don’t seem to look all that promising you will know that you need to rethink your product to change it and make it more conducive before going on with the project.

Once you have a marketing plan you will see just how important it is and why you need to carefully construct it. The real needs of the business are dependent on the marketing plan.

The e-Marketing Plan – Brief Overview and Working Scheme

I. Summary of a marketing plan

The marketing planning (concretized in the marketing plan) is an essential organizational activity, considering the hostile and complex competitive business environment. Our ability and skills to perform profitable sales are affected by hundreds of internal and external factors that interact in a difficult way to evaluate. A marketing manager must understand and build an image upon these variables and their interactions, and must take rational decisions.

Let us see what do we call a “marketing plan”? It is the result of the planning activity, a document that includes a review of the organization’s place in the market, an analysis of the STEP factors as well as a SWOT analysis. A complete plan would also formulate some presumptions on why we think the past marketing strategy was successful or not. The next phase shall present the objectives we set, together with the strategies to achieve these objectives. In a logical sequence, we will further need to evaluate the results and formulate alternative plans of action. A plan would consist in details of responsibilities, costs, sales prognosis and budgeting issues.

In the end, we should not forget to specify how the plan (or plans) will be controlled, by what means we will measure its results.

We will see how to build the marketing plan, what is its structure: after we will see how to build the traditional marketing plan, we will take a look at the e-marketing plan and see how the unique features of the internet will require some changes in the approach of writing a marketing plan.

But, before we continue, we must understand and accept that steps of the marketing plan are universal. It is a logical approach of the planning activity, no matter where we apply it. The differences you meet from a plan to another consist in the degree of formality accorded to each phase, depending on the size and nature of the organization involved. For example, a small and not diversified company would adopt less formal procedures, because the managers in these cases have more experience and functional knowledge than the subordinates, and they are able to achieve direct control upon most factors. On the other hand, in a company with diversified activity, it is less likely that top managers have functional information in a higher degree than the subordinate managers. Therefore, the planning process must be formulated to ensure a strict discipline for everyone involved in the decisional chain.

II. The general marketing plan

The classical marketing plan would follow the following scheme of 8 stages:

1. Declaring the mission: this is the planning stage when we establish the organizational orientations and intentions, thus providing a sense of direction. In most cases, this is a general presentation of the company’s intentions and almost has a philosophic character.

2. Establishing current objectives: it is essential for the organization to try to determine with preciseness the objectives to be reached. These objectives, in order to be viable, must be SMART. SMART is an acronym and stands for “Specific”, “Measurable”, “Attainable”, “Realistic” and “Timed”. The objectives must also convey the general organizational mission.

3. Gathering information: this stage is based on the concept of marketing audit. After performing the audit of the macro-environment by analyzing the STEP factors (social, technologic, economic and politic), we should turn the focus upon the immediate extern environment (the micro-environment) and analyze the competitive environment, the costs and the market. Finally, we will conclude with the SWOT analysis, by this way we will have a general view upon the internal environment compared to the external one. The SWOT analysis combine the two perspectives, from the inside and from the outside, because the Strengths and the Weaknesses are internal issues of an organization, while the Opportunities and Threads come from the outside.

4. Re-formulating objectives: after the close examination of data gathered in the previous stage, sometimes it is needed to re-formulate the initial objectives, in order to address all the issues that might have come up from the previous stage. The distance between the initial objective and the re-formulated objective will be covered by appropriate strategies. We must ensure the re-formulated objective is SMART as well.

5. Establishing strategies: several strategies are to be formulated, in order to cover the distance between what we want to achieve and what is possible to achieve, with the resources at our disposal. As we would usually have several options, we should analyze them and chose the one with more chances to achieve the marketing objectives.

6. Plan of actions: consists in a very detailed description of the procedures and means to implement the actions we want to take. For example, if the strategy implies a raise in advertising volume, the plan of actions should establish where the advertisements will be placed, the dates and frequency of the advertising campaigns, a set of procedures to evaluate their effectiveness. The actions we plan to take must be clearly formulated, measurable, and the results must be monitored and evaluated.

7. Implementation and control: consist in the series of activities that must be performed in order to run the marketing plan in accordance to the objectives set by the marketer. At this stage, it is critical to gain the support of all members if the organization, especially when the marketing plan is due to affect the organization from its grounds.

8. Performance measurement: constitutes the last but not the less important stage of the marketing plan, since we can achieve only what we can measure. In order to measure the performances achieved through the marketing plan, we need to constantly monitor each previous stage of the plan.

The marketing plan that has a feedback cycle, from 8th stage back to the 4th. That is because sometimes during the planning process, we might need to perform stages 4 to 8 several times before the final plan can be written.

III. The e-marketing plan

The e-marketing plan is built exactly on the same principles as the classical plan. There is no different approach, but there might be some formal differences given by the uniqueness of the internet environment. Many of these differences come from the necessity to ensure a high rate of responsiveness from the customers, since the e-world is moving faster and requires faster reaction from its companies, compared to the traditional offline marketplace.

Even though it is perfectly acceptable and is a common practice to use the 8-stage classic model for the e-marketing plan as well, you might want to consider the simplified version proposed by Chaffey, who identifies four major steps to build the e-marketing plan:

1. Strategic analysis: consists in continuous scanning of the macro- and micro-environment. The accent should fall on the consumers’ needs that change very rapidly in the online market, as well as on surveying the competitors’ actions and evaluating the opportunities offered by new technologies.

2. Defining strategic objectives: the organization must have a clear vision and establish if the media channels will complement the traditional ones, or will replace them. We must define specific objectives (don’t forget to check if they are SMART!) and we must also specify the contribution of the online activities to the organization’s turnover.

3. Formulating strategies – we do that by addressing the following essential issues:

– develop strategies towards the target markets;

– positioning and differentiating strategies;

– establish priorities of online activities;

– focus attention and efforts on CRM and financial control;

– formulate strategies for product development;

– develop business models with well-established strategies for new products or services, as well as pricing policies;

– necessity for some organizational restructuring;

– changes in the structure of communication channels.

4. Implementing strategies: includes careful execution of all necessary steps to achieve established objectives. It could refer re-launching of a website, promo campaigns for a new or rewritten site, monitoring website efficiency and many more.

Note: a common strategy to achieve e-marketing objectives is the communication strategy. The steps to built a coherent communication plan will be presented within a further article.

IV. The e-marketing plan (sample titles)

1. Executive Summary

a. overview upon present conjuncture;

b. key aspects of the strategic e-marketing plan.

2. Situational Analysis

a. characteristics of the e-market;

b. possible factors of success;

c. competitors’ analysis;

d. technological factors;

e. legal factors;

f. social factors;

g. possible problems and opportunities.

3. The e-Marketing Objectives

a. product profile;

b. target market;

c. sales objectives.

4. The e-Marketing Strategies

a. product strategies;

b. price strategies;

c. promotion strategies;

d. distribution strategies.

5. Technical Issues

a. website content;

b. website “searcheability”;

c. logging security (for customers and staff);

d. customer registration procedure;

e. multimedia;

f. autoresponders;

g. order forms and feedback forms;

h. access levels to online resources;

i. credit card transactions;

j. website hosting;

k. website publishing;

l. technical staff (size, requirements)

6. Appendix

7. Bibliography

Seven Questions That Every Business Owner Needs To Answer To Create A Truly Great Marketing Plan

Have you ever spent time and effort creating a Marketing Plan to then experience disappointment and frustration because it made zero difference in your business performance?

If so it’s probably because you fell into one or more of the following traps:

1. You may have followed a template that’s been designed for a large corporate entity instead of one that’s proven effective for a smaller business

2. Possibly you bought a Marketing Plan training course from a charlatan who knew that the course they were selling was useless but who continued to sell it regardless

3. Or perhaps you followed the advice of a well-meaning business coach or consultant (who probably didn’t actually own their own business) that relied on out-dated theories. And if that’s the case then you probably noticed that after several months and many thousands of dollars later you had no new clients to show for your time, effort and money

4. Or possibly you fell into the very common trap of starting with tactics and not paying deep attention to strategy first

If any of the above describes you then you need to know that it’s probably not your fault: there are simply too many confident-sounding, smooth-talking crooks and simpletons out there who are selling half-baked theories that don’t actually work.

And on the subject of putting strategy before tactics, the latter are the important details of a Marketing Plan and include the creation of testimonials, guarantees, websites, advertisements, email or direct mail campaigns and so on but whilst that’s all very important you’ll soon see that it’s a big mistake to start with tactics before you’ve got yourself an effective marketing strategy.

This article in an introduction to seven strategic questions you need to answer when putting together an effective Marketing Plan.

Strategic Question #1: What’s your PEG? PEG stands for Personal End Game and while it’s technically an objective and not a strategy as such, I include it here because it’s critically important as a source of motivation for when you hit the inevitable obstacles along the road to growing your business: “reasons are the fuel in the furnace of motivation”.

The PEG question is normally the easiest of the strategic questions to answer. All you need to do is identify two numbers and three things.

The two numbers are: how much income do you want each year and how many weeks off work do you want each year?

Then you add three things that you will use that money and time for – three burning motivators. These can include your family but don’t keep it completely pure! If big sea side houses and fast cars really spin your “whizzer” then add them to your list.

Strategic Question #2: What is your Ideal Client Profile and what is their Specific Unmet Need? You need to develop a simple description of your Ideal Client and what they want. And ideally the “what they want” part is a need that they can’t get met someplace else.

This is not rocket science so keep it simple!

Include any generally applicable characteristics such as gender, religion, location, age bracket, occupation, company size, income and also a little bit about their buying motivators. Anything that you think is relevant is fair game for your list.

For example here’s my Ideal Client Profile: English speaking business owners who are comfortable with the internet and who want a marketing plan that is designed specifically for small business and that’s actually proven effective to bring in new clients.

Another example from a client: Fast food restaurant owners in the Asia Pacific region who want to increase their sales and profits through smarter sales software analysis.

And another client: Mothers in Australia, New Zealand and North America who want delicious but healthy Greek style yoghurt for themselves and their families and are prepared to pay a slight premium for healthier and more nutritious food

Note: in the last example we’ve excluded women without children to feed and we’ve excluded men despite being fully aware that some of those two categories will buy the product. However we want to create a marketing message (see below) that reflects their Specific Unmet Need and we can’t do that if we try to appeal to everyone. The message that’s designed for everyone is a message the no one is interested in.

Have you noticed that I haven’t asked you yet about your product/service yet? That’s because your product/service features are irrelevant at this point.

It’s not until you figure out what your market place wants that you are in a position to know if your product/service can be effectively marketed.

That may sound like bad news but it’s probably not. There’s a fair chance that your product/service, with a few tweaks, is fine. But you can’t assume that. If your product/service features are not well matched to market place needs, then getting people to buy will be very hard work.

An effective Marketing Plan always, always, always answers questions regarding market place needs before addressing the issue of product.

Strategic Question #3: What’s your Bold Promise? Another way of asking this question is “what does my Ideal Client have to hear in order for them to want to buy my product/service?”

There are a number of elements that combine to create successful marketing results but let me be explicitly clear: the two most critical factors are who you put your offer in front of (Ideal Client Profile) and what you actually offer; your “value proposition” as I call it.

The best offer in front of the wrong person is dead in the water. For example if you were a teetotaller and I offered you a great deal on a case of fine wine, even if I discounted it by 90%, would you buy? Probably not. That’s a great offer in front of the wrong person.

So now let’s assume that we’ve got the right audience let’s look at some different ways of presenting the offer.

For example: as a business owner which of the follow value propositions would you find more motivating?

“We show you how to grow your business” Versus “Increase your sales and profits by 50% within six months – or you don’t pay”

The second one is the hands down winner because it’s a bold promise, it includes a specific numerical benefit and it adds a guarantee. That combination is one Kick-Butt formula so take note.

Here’s another set of contrasting offers to further illustrate the point

“Your Building Consent Experts” Versus “Your Building Permit Approved In 14 Days Or Less – Guaranteed”

Do NOT skip this. I know your brain may hurt but this is critical. If you can come up with a bold promise like the ones above then you’ll achieve better marketing results and you’ll get those results faster and easier.

Your Ideal Client is bombarded with literally hundreds of marketing messages every day. You need to do something dramatic to make your message stand out.

Strategic Question #4: Where do my Ideal Clients hang out? So far you’ve figured out what motivates you, who is your Ideal Client, what their Specific Unmet Need is and what they need to hear in order to want to make an inquiry or to buy.

Now you need to figure out what they watch, who they listen to, what they read, which meetings they go to, which clubs or associations they are members of, which other businesses have them in their network, which websites they visit and what they search for on Google when they are looking for your type of products or services.

The reason is obvious: once you know where your Ideal Clients hang out then you can direct your bold promise to them with direct offer.

And you don’t have to spend much money on this. I’ve built multi-million dollar businesses on what I call my “Godfather” offers (an offer that you can’t refuse).

I identify the owner of a database that contains a lot of my Ideal Clients. I prepare a great offer for their network and then I offer the owner as much as 100% commission on the sales.

Why would I give away 100% of the sale? Simple: I want people in my database who are buyers, not tire-kickers. And the purpose of a sale is to get a client (most people think it’s the other way around).

Once I have a client, I can then nurture the relationship until they are ready to buy again… and again… and again.

(Bear in mind that most of my product offers are in digital format so I can afford to give away a lot because value delivery costs are zero.)

Strategic Question #5: What’s your Black Jellybean? If there is a jar of jellybeans at a counter I’ll be the guy standing there picking out the black ones. There is no such thing as liking black jellybeans. You either love them or you hate them.

Similarly, you need to figure out that what you offer, your Ideal Client will love and create/adjust/refine a product/service accordingly. And in creating something that your Ideal Client will love, probably means that there’s a whole bunch of people who hate it.

For example: in my business I work with clients almost exclusively on-line. My clients love the fact that they don’t have to travel to meet with me, that they are one click away from being straight back to work and that they don’t have to have me in their offices or factories.

Naturally, there are others who would work with me if only I would visit them face to face, three dimensionally.

And so my on-line strategy is a Black Jellybean, in that people either love it or hate it.

Another example: the Quick Beauty House offers 10 minute haircuts for $20… for women! For every 8 women who hate that idea there are 2 who love it. And in a city of fifteen million people that 2 out of 10 adds up to a whole lot of women!

Strategic Question #6: What will your Funnel look like? Imagine a Funnel, wide at the top and becoming narrower as is goes downward. A Funnel represents a series of product/service offerings that are free at the top and then increases in price as you descend down the Funnel and its design is a critical part of any effective Marketing Plan.

a Funnel starts at the top with free stuff and as people descend down the funnel there are less of them but they are spending more with you.

Let’s assume that whatever “Core Offering Product” you currently have it good or even great.

All too often business owners are trying to sell that Core Offering Product without romancing, seducing and engaging prospects with great added value free stuff first.

I got married three years ago. The millisecond I first saw my wife I was in love. Gone, smitten, out for the count!

Imagine I simply walked up to her and invited her to marry me on the spot. Or worse still, how do you think it would have gone if I’d asked her to join me in bed? Of course that’s a ridiculous idea but how often have you put your Core Offering Product in front of an Inquiring prospect and popped the question “So, you want to buy it or not?” (or words to that effect).

You need to ask yourself what you can offer for free, that if a person grabbed at it, they would be qualifying themselves as a likely client.

For example: I offer a free Marketing Plan training course. It runs over 30 days and contains a complete step by step training system for putting together a truly effective Marketing Plan for a business owner.

I offer the training course for free because the prospect can get great value from me without having to risk anything more than a few hours.

I know that most people who get my free course will never pay me even a cent, ever.

I also know that enough of the people who do that course will descend down to the next level of my Funnel and (wisely) accept my two month free trial offer for my Killer Marketing Club which is a great example of the “Easy Entry Level” product from the chart above.

And enough of the people who join the Killer Marketing Club will go on to invest in something else and so on.

And so the Funnel represents a game of patience and romance. It also says to a potential new client “you may have been burnt before so let me prove to you that I’m different and that I can add great value to you before you trust me with your money”.

Other examples and ideas for Free Added Value option: free trial period, free sample, free demonstration, free class, free added-value newsletters or Ezines, free check-up, free in-store tasting.

Patience + Free = Millions

Never underestimate the power of free!

Strategic Question #7: Which Streams will you tap into? A Stream refers to a source of prospects. I’ve identified well over sixty different places that most businesses can get qualified leads from. These include the traditional sources such as media advertising (don’t start here, you’ll burn too much money!), referral systems, Search Engine Optimization, banner adverts, direct mail or email campaigns, Joint Ventures, Host Beneficiaries, Social Media Marketing, Adwords, events, word of mouth and many more.

Your Marketing Plan needs to start off by listing at least ten different lead generation sources that you will start work on initially.

You take the one place that you think it will be easiest, cheapest and fastest to get leads and you put a system in place for getting your message out to that place and you then measure the results and when necessary, you refine the offer until you have a proven marketing system that brings in a predictable stream of new clients.

And then you do the same for the next system and so on until you have layered ten proven marketing systems on top of each other.

At that point you’ll have a flow of new leads and new clients.

Conclusion: Creating a truly effective Marketing Plan that gives you a flow of high quality new clients, predictably and systematically, is both critically important to the health of your business as well as pivotal to your success in life financially and personally.

For free training on creating a marketing plan visit: www.8020Center.com/FreeMarketingPlan/