Start simple with your marketing plan

For many businesses, the thought of putting a marketing plan together is daunting, especially if you have changed what you are offering. Where do you start? What do you include? How do you know if it will work?

The key is to keep it as simple as possible, and then you can build on it if needs be. Too many businesses get caught up in complicated ideas and panic that they’re missing out on something, so try to do too many things to too many people.

A simple solution

When my daughter started college this year, she was given a piece of paper at the registration desk. It was essentially a map of each department she had to visit in order to complete the enrolment process. A simple grid had each department in a box and an arrow telling you where to go next. The staff were sitting at desks laid around the room, ready to receive people, explain what they needed to do and direct them to the next desk once they were finished. It was a very smooth process and reminded me of a game of snakes and ladders. If a department wasn’t relevant to you, you simply skipped it and moved onto the next.

How is this relevant to your marketing plan?

You need a destination, a start point, and a series of events or activities that will get you there. How about drawing up a simple grid, starting with where you are now in the first box. The last box will be where you want to get to. Fill in the middle boxes with how you’re going to get there.

The beauty of this is that it forces you to keep things simple, and it gets you started.

Then you can add specifics (in a separate document – it won’t fit in the grid!)

Where you are now might include how many customers you have, your annual turnover, the number of products you provide.

Where you want to get to will be an extension of that, and should include a time frame e.g. to increase turnover by X% within the next 12 months

This forms your objective and it should be specific with a time-frame you’re working to.

Now start to refine it

You might have different grids for different products, different target markets or different segments of your business.

For instance, you may have two or three very different types of customer. Define what it is about those customers that differentiate them. Do they read different magazines from each other? Do they use different media channels? Are they different demographics? These are your target market. If there are clear groups, set up a grid for each one.

How you’re going to get there might include trade press advertising, a social media campaign, networking, exhibitions etc. and these activities could vary for each separate target market. For instance, one of your customer groups might attend exhibitions, while another wouldn’t. One might use one social media platform, while another wouldn’t. Use the appropriate channel for each customer group.

Your messages may change too, according to your customer. For instance, some may be concerned about reliability and quality. Others may be more concerned about speed of response or availability. Identify for each group what their concerns typically tend to be.

All clear? Now you can begin!

As well as your planned activity, you will no doubt be approached by advertisers on an ad hoc basis. It makes it so much easier to make decisions when you are offered ‘a great deal’ on some press advertising, or are given an opportunity to sponsor an event or take a stand at an exhibition. If it fits into your objectives, you can give it consideration. But if not, it’s an easy decision to say no, saving you time and money.

If you need help, get in touch. Sometimes an outside perspective can make everything seem so much clearer. Drop me a line to set up an informal chat

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