One of the most essential parts of a business plan is your marketing plan. The importance of aligning your company’s mission statement with the sales and marketing of its product and/or services can never be underestimated. Having said this, getting your product or services out there can be difficult, especially for business owners who have difficulty marketing themselves. Going back to basics, might sound a bit like a no-brainer, but realistically it’s a good place to start. After all, if you don’t fully know, understand and regularly re-evaluate what you’re marketing how exactly are you going to successfully promote to potential buyers?
Here’s a good place to start -
Critical analysis of your product or service
- What are its strengths and weaknesses
- What opportunities exist in the market place
- What poses a threat – your competition and what they are doing
- Have you got availability, distribution and pricing right?
Identify your target market/audience
In all probability only a percentage of the population are going to want what you have to offer.
Identifying that segment – that correct niche market – is critical. So many businesses fail to identify who they should be talking to and if you don’t know who to talk to you certainly won’t be able to ascertain how to reach them.
Getting the word out
Once you know what it is you are advertising, how it benefits the customer, whether it is correctly priced and readily available you can choose the advertising mediums best suited to creating awareness among your target audience.
The mediums available are many and varied and need to be weighed against the budget you have allocated to marketing your produce/service. In the main they include:-
- Newspapers, consumer and trade magazines
- Outdoor – billboards, hoardings, bus shelters, etc.
Audio & Audio Visual Media
- Radio o Television
- The Internet
- Online Banners
- White and Yellow Pages
- On Line e.g. Google Places, Yelp and Yahoo
Publicity and Public Relations
You Tube, Facebook and Twitter aside, one has to confess that the ton of different social media channels out there is huge. Rule of thumb is – do whatever it takes to engage your customer – tweet, follow, make friends and share.
Controlling your spend
Marketing can be hugely costly and it is important to carefully consider allocation of you rands before signing on the dotted line. For example throwing all your media spend into one medium is far more risky than adopting a marketing plan that offers a healthy mix of different forms of marketing based, of course, on your objectives and the budget.
Keeping an eye on competitors’ activities is another sensible move. Your vigilance will help you to monitor their advertising strategy and spend and the affect it may have on your product or service and better equip you to act thereon.
And lastly, think creatively when it comes to stretching your budget:-
- Introduce yourself to the media. Free publicity in the form of press releases has the potential to boost your business
- Get associates or vendors to participate with you in co-op advertising
- Introduce buying incentives and referral bonuses for your existing customers
- Get feet into your store by piggybacking onto an event eg. sell tickets for a local walkathon
Marketing your brand – an ongoing activity
The long term success of your brand depends largely on the image you adopt and maintain for your company and your product and/or service.
Make sure that you present consistently in terms of your logo and the look and feel you have developed whether it be signage, advertisements or your website.
Each advertising touch point reflects who you are – get it right, every time!