The need for a solid business plan is understood and known by pretty much every entrepreneur. What isn’t talked about enough is the need for a marketing plan. Your business plan outlines how your business will operate, and the marketing plan outlines how your business will win and retain paying customers. A good marketing plan lines out all the tools and tactics you’ll use to achieve your sales goals. Think about this as your plan of action: what you sell, who will buy, and the strategies to use will generate qualified leads to increase your close rate. 

Let’s take a closer look at a marketing plan that works: 

Step 1 would be to take a look at your company's current situation. This is called a “SWOT analysis.” SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. If you do a Google search for SWOT you’ll typically find a 4 quadrant drawing that has boxes that represent each of the items

In Step 2 you need to be able to describe your target demographic and marketing audience.
Create a simple, one-paragraph profile that describes your ideal prospect or audience. Use as much detail as possible. We have other videos where we go into detail, but you want to cover demographics like age, gender, salary range, physical location, family composition, lifestyle choices, etc.

Also, ask yourself these questions: Are my customers leaders or followers? Timid or aggressive? Introverted or extroverted? How often are they making purchases of my product or offering? Are they the end user of my product or service?

This also applies if you are in the business to business market, you’ll want to build a profile according to the type of businesses you want to acquire as a customer. Listing out things like business type, size, annual revenue, location, and so on…

No matter who your targets are, be sure to be as specific as possible when building out a profile. This will help optimize your marketing efforts and spending.

In Step 3 you should be able to describe your offerings creatively and tactfully. Describe how your product or service is superior to the competition or provides better value. If you can’t describe how it is better you are trying to compete on price. Just a quick note that it is widely known that competing on price is a race to the bottom. 

All of this analysis will allow you to accurately position yourself and your products in the market. Positioning is a video series in itself. 

In Step 4 you’ll list out your marketing goals. When creating a business plan, most businesses outline the measurement of tangible goals. This leverages sales numbers to quantify your dollars earned or spent to earn. The same should hold true when creating your marketing plan. You need to set goals, develop mechanisms of measurement, and then quantify your investment. This will help you know when your marketing is working and helps keep your marketing agency accountable. 

Step 5... Develop a winning strategy. Previously you identified your objective and profiled your prospects that will help you reach your target. Now you need to plan out exactly what strategies you will use to reach the intended prospects and achieve your goals. 

Keep in mind that you may have prospects at different stages of the sales cycle and that needs to be reflected in your marketing. Cold prospects will need to have a different message than warm or hot prospects. Be sure to plan your marketing efforts keeping the sales cycle in mind. This will be a key difference maker in progressing people through your pipeline. 

To complete the strategy section, outline your primary marketing strategies and include a variety of tactics you’ll use to reach prospects at any point in your sales cycle. For example, you may use Search Engine Marketing, Google Adwords, or Facebook Ads to reach cold prospects. 

Step 6 is the one most of you struggle with. In step 6 you need to set the budget. To set a budget it’s often suggested that you allocate a percentage of your projected gross sales to your annual marketing budget. I’ve covered how to set a marketing budget in a previous episode. We will make sure there is a link to that video in the description. Watch that video after this one. There is solid math, backed by the SBA, behind how much you should be spending every year on marketing. 

Well, that’s a wrap for this week! I want to thank you for checking in. Make sure to hit that like button. And if you have any questions or comments leave them down below. If you want to talk about how Blue Fish can help you grow your business just send us a message and we’ll get the conversation started!

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