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The EBiz Developer - March 2002 - Article Two

Your First Marketing Plan

Marketing worksheet for promoting your home business

Vic Carrara - www.OnlyforProfit.com

(This plan is best used if you print it out.)

Framework of a successful marketing plan.

What exactly is your business?

Where is your business now and where will it be in a year, five years?

Your competitors are your best friends.

Who are your clients.

How much can you afford to invest in your marketing.

 

Successful marketing has to have a solid basis - a marketing plan, the blueprint for action. However many of us are either so caught up in the day-to-day running of ‘the business’, or just plain scared of the term ‘marketing plan’, that it is ignored – much to our costs.

"People don’t plan to fail. They fail to plan."
Mark McCormack.

And planning to fail is just what you are doing without a plan.

Recent research shows that that companies operating to a marketing plan receive up to a 30% improvement to their sales – surely incentive enough.

Defining a plan may seem hard.

It may seem unnecessary.

After all ‘I know what I want to do…’ but by not clearly defining your business aims in a structured format you are more likely to become another ‘failed start-up’ statistic.

By understanding the road ahead, you can properly equip yourself for the journey and be better prepared for the obstacles ahead –

The Marketing Plan’.

A marketing plan does not need to be complex – after all, you need to be able to understand it. It should be clear, succinct and practical.

You should also remember that your plan is fluid and not rigid.

A change in circumstance, results that challenge your pre-conceived ideas should be able to be incorporated into your plan. Stay flexible.

 

The Framework

A successful marketing plan should define where you are now and help identify how you can achieve the outcome you want for your business.

It is the thinking part of selling by deciding what are your products and at what price to sell them. It is how you plan your position in the marketplace.

Within that basic structure it should define your market by identify your customers; competitors; outline a strategy for attracting and keeping customers; and identify and anticipate change.

Your business will not succeed just because you want it to succeed. It takes planning and an understanding of the marketplace to develop a strategy that will guarantee success.

A short amount of time on the internet will produce a myriad of marketing plan outlines…more confusion. Here is a framework which will get you off the starting block:

(please answer these questions before continuing)

 

    1. Identify where your business is now and where you would like it to be in a set time. Can you create a demand for your service or product?
    2.  

       

    3. Be specific. What turnover do you want, what profit, how many hours a week do you wish to work?

       

       

    4. Who are your competitors? Who are your prospective clients? Can you effectively complete in price, quality and delivery?
    5.  



    6. How much time and money can you afford to invest?

 

 

Now lets look at these in more depth.

Identifying what your business is…

Your ‘Elevator Speech’. You have 48 seconds to explain what you do.

(This is the essence of what you offer):

 

Still in the elevator, after your excellent 48 second presentation you are asked how you can possibly achieve the results you claim:

 

 

"But how does this effect me" (this person isn’t going to let you steamroll him!):

 

"So why isn’t everyone doing this?" (now don’t put him down here..):

 

 

"OK OK… I’m interested. What’s the next step?" (Close the sale – Are you prepared there and then to close the sale? What’s that killer line that you use to get your prospects details and a cheque in your hand…):

 

 

The elevator doors open, your prospect starts to leave, turns around and remembers an important question that he forgot to ask before… "What makes you the person to sort this out for me?":

 

You must be able to convince prospects that you have the best product or service for them at the best possible price (which isn’t necessarily the cheapest). Emphasize the special features that you feel are its unique aspects and selling points. These features are what you will use to convince customers to purchase your product or service.

If you cannot convince potential customers of this, then you are wasting yourtime and money. This is why a marketing plan is so important.

Public speaking comes out top of the ‘fright list’. As an important part of all business you might consider selling as a process of discovery. Selling is simply a dialogue to discover whether you can help your prospects attain their goals. If there is a match between what the prospective client needs and what you have to offer, you have discovered a client.

 

Identifying where your business is…

  1. Is your business self-sufficient? Are you working the hours you want, are you earning sufficient to meet your needs? Is your non-business life all that you want it to be?
  2.  

     

  3. How much time do you spend on your business a week:
  4.  

     

     

  5. How much does your business earn you a week:
  6.  

     

     

  7. What are your overheads (use of home office, stationery, advertising, car, accountant, etc):
  8.  

     

     

  9. Are you happy:
  10.  

     

     

  11. Describe the benefits of your goods or services from the perspective of your client.

(Emphasize its unique features--i.e. the usp [unique selling point]. Successful business owners know and have an understanding of what their customers want and expect from them. Forseeing this is extremely helpful in building customer satisfaction and loyalty.):

Answer the same questions for your business in:

One years time:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

 

Five years time:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

Why this exercise?

In order to help you make the right decisions, you will need to make sure that your marketing plan achieves your objectives.

No objectives – no plan.

If you are running your business with a view to the long term you should be doing long term planning.

It is almost inconceivable for a successful company (small and large) to be managed without a view on where the owner would like to take the company over the next few years. And more importantly, what impact the competition, technology or the general business environment will have on business in the forthcoming years.

Everyone should set a strategy specific to their long term goals.

 

You are not unique –other people are offering a similar service.

You are unique – no one else offers your kind of particular service.

Your competitors are your best friends.

Why? Because they will tell you what’s unique about your business and help you pinpoint how to make your service/product stand out.

The more specific you are about who your competitors are and who your prospective clients are, the better.

Competitors:

There should be no blank spaces. If you don’t know the answers, find out!

Who are you direct and indirect competitors:

 

 

 

What are the strengths and weaknesses of competitors:

 

 

 

How successful are your competitors doing:

 

 

 

What are the similarities and dissimilarities between your product or service and your competitors:

 

 

 

What makes your product or service uniquely different from that of your competitors:

 

 

 

Prospective clients

The answers to these questions helps you know better how to approach them, how to hit their ‘hot keys’, and how to find them.

Who are they? Individuals, companies, income, education, gender, age, profession/career, residence etc:

 

 

 

What values best describe your prospects? Their interests, philosophies, lifestyles etc:

 

 

 

Why do they need your services? What's not working in their lives/businesses? What is it that they want to do better?

 

 

 

Are you offering the kinds of goods or services that they want and at the best place, best time and best amounts?

 

 

 

How can you get into contact with these people? What do they read, where do they network, where do they relax?

 

 

 

Try to describe the benefits of your goods or services from your customer's perspective. Emphasize its special features--i.e., the selling points. Successful business owners know or at least have an idea of what their customers what or expect from them. This type of anticipation can be helpful in building customer satisfaction and loyalty.

How much time and money can you afford to invest?

For some reason, in times of recession many businesses cut their marketing budget.

So because money is tight lets cut down the number of prospective sales?

You should know how many clients you need to finance the lifestyle you want your business to support you in.

You should also track how many prospective clients become actual clients.

If for example it takes 10 prospects to produce one client, and one client is worth X1,000 a year after overheads, each prospect is worth £100.

How much would you spend to produce X100?

Keep detailed notes of where your prospects and clients are coming from.

A X100 advert may produce 35 enquiries and 1 sale.

A X25 advert may produce 2 enquiries and 1 sale.

Which is most effective.

Making detailed notes of all your advertising (including networking etc) will help you identify the most effective returns for your marketing investment.

 

Best of succcess,

Vic Carrara
The EBiz Developer

 

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