I’m always surprised by the people that fail to work with a business or marketing plan. The idea seems to be intimidating to many otherwise fearless entrepreneurs. The plan doesn’t have to be a long drawn-out process to be effective. You can take a few minutes and sketch out something quickly that helps you to formalize your goals, establish a budget and evaluate your expected returns on investment.
It will also serve as a roadmap to help you maintain consistent sales throughout the year. Savvy marketers often develop the entire project around a sales and marketing proposal in order to bring in joint venture partners.
There are many ways to develop a marketing plan. The approach taken here is a simple six step process. If you are really creative you can accomplish all six steps on the back of a napkin.
- State your purpose – Dr. Stephen R. Covey is famous for coining the phrase; “Begin with the and in mind.” This simply means to have an idea of what your results should look like before you begin your journey.
- Quantify the result – if you are selling glass figurines online, you should know how many units you’ll need to sell in order to make the kind of income that will make the project worthwhile. You must identify what success looks like even before you begin.
- Situational Analysis – this simply means you are acknowledging where you are in the process at the moment. You will also want to look back in the past to evaluate the decisions and actions that lead you to the present situation.
- Marketing Focus – take a close look at consumers to whom you wish to sell your services or products. Get a clear understanding of your ideal prospect; get to know and relate to the problems they face and recognize how your solutions can benefit them.
- Tactical – now we brainstorm to find the various methods to get our message to its intended target. Don’t be afraid to get wild, crazy and creative during brainstorming. There are often a few really good ideas hidden among the off-the-wall stuff. Write them all down and review them later.
- Budgets Analysis and Performance Milestones – I saved the bean counting for last because it is usually the part that entrepreneurs don’t like to do. Once you have roughed out your marketing plan of attack, you will want to create a budget for which to work your plan. You will also need to set realistic milestones to monitor your progress along the way.
In the end, a marketing plan is just a road map for your objectives. You can create a formal marketing plan with spreadsheets, graphs and even PowerPoint presentations. You might simply look at your worn out napkin one or twice a year. Whichever technique you choose will be perfect as long as you get it done. When it comes to marketing your business, you need to know where you’re going so that you know when you’ve arrived.