Planning for marketing success

Have you ever had that moment when you sit and stare at a blank piece of paper, willing words on to the page? There are lots of small business owners who feel the same way when it comes to writing a marketing plan. Unfortunately marketing can often be considered to be the poor cousin of sales and doesn't really get the attention it needs to be a success. However, in most cases it is inadequate planning that defeats the marketing effort before it even gets off the ground.

The good news is that writing a marketing plan needn't be as painful as a trip to the dentist. With some simple guidelines to follow a good marketing plan can enhance your business and even provide a framework that your sales team can build on.

The key tip when building a plan is to make a commitment to the process. Take a Saturday morning if you have to do it out of work time, but send the kids to the park and turn off the television. This is your opportunity to think about your business and when you want to take it.

In general a good marketing plan can consist of these elements:

  • An analysis of your current market: Often marketers use a tool called a SWOT analysis, A SWOT is your personal assessment of your company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

  • Your business objectives: Use this opportunity to review your business plan. Have the assumptions you made and the goals you set come true? Is your businessstill heading in the right direction to achieve these objectives?
  • Key strategies: What are the key things that you need to do to achieve your goals? Start with the big picture - is it improving your prospect list, expand knowledge of your company, re-develop your brand? Establish those goals at a top line level and give each one a category. Use the internet to get some ideas, read business magazines and watch small business programs. Many successful ideas have been done before, but a simple tweak can sometimes tailor them specifically for your business needs.

  • Steps to achieving your objectives: Now that you have established your top line strategies and goals - what is the detail required to achieve them. For example, will a new website expand your sales opportunities? Who would build the site, would you Google ad-words to build traffic and more.

  • A proposed budget - how much will your ideas cost and can you afford them?

  • A time line - when will this be achieved by?

  • A measure of success - determine your goals and measure success or otherwise.

  • A method to check and refine along the way - set regular intervals to check against your plan to determine if it is or isn't working.

If you plan to grow your business whatever its size may be - the creation of a measurable and actionable marketing plan is a key component in seeing your ideas succeed.

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