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Why Your Small Business Needs a Professional Marketing Plan

Many small business owners know that they need to promote their businesses – in other words, they know they need to be doing marketing activities of some sort. Yet choosing the right mix of activities seems like an impossible task. Should they focus on building a new website? Running ads in the local newspaper? Sending out direct mail or email, or perhaps posting to social media?

Even if a business owner chooses a few activities to try, often they’re not sure when or how often to run those ads, send out the emails, or mail postcards. Understanding small business marketing and developing an action plan often feels overwhelming for a small business owner. Combine that overwhelm with time pressures and the limited budget of a typical small business and you suddenly understand why few actually have a written marketing plan in place.

What’s so important about having a written marketing plan in place? Why can’t you just sit down with your staff and come up with a few ideas, then go out and use them to promote your business?

You can certainly sit around the table and brainstorm ideas, but without a written plan, how many of those ideas will actually be carried through to completion? And if you do have several ideas you need to choose among for your activities, how do you sort and weigh them to understand which promotional idea can potentially yield the best return on investment? Who is going to actually create the promotion, make sure it is placed or mailed on time, and then follow up to count the responses to see whether or not it was worth it?

As you can see, there’s a lot to know and remember when you’re planning your small business marketing. That’s where a marketing plan and a professional marketing consultant can help.

A marketing plan created by a professional marketing consultant who knows and understands the unique challenges that your small business faces may focus on several key areas. These areas may include goal setting for your business, understanding the business and competitive environment, defining the products you’re selling and the messages to share about them, and then creating a marketing strategy and action plan (tactical plan or marketing mix) to direct your activities in a focused and measurable way.

I’ve seen some great marketing plans that were detailed and creative, but they sat on a shelf and gathered dust. Why? Because they weren’t focused on action! A marketing plan without an action plan and clearly defined tactical steps is like a scientific research report; rich with information but offering little practical value. Small businesses don’t need a research report – they need a focused, clear action plan.

There’s a balance between the background information that informs the action steps a small business should take and a tactical-only plan that focuses solely on the promotional methods. As a business owner, you have to know and understand the marketplace forces, your customers, what you’re selling and the advantages you have before you roll out any promotional campaigns. Yet most business owners focus solely on the promotional aspect because it makes them feel like they’re finally taking action and getting some marketing steps accomplished. Action without strategy, planning and forethought, however, can lead to missed opportunities and wasteful spending as you put money into marketing activities that may not reach your customers nor communicate the messages that will resonate with them. And marketing activities without some sort of assessment or tracking can lead to wasteful spending. If you don’t know how many new customers you have reached or how many sales you achieved from your promotion, how do you know it was worthwhile?

Before spending more money on your current marketing activities, take a moment and consider what it would take to have a professional create a marketing plan for your business. With a professional marketing plan in place and someone to coach you through the activity steps, you may have a better chance at achieving your goals, attracting new customers, and selling more. And in the end, isn’t that the result you want from your marketing programs?

How to Create an Effective Marketing Plan

Marketing is the soul of your business, it means anything you do for the promotion of your business comes under marketing. However, without a plan or strategy your marketing campaign will not deliver the desired results. Therefore, creating marketing plan for any business is vital.

Now the question arise; how to create an effective marketing plan for a company? We all know the format of a marketing plan. Whether you make a formal or informal proposal, a plan should be such which touches all the essential points to deliver the targeted goal.

To make an effective plan, there is a famous rule called 4P’s. Here, P’s stand for Price, Product, Promotion and Placement. In this another P is added called People. Today while doing digital marketing or the traditional marketing one should understand people or the customers you are dealing with. It’s important to figure out what is significant for the business, and later make a plan accordingly.

Generally, in a marketing plan the following points are considered -

  • Market Analysis: First analysis your broader market, where are the opportunities that you can look for? What are the scopes in the current market? After analyzing the broader scope of the market; target on the niche values.
  • Identify the Target Customers: Unlike the broader analysis of the market; here you aim on the targeted customers. You look for the scopes where you can promote or market your product to get the higher returns and acceptance. Here from targeted customers to clients, you also find out the needs and demands of the audience. Once you know, who all are your customers and what exactly they are looking for then you can jump to next step.
  • Marketing Plan: In this you perform, precise activities which helps in achieving the goals and objectives you are targeting at. Here, you plan how you will promote the product/service? What are the specific areas of promotion? What would be the budget of this plan execution? Etc. Plus, you also estimate the ROI of this marketing strategy.
  • Competitive Edge: It’s important to define your competitors too. One should know, what strategies are being used by the competitors to reach to the potential customers. If you know what your competitors are doing, you will be able to modify the plan and maybe your marketing analyst will come with something more innovative that can capture the mass attention.
  • Sales and Strategy Forecast: If you have a target to achieve you can plan out your work according. It’s just like keep the figures real and amenable. Unrealistic figures would not help you ever to get the target on time. Secondly with these forecast, you can compare your marketing strategies and come up with the best solutions for future activities.

These above tips are vital or the stepping stones for any business, but in reality, companies need to incorporate multiple web channels for their business marketing plans. Below are popular web channels that business uses for their planning and strategies:

  • Social Media Marketing: One of the most promising way of marketing in today’s date. From LinkedIn to Facebook and from Twitter to Google+, companies use these platforms to target the right set of customers. From a survey by social media – 93% of marketers use social media for business.
  • Mobile Marketing: Another most prompting way of marketing which is used in today’s digital world. The acceptance of smartphones and tablets has helped to change the way companies used to target their customers earlier; these days they implement strategies that reach customers on their devices itself. From a survey via Our Mobile Planet, 89% of smartphone users notice mobile ads.
  • Email Marketing: The marketing plan via email is quite an old one. It is an effective and popular way of promotion for many small business owners. Get the email data of your possible customers and send them your customize business emails to let them know what you are offering.
  • Blog Marketing: Blogging is a big focus when it comes to content marketing. Blog provides a personal touch and advantage to your social media marketing too. Here you have a freedom or control over the product or service you are marketing for. Companies are hiring full-time bloggers for this job. Although, 62% of marketers blog or plan to blog in 2013, only 9% of US marketing companies employ a full-time blogger.

These are the points you should remember while making plan and strategies and how to reach the customers for a booming business.

Develop an MLM Marketing Plan

Most people that start a venture in network marketing do not succeed. I am not trying to start off with bad news it is just a fact of the business. I personally believe that one of the main reasons that most people fail is that they never took the time to develop an MLM marketing plan. This is actually true of just about all business models.

I know that most new recruits are told to make that first list quickly and introduce everyone you know to the opportunity. This is the basic old school marketing plan for MLM and it is no longer practical. The problem is this sets the new recruits up to be rejected by people they actually care about, and continuous rejection usually results in the newbie quitting before they ever got very deep into the business.

Okay, now for the good news. Thanks to the internet, everyone now has access to the global economy. Also through the use of lead generation pages, niche websites, social networking, video marketing, and much more, it is actually relatively easy to introduce your opportunity to the global market and have those that are interested contact you. Yes, people interested in the opportunity actually contact you. This is called warm prospecting or warm recruiting because those that contact you are already interested you just have to close the deal and help them get started.

Now for the good stuff. I am going to tell you how to set up a modern MLM marketing plan that actually works for you 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

The first thing is to find a high quality network marketed product or service that you can be passionate about. Being passionate about it makes it much easier to stick with long enough to really learn about it and see the benefits. Your passion will be felt by those you talk to about your opportunity. Personally I am passionate about health and nutrition. That is why I market what I consider to be the highest quality nutritional products available.

Next determine who your market really is. You may end up having two market demographics: one for the product and one for the opportunity. Develop a market plan for each demographic. Not everyone is an entrepreneur but they may still be interested in the product. This is why quality is key. The product has to be able to stand on its own without the opportunity. Not everyone is going to be interested in the product. Try to narrow down the demographics of those that would be interested so that you can communicate more receptively with your market.

Finally, get online. This is the most essential part of the MLM marketing plan. There are just so many ways to get a product and opportunity in front of thousands of people and create interest. The key here is to use a website or lead capture page to funnel traffic to using multiple marketing channels. This website or lead capture page needs to provide enough information to get the prospect interested enough to fill out a contact form or call you.

The multiple marketing channels that I am talking about are article marketing, forum marketing, pay per click marketing, social network marketing, business card marketing, blogs and video marketing.

Determine the following and hold yourself accountable:

  • How many articles you are going to write each week?
  • How often you are going to update your social networking fan page?
  • How many posts will you blog each week?
  • How many business cards will you give out each day?
  • How many instructional videos will you create each month?

Now that the marketing side of the plan is established decide how you are going to fallow up with leads. What information will you be providing on the fist contact? How long will you wait for the second contact and close? What do you need from the prospect to get them started? Are they interested in being a customer or team member?

You get the point. When a warm prospect contacts you, know ahead of time what you are going to do. It may take some time and a little trial and error to really get this part down but the idea is to have a plan. It is okay to modify that plan when need be but it is much easier to take action when you have a plan to stick to.

Here is the most important thing. Once you have created your plan, share it with everyone in your network. The only way to become successful in network marketing is to help others become successful.

It is easy to see how important it is to have a plan. Always remember… Those that do not have a plan, plan to fail.