A Seven Step Marketing Plan

Every small business should have developed a business plan for 2012 by now. If you haven't set goals, action plans, employee accountability, and timetables, then you're like the blindfolded archer shooting at a target.

Part of the business plan is a marketing plan that looks back at what worked and didn't work in 2011. Taking these aspects into consideration, what improvements in your marketing need to be done in 2012 to improve and grow?

You can develop a simple yet definitive marketing plan by answering these 7 questions:

  • 1. What is the purpose of the plan? Define the purposes of your marketing plan and how are you going to achieve them. Maybe it is to increase awareness of your location. Possibly the marketing plan wants to grow a new niche product you are selling. It can be as specific as to provide awareness and reach a certain dollar sales goal.
  • 2. Who are you trying to reach with your marketing efforts? Determine your target market. Believe me when I say it is not "everyone". As a small business owner you should have a well defined target market. Even if you just sell on the web, your target market is not everyone on the web. Maybe you don't ship overseas. Maybe only people who fish want to buy your rods and reels. You have a limited budget, so limit your audience.
  • 3. What is your niche? This can be things like your expertise, efficiency, exclusivity, customer satisfaction, loyalty, or a unique buying experience. A question within a question to help you determine a niche is "We want to be known as...?"
  • 4. What are the benefits and competitive advantages of your product or service? The customer wants to know "What's in it for me?" A marketing plan should be focused on helping the sales team sell benefits, not features. A self cleaning oven is a feature. You don't sell features; you sell benefits. So the benefit is convenience.
  • 5. What do you want your identity to be? This is a visual expression of your company including the look, feel, color, and logo. Anything that meets the senses of your customers can convey your company's identity.
  • 6. What are your marketing weapons? Some examples are print advertising, television, the web, public relations, etc.
  • 7. What is your marketing budget? The total should relate to a percent of sales it is expected to generate. Each marketing weapon defined in #6 should have a budget.
Finally, your business plan and your marketing plan are living documents. Revisit them and refine them. One constant question you and your team will answer in all of this is "What can we do better?"


MJD Business Advice LLC is owned by Mike Daley, an award winning, small business expert, who has over 37 years of helping entrepreneurs start, grow, buy and sell businesses. We focus on small business consulting with companies who have 100 employees or less. Mike has been consulting, counseling, and providing business advice to hundreds of potential start-ups, and existing businesses in a variety of industries. Through Mike's advice, clients have grown profits, obtained financing, increased...

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