I have been getting a lot of inquiries about marketing – where to start, what to do, and so on.
So, I thought I’d put together the top 10 questions about marketing that I get and discuss them over a three-part series. I’m going to deal with the top 4 questions this week, and continue next week with the next three. In week three I will deal with the final 3 and give you a simple process to create your targeted marketing plan.
Here are the questions:-
1 Why do I need to have a written marketing plan?
Marketing is probably the most important activity in your business – even more so than producing your product or service, because without a market, there’s nobody to buy the product or service.
If that is true, then it’s not good enough to have a set of ideas in your head. All that represents is a collection of good ideas. In order to organise the jumble of ideas and put them into an actionable plan, you need to put pen to paper so that you can review, prioritise, and keep the actions front of mind.
If you have a team, a written marketing plan allows everyone to understand the part they have to play. You can take the document to the bank and obtain finance to fund the marketing activities.
I would organise your marketing plan into the following:-
- An executive summary
- Your business objectives
- The product, or service, analysis
- Your target market
- Pricing strategy
- Marketing activities
- The marketing calendar
- Resources required
- Detailed action plans
- Monitoring and evaluation arrangements
2 How do I start?
Marketing is about responding to the market. This means that you need information:-
- Information about the competition – who are they, where are they, who do they sell to, what do they sell? Look at their advertisements, brochures and websites;
- Information about your customers – who are they, what are their characteristics and demographics, what are their needs, what pain do they want to resolve? Look at your current customers and what they represent; think about market surveys and tests and trials;
- Information about your product or service – what benefits does it represent to the customer, what needs does it meet, what’s their value for money, what’s unique about your product compared to the competition?
What you are looking for is information to help you find the gaps in the current market, and the needs not being met.
Marry that information with your broad business objectives. Are you business objectives to increase sales? By how much and when? Are your business objectives to diversify geographically? Where, how and when? Take the information you found and see how the facts sit with your business objectives – how do they affect those goals in terms of volume, time, demand, and so on. Next, review your existing resources and ask how you can focus those resources (or change them) to meet the best opportunities in order to attain your goals.
3 Is marketing to consumers different from B2B or marketing to businesses?
If you refer to the information to seek from question 2, you will see that it would probably be more difficult to get accurate information from a whole mass of the public, and a lot easier to define within business targets. Businesses are easier to categorise, define and identify. You can find out more detail about individual business customers by looking them up, checking websites, even calling them.
On the other hand marketing to consumers is generally less targeted, involving mass marketing. That is, unless you find a clear niche. For example if you were a mechanic offering mechanical services to the general public, you would consider mass marketing techniques such as advertisements in the local newspaper, letter-box drops, signage in the street and so on. However if you were a mechanic specialising in classic and vintage automobiles, your marketing can be far more selective, perhaps advertising in specialist magazines. What is you were a mechanic specialising in British classic cars of the 50’s and 60’s? Imagine how much more targeted you can get – you would know exactly where owners of these cars hung out and get to them.
Marketing 101 is all about segmentation. If you are able to segment your market accurately, you can craft messages that speak to exactly the segment you target, you can identify where to reach them, you can distinguish yourself from the competition who aim more generally. This can be done whether you are marketing B2C or B2B.
4 I provide services – are they marketed in a different way from physical products?
Certainly products, being more tangible, are easier to explain. If you sell books, everyone knows what a book is. All you have to do is tell the customer of what benefits reading your books gives them and what needs your books satisfy.
Marketing services has a slightly more complicated story – you have to explain the service but then you also have to explain why it is different from others and then finally what benefits it brings and what needs are met.
Let’s say you are marketing some audit services. While people understand what an audit is, they actually have to appreciate some detail of what it is as opposed to what it is not. For example, audits do not set out to discover fraud although that is one of the possible benefits of having an audit on your business, simply because audit processes are designed to throw up anomalies. Once your audience is on the same page as you – only then can you move on to why your audit processes are more efficient (what distinguishes you) and the way you don’t disrupt the workplace (benefit) and that they can sleep easy (need) once it is done.
Well, those are the first four FAQ’s on marketing.
Next week I will look at three more, and then the final three the week after. Don’t miss it – click here to register your name and email and I will send it directly to your inbox along with other free tips, tools and resources to grow your business.
If you want to write your own marketing plan but don’t know where to start, why don’t you check out my online workshop that takes you through the 7 steps to create a focused, targeted marketing plan. It’s called SMART Marketing and you can find out more by clicking here, or go to my website teikoh.com and follow the link to Products and SMART Marketing.
Remember, part 2 is next week.