If there’s one thing about marketing plans, they’re not very obvious.
Tell me if you know for sure that your competitors have marketing plans?
You don’t see them, but sometimes what you see is a marketing strategy that you admire – why didn’t I think of that?
Your true competitors have marketing plans – trust me. By “true” competitor, I mean the ones who are not going broke, who are not struggling day-to-day and just getting by. I mean those who are doing well, and dare I say it, doing better than you – what have they got that I haven’t got?
Instead of asking these, what I call, “catch-up” questions, ask what they know that you don’t know; what are they implementing that you are not.
Yes, your successful competitors do have marketing plans and this is what they don’t want you to know.
Marketing plans work.
Of 192 small businesses surveyed by us in 2018, 18% said their businesses grew year-on-year over the previous 3 years. Twenty-seven per cent of the businesses surveyed said they had a marketing plan. Unsurprisingly all of the businesses who said their businesses had grown in the previous 3 years all had marketing plans.
Marketing plans work for a number of critical reasons.
Marketing plans commit you to do something.
Marketing plans commit the business to go to the market – unless this is a prime focus, it just becomes something else to do in your busy day.
Small businesses without a marketing plan were most prone to waiting for customers to approach them – not the most reliable method of growing your sales.
Small businesses with a marketing plan did something at least every week to approach the market. In most instances, this is because the marketing plan has a series of strategies to follow. Implementing the strategies in accordance with the schedule in the plan means that you consistently do something to approach your market.
Marketing plans set up a target.
Marketing plans focus on low hanging fruit.
Small businesses without a marketing plan attempt to market themselves inconsistently and when they do, attempt to market to everyone with a heartbeat who walks past. The problem is, if you market to everyone, you reach no-one. People listen to marketing messages that ring home to them. In their busy lives, their brains are always filtering what might not apply or appeal to them. Unless you focus on the messages that mean something to them – that is, unless you hone in on people who are most likely to buy from you – they will ignore your messages.
Think of a business selling luxury watches, without a marketing plan.
They place ads everywhere. Their messages in the local suburban newspaper are wasted – who can afford them? Their messages in luxury goods magazines are ignored – who can believe their luxury label if they are also advertised in free newspapers?
A good marketing plan identifies your target customers, those who need or want your product or service. This means they are already motivated to buy your product or service or something similar that resolves their issues or problems. The marketing plan is then about how you make them see you as a supplier, rather than attempting to be all things to all people.
Marketing plans understand why your target customers need your product.
A good marketing plan inverts how you see your product or service by getting you to stand in your customer’s shoes – it’s not about how you see your product, it’s about how your customer might see it as their solution.
A business without a marketing plan tries to sell their product by telling people what their product is made of. They try to compete because of the “better” quality of their product.
Nobody buys a hammer because they need a hammer. They buy a hammer because they need to drive a nail in a piece of wood as quickly and comfortably as possible.
Once you understand that, you stop sending messages to your target customer about how your hammer is made of titanium steel and lasts a hundred years. Instead, you tell them about how comfortable it is in your hand, insulated from shocks, and is heavy enough to drive that nail in within three strokes. Nail in wood. Quickly. Comfortably.
Marketing plans establish the most appropriate marketing initiative for your target.
Once you know who your target market is and why they need your product, marketing plans set out the best way to reach them.
The analysis provides you with the right messages about hammering that nail into wood quickly and comfortably. It also helps you decide between alternative marketing initiatives so that you get the best return on investment.
If your target market for accounting systems is a law firm, a marketing plan will identify that the most effective way to a professional services firm is by referrals and through seminars showing how your system will save time and money and produce the most critical reports.
A business selling accounting systems without a marketing plan might try free offers and spend money on advertising on television, neither of which will attract a conservative, professional law firm.
Marketing plans make you market consistently.
Good marketing plans map out a timetable of continuous activity.
This means that you are continuously looking to feed potential targets into the top of your funnel, make yourself known to those in the middle of the funnel, and having sales conversations with those ready to convert at the bottom of your funnel.
Throughout, you are placing your business in front of mind.
It’s often said that a sale needs six “drips”. Each “drip” is a contact with a member of your target market, taking them on a journey of knowing that you exist, that you provide a product they use or are looking for, that your product provides them with what they need being the solution to their problem, and that you are the best supplier of their solution. The theory is that your target needs to be contacted at least 6 times, through different marketing initiatives from advertising to letters and email to freebies and offers, and through one-to-one contact before they are ready to investigate buying from you.
If you follow this theory, then you need to be consistent in your marketing and not just roll out a new initiative once in a while when you think about it.
Marketing plans help you understand your competitors.
The research during the marketing planning will research your major competitors.
This tells you what are their strengths and weaknesses. Understanding your competition, and aligning that understanding with what you know of your target market’s needs means that you can compete directly. You can compare your product with theirs and create messages that tug at the attention of your target market.
The Unique Selling Proposition, a concept developed in the 1950’s, draws you right back into the target market and can only be identified once you know your target market and your competition.
Your competitors don’t want you to know about these 7 things about marketing plans because it means their advantage over you will be worn away.
Don’t think that you can build your successful business by thinking about marketing now and then, by selling the best titanium steel hammer, by advertising in the cheapest but inappropriate places. You can build a successful business that you can be proud of, that will give you the profits to build your lifestyle, by preparing and implementing a focused marketing plan.
If you’re not sure what a marketing plan will consist of, you can get my free Contents of a SMART Marketing Plan here.
I also have a free video training series giving you some sales strategies and on how to prepare your own marketing plan. You can get them here.
So tell me what you think now? Do you believe a marketing plan can focus your business growth? If not, why not? If you do believe it, what will you do about it? Put a comment below or click on the reply button and let’s start a conversation!