As an interjection to the letters of a business man to his son, I thought I should rekindle your proactivity with the bellow. It is vital to learn from the best in order to be the best, however, with the same breath; one of the leading business success secrets is to ‘mind your own business’. Therefore, to maintain focus of one’s enterprise, I suggest we review the marketing strategy, because it is the lifeblood of the business – if you are not growing you are dying. Thus, it is very vital to keep marketing.
There are literally volumes written about marketing planning. It boils down to developing your roadmap. What paths will you take, which turns will you make and, most important of all, where are you going? Unless you have an endpoint on your road map, how do you know which path to take? In the words of Yogi Berra: “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.” A good plan conveys your company’s vision to target markets, customers and employees. As part of this vision, your plan should emphasise your company’s long-term goals and the path to get there. Stops along the journey, in the form of initiatives and actions, are key landmarks on the roadmap to executing the plan.
What You’ll Need
To create a good marketing plan you need to the following basic elements (besides the guerrilla marketing prerequisites of time, energy and imagination): You need lots of information.
You need thinking time, analysis, ideas and creativity, all wrapped up into “brain power”.
Finally, you need initiative: the ability to want to do something, and the ability to get it done.
Marketing plans range in form from the back of an envelope to bound editions. The guerrilla rule of thumb is to lean towards the brief side, but with enough meat that it can be used as a guiding tool along your marketing journey. A good guide will provide plenty of information for you to develop the initiatives, actions, follow-up, accountability and measurement to run your business effectively, and in this case, your marketing.
Creating a Marketing Plan
Here’s a simple process for creating a marketing plan using just seven questions:
1: What is the purpose of your marketing?
2: Who is your target market?
3: What is your niche?
4: What are the benefits and competitive advantage?
5: What is your identity?
6: What tactics, strategies and weapons will you use to carry out your marketing?
7: How much money will you spend on your marketing; what’s your marketing budget?
These questions represent your marketing plan outline.
Nailing Your Strategy
“Build it and they will come” isn’t an effective marketing plan or strategy. A successful plan boils down to two essentials:
Knowing your market inside and out, including what customers want and expect.
Identifying what’s in your way of satisfying customers: e.g., competitors, barriers to entry, costs, outside influences, budgets and preference etc.
Armed with the knowledge of these two essentials, you can develop all the necessary marketing strategies that will allow you to attract, obtain and keep customers. In addition, you’ll also be ready to react to any marketplace changes when they happen. A good guerrilla marketing plan must be flexible enough to respond to changes. Markets change, customers change, and company intentions and activities change. Flexibility is an inherent characteristic of a guerrilla marketer. The outcome of this planning process won’t just be your total plan, but it will be your total planning perspective.
Time to Take Action
Here are some distinct actions you can take to ensure that you complete an effective marketing plan:
What portion of each day will you devote to reviewing your plan and any necessary revising?
Write a hypothetical outcome statement about the completion of your plan. For example: “After planning to increase leads and referrals for our sales staff to pursue and convert, many marketing weapons were employed. Utilising the guerrilla marketing resources of time, energy and imagination, we embarked on an aggressive PR campaign, issuing press releases for new services introduced, new information available demonstrating our expertise, and announcement of events for our target market to sample the service. This was backed up with “meet and greet” programmes at various networking events, ads in trade association directories, and telemarketing to trade show attendees. The leads generated were focused, open to our follow-up, and ripe for conversion. We ended up getting more leads than our sales force could follow up on so we implemented a telemarketing inside sales force. Conversion increased, sales increased, and we made more trips to the bank to make deposits.”
Outline your plan
Start with seven planning components/questions mentioned above. Take these seven questions and develop plan sub-headings, supplemental information and new ideas.
What information (research) do you have now relative to your planning outline?
What information (research) do you still need?
What market research methods will you use to obtain that information?
List and prioritise your marketing objectives, for example:
Product / service introduction
Position the company, product or service as a market leader
Counter action to competitive strategy
Lead generation and referrals
Obtain market share in a new geographical area
Renew, refresh, and communicate a new identity of success
Trusting that the above is comprehensive and practical enough, subject to be tailored to one’s specific entrepreneurial activities and credibility. It is not Practice that makes perfect; it is perfect practice that makes perfect! Do not let your marketing plan be a ‘nice to have document’ – Put it to perfect practice!