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Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Lucky Seven Must Do’s for Marketing Plans | THE OVER-CAFFEINATED ENTREPRENEUR

David J. DunworthThe Over-Caffeinated Entrepreneur with David J. Dunworth

Marketing planning is the winning component for any business, whether a new start up or an emerging enterprise, seasoned business or corporate giant. While there is both art and science to the development of a strategic and tactical pair of plans, the nuances can make all of the difference between a mediocre plan and a tremendous success. By delving deeply into each of the following aspects of the planning process, you can achieve more.

The following tenets of a marketing plan will improve the results of any business if used wisely.
  • Identify your goals, both financial and otherwise
  • Research your competition
  • Identify your market niche
  • Create the vision and mission, adjust accordingly
  • Talk to your customers and prospects
  • Put the plan on paper
  • Track the results daily
It is of little consequence if your business is online or brick and mortar, a product or service type of business, small or large. All businesses need to utilize a formal plan, however constructed, as long as it is on paper. If you commit anything to paper, your focus will be enhanced by that action. Working the marketing plan is a rigorous process, and key personnel (even if you are the entire company) must complete all of these steps to be a success. However, if you think working the plan is rigorous, you must be prepared to put in even more effort to create a thorough plan in the first place. It takes significant effort and thorough research to construct a professional document.
  • Identify your goals, both financial and otherwise
This is the actual beginning of the planning process; what do you want to get out of the project? Identify how big you wish to grow your business; what will be the revenue targets; what is the percentage of the market do you wish to control; what level of profit is expected; how much are you willing to spend to accomplish these goals? By creating a formal set of goals, you now have all of the targets for which to aim.
  • Research your competition
Conducting an audit of the competitors in your market, along with the industry leaders on a national or global level will provide insights into the breath and depth of the market itself. Take special notice of the strengths and shortcomings of the competitors, allowing you to modify and adjust your approach to the marketing effort. No business is all things to all people, so it is important to rank your competitors by their attributes and deficiencies to see where you stack up.
  • Identify your market niche
Once you identify where you fit in the ranking of your competition, you now can select exactly which portion of the market you wish to exploit. Because you already know that you cannot compete with all of the competitors, select an area, feature, price point or segment to focus your marketing planning. Perhaps there is some facet of the market need that isn’t being addressed by anyone; that is a perfect opportunity to penetrate the market and command a portion that is currently being ignored.
  • Create the vision and mission, adjust according
Developing your image and identity is developing your brand. Your brand is the most important asset your business owns, so protecting, enhancing and living your brand is paramount to success. Your business becomes a visual entity once your brand is perfected. Every time a customer uses your product or service, they have a positive or negative experience. If it is positive, your brand is reinforced with that customer and a few others that person tells about the experience. If it is a negative experience, your brand erodes, becomes tarnished not only to the person affected, they will tell at least nine other people about how your company messed up. Developing a strong mission and vision, and leading the team toward exceeding them will go a long way to keeping your market penetration going.
  • Talk to your customers and prospects
There are numerous ways to talk to your customer base. Some companies use customer satisfaction surveys, others use focus groups, still others use client advisory panels. Big box retailers, along with many other types of retail organizations offer a raffle to log on to a quick survey with a chance to win something.

Ever see market researchers at the shopping mall and wonder what they are researching? Chances are that one of your competitors is researching prospective customers what they need, how much they feel is a good value or some other aspect of the market information needed to construct an effective plan. Why not offer a discount coupon or a free item for assisting with the survey? By developing your strategy to provide your customers with the product or service they really want, and the ability to make a reasonable profit, you have no choice but to grow.
  • Put the plan on paper
You’ve gone through the most difficult parts of a marketing plan’s development, now it is time to document the final assumptions, objectives, strategic and tactical action steps. All of your work will bear fruit once it is all documented, reviewed by all participants, and sworn allegiance to. Unless you believe the plan, it is nothing more than a piece of paper, so make sure you don’t shortchange any aspect.

Some business owners claim that they possess a marketing plan in their head; it’s probably right next to their tactical business plan. Unless your plan is on paper, it is nothing more than idle thoughts, with no commitment,and structure. or key strategies.

At the forefront of the planning process, this may seem daunting, but I assure you that it will be well worth your time if success is important to you.

Remember this: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

David J Dunworth is a business consultant and coach to entrepreneurs and emerging enterprises, and is a subject matter expert on strategic and tactical planning. For additional information and additional advice, see his blog at:

For more information, please visit David's TNNWC Bio.

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