Would you rather put your hand in a blender than create marketing plans? For small business owners, often the answer is a resounding “YES!” The task is often time-consuming, tedious and some would even say mind-numbing. But then there are people like me. Marketing nerds that live to create marketing plans for small businesses. People that keep notepads on their nightstand because they often find themselves waking up in the wee hours of the night full of tactical revelations to grow your business. Welcome to my world.
I tend to hear the same questions over and over again from small business owners that find themselves in need of a marketing plan.
- “Why should I create a marketing plan?”
- “When do I need a marketing plan?
- “What should a marketing plan include?”
Today I answered these questions (and a lot more) in a radio interview I did with Debra Simpson, Producer of the North San Diego Business At Large radio program. The recorded interview can be heard right here, right now.
Once we get past the intros and into the interview itself, you’ll hear Deb ask me what the key elements of a marketing plan are. Since we were pretty limited on time I had to blast through these quickly without much explanation. Here’s a little more detail that explains what your marketing plan should include specifically:
The Company Background Statement
The company background statement positions you. It indicates what your company is, how long it has existed, who owns it, who manages it, what services it provides and the credentials of those providing them.
The Marketing Background Statement
The marketing background statement lays out how your business has been built to date. It lists every single marketing tactic you’ve tried and the results of your efforts. It also states how your business is currently operating–and requires you to document your revenue, number of leads received each month, number of leads converted to customers, length of the sales process, and other key criteria. This establishes a baseline for future marketing activity.
The Ideal Client Demographic and Psychographic Profile
The demographic profile should identify the age, gender, household income, education, professional status, ethnicity, marital status, geographic location and other relevant, quantifiable characteristics of your ideal client. The psychographic profile denotes the attitudes, lifestyle, opinions, values and commonly-held beliefs of your ideal client. It’s been said that 90% of purchases are emotional. Knowing this, it is extremely important to understand the emotional characteristics and lifestyle tendencies of your ideal clients, so you are positioned to share messages that resonate deeply with them.
The Key Competitor List & Selling Points
This is a list and analysis of your top five competitors. Who are they? What messages are they sharing with your prospective clients that are “shopping around?” How are they positioning themselves? What are they telling the clients they’re gaining and you’re losing?
What makes you different from everyone else that sells the same thing? Why are you the ideal choice? What is your compelling story?
Client Perspective Summary
What do your existing clients say makes you different from everyone else that sells the same thing? Why did they choose to do business with you instead of your competitors? Do the differentiating points you’re currently sharing resonate with them or is is just “more noise?” How did they feel before they worked with you? How did they feel after they worked with you? Who would they recommend you to?
Considering your marketing history and the baseline you established when you developed your Marketing Background Statement, what reasonable growth expectations can you set for the next year? The next five years? Be sure your objectives are specific, measurable, and time-sensitive. Every objective should include a number and date.
How can you articulate your differentiating message better? How can you enhance your credibility and visibility in the market? Where, when and how should your message be heard?
Key Performance Indicators
How will you measure your efforts throughout the year? Considering your big picture objectives, what specific results must you obtain in the next month, quarter, etc., in order to confirm that your efforts are well-placed? If you’re finding that you’re missing them mark mid-way, what’s plan B?
12 Month Marketing Calendar
Based on your availability and budget, the 12 month marketing calendar is your action plan. Separated by month, it indicates every single thing you need to do to reach your goals. No details are left behind here. Consider it your monthly marketing to-do list that clearly spells out what needs to be done, who is responsible for doing it, and when it will be done by.
And that’s that. When you’ve answered all of these questions with great attention to detail, you’ve got everything you need to get the marketing ball rolling for you again. You’re equipped to share the right message, with the right people, at the right time, in the right place and in the right way…all of which will lead to your ideal customers saying “yes! I want to buy what you sell!” Good stuff, eh?