A Well Organized Market Plan
If anyone is feeling the effects of our slumping economy, it’s small-business owners.
Amid all the question marks and uncertainty, customers have become fickle and certain services have been deemed “unnecessary.” Clearly, now is not the time to misspend your marketing dollars, but neither is it the time to cut marketing out of your budget completely.
In a challenging economic climate, you need to use marketing to maintain your sales, but you should also plan for the future by taking the right steps to build long-term customer relationships and set yourself apart from your competition.
Sure times are tough, especially for small businesses, but that’s all the more reason to integrate key, targeted marketing, efforts into your business budget, however limited it may be.
It’s also time to be strategic, and that means you need a plan of action.
A simple plan
Start with something manageable – think about what you want to accomplish this year. You can always add to it later. Ready to move forward? Follow these simple steps to get started.
Analyze your current situation
Be sure to think about things out of your control that may impact your business, for instance, an increase in sales tax and the effect that might have on your sales.
Truly know your target market
Make a list of the key attributes that make up your “ideal” customer. If you’re marketing to consumers, list the demographic criteria that should apply – things such as age, gender or areas of interest. Marketing to a business? Identify them by type (health care, technology, etc.) and list any relevant details that will help you categorize them accordingly (size, geographic locations, etc).
Set reasonable, attainable goals
Strategies vs. tactics
Performing strategic and tactical planning is essential to your marketing plan; otherwise it will always remain just a document full of good intentions and untapped potential. This is probably the most important step in your plan development process, so don’t skimp on it.
Be budget smart
Instead of cutting marketing altogether, have a plan to spend your budget efficiently. Identify exactly how much you can afford to spend on your marketing efforts and create a realistic plan of action. Think about what each tactic may cost – this will help you determine if your approach is reasonable, or a little too “pie in the sky” for your current fiscal state. For instance, you may have listed “television advertising” as a tactic, but once you consider the costs of production and media, you might realize that it’s just too expensive for you to do this year.
A practical budget is key to a successful marketing program.
By evaluating your program regularly, you can make refinements early instead of wasting money continuing marketing activities that don’t work for your business. Your marketing plan should be a living document; one that you adjust to match the economic climate, your individual progress, growth and goals for your business.
Seek help if you need it
When in doubt, ask for assistance. The worst thing a ‘newbie’ can do is to just blunder ahead, without thinking of the consequences. Everyone needs someone, and especially when you have a new business, you often need a lot of someone’s. Why not let me help you to become a suceess?
Excerpt from article published Mar. 20, 2009 by Lori Prosio with Katz & Associates