We recently shared a post about the role marketing plays during difficult and uncertain times. The last 12 months would certainly qualify as such. One of the messages was the concept of changing your marketing mindset from selling products and services to providing help. This marketing mindset change involves a marketing plan that extends a hand to help your customer base rather than pushing products and services onto that base. But where do you start?
If you are a small to medium business, you may not have a solidified marketing plan. If you are like most small to medium businesses, your approach is a scattershot attempt to drum up business. So, the question is: what is marketing and a marketing plan?
Marketing is all the activities a business does to meet the demand of the market for their product or service. It encompasses the entire process, from product planning through sales and post purchase customer service. Marketing exists from beginning to end (and beyond) because it creates one of the most crucial pieces of marketing: message. Message includes elements from your mission and vision statement, as well as your core values, and carries through everything you do. You craft that message to a very specific audience, your target audience. This is where you can craft your message as help rather than sales.
A marketing plan allows you the time and space to clearly identify marketing personas that are the best fit for your product. In your marketing planning, you identify exact demographics and psychographics that combine into your subset target market. After taking into consideration such pieces of information as culture, reference groups, and environmental purchasing influences, you can clearly identify their problems and how your product solves them. A determining factor in the success of a well-crafted marketing plan is including a plan for implementation and evaluation.
One aspect of a marketing plan that many small to medium business owners forget or overlook is an implementation plan. You have developed a sense of what you want to tell potential customers about your products and services, but how do you reach your potential customers? An implementation plan is your playbook on executing your marketing plan. An implementation plan involves:
Where: In a digital age, every business has access to a variety of options to reach millions of people on a daily basis. Your implementation plan needs to include where you are doing to reach people. Social media platforms, for example, allow you to market your products and boost/sponsor the reach of each post. Boosting or sponsoring your post is an advertising function where you pay to have your social media post show up on the feeds and timelines of customers who are not already following your business on the platform.
When: Consistency in implementing your marketing plan is important. Your products and services have a lot of features than can help people. Sharing all your features in one advertisement reduces your content options. Posting 2-3 times a week on social media or producing 1-2 blogs a month is sufficient to keep your audience engaged and not overload their feeds or timelines.
Follow Up: Following up on your implementation plans includes evaluating your social engagements, website traffic, and responding to comments from potential customers. The follow up evaluation of your implementation plan should include determining what types of content garners more attention.
Marketing is an important business function to communicate to the public what you do, how you do it, and what it is important. Determining how your products and services provide solutions to target audience is the key to a good marketing plan. This solutions oriented marketing mindset can draw a larger customer base. Furthermore, how you implement your plan is just as important. Failing to properly implement your marketing plan leaves you directionless.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
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