Being a smart marketer can mean the difference between whether your business succeeds or fails. Developing a strategic marketing plan will not only help you to edge out the competition, but also grow a booming business.
1- Check Out the Competition
Before launching your campaign, identify what makes your business special in comparison to what the competitors are offering. Do a little mystery shopping to gather information. Choose three or four direct competitors and pretend to be an interested customer. Ask about pricing, product and delivery. See what they think is special about their business. You can also research where they are marketing their products in newspaper ads, new media spots such as Facebook, or Internet advertising and TV or radio spots.
Once you surmised what you are up against, you can begin to develop your marketing plan. Identify one or two extraordinary aspects of your business and use them as the lead for all marketing. This could include your pricing structure, on-time delivery, or expertise in your field.
2- Develop a Personalized Plan
Before deciding on which communication channels to use, focus on your speciality and how that sets you apart from your competitors. Consider your audience and where they are most likely to obtain news and information. An example is a home-based t-shirt company. Your speciality are school spirit t-shirts because no one else in the market provides them. Your audience are principals, administrators and classroom teachers. To build a targeted marketing program, make a personal visit to each area school and deliver samples, your business card, and possibly a giveaway such as a magnet with your logo or some pens. You can also advertise in school newspapers and attend PTA meetings.
3- Carefully Choose Advertising Mediums
Your speciality and audience will naturally lead you to which channels will work best for you. If you are selling crafts, you might want to go a more traditional route such as newspaper ads, craft fairs, or neighborhood flyers. For a newer, cutting edge job, such as web developer, you may want to stick to advertising on new media.
You have a wide variety of marketing and advertising avenues including:
- trade magazine ads
- new media
- sales calls
- direct mail
No matter which medium you choose, you will always want to make your differentiator, or speciality, your leading message.
4- Review and Revise
Every successful marketing plan is based on trial and error. If this is your first time marketing your product or service, you'll need to take a leap of faith and then review your campaign. Track your results and have a goal. When a new client calls you, ask them where they learned of your business. You will compile valuable data that will tell you where the majority of prospects are finding out about you, and ultimately which calls result in sales. Tracking data will also help you to evaluate your communication channels to determine your ROI or return on investment. Rule of thumb is that you want to make more money from your marketing than spend. In the end you may cut certain programs or try new ones.
Always continue checking up on the competition. Mystery shop competitors at least once a quarter to determine if they changed their business to be more competitive with you!