Creating a solid marketing plan for your home business (and following it) is key if you don't want to fail. Unfortunately, many home businesses don't take the time to make one. It doesn't have to be complex, but you do want a plan written on paper that is thoughtful and easy to relay to others. Here's what you do:
Do Your Research
Any marketing plan for your home business must begin with research. Research your potential customers to learn what their pressing need is. What is everyone complaining about? What problem is not getting solved? What products or services do you provide that would be the solution they're looking for? You can find out this information by visiting forums and blogs in your industry, and by using tools such as Google Adwords.
Research your competitors to see what solutions they're proposing and how what you're offering is different. Also pay attention to how they deliver solutions, and see how you can set yourself apart. Research any vendors, suppliers or potential team members to see who can help you succeed at your business. It's important to summarize your research using Microsoft Word tables or Excel, and include links so that you can easily revisit a website. Keep enough notes so that you don't have to redo the work in the future.
Write Your Plan
When you've completed your research, plan 1 hour to write a 7 sentence marketing plan. This is the method recommended by marketing guru Jay Conrad Levinson, author of Guerrilla Marketing and founder of The Guerrilla Marketing Association. Major companies such as Proctor and Gamble answer the following questions to formulate a plan:
- What physical act do you want people to take as a result of your marketing (sign up, call, click to purchase...)?
- What competitive advantage does your customer receive as a result of taking the physical act?
- Who is your target audience?
- Which "marketing weapons" will you use? (Some are brochures, participation in forums, advertising. A list of 100 weapons is posted on www.guerrillamarketingassociation.com.)
- What is your niche? (For example, high quality or low cost.)
- What is your identity? (For example, professional proofreader or organic and chemical free products)
Communicate Your Plan
Your marketing plan should not remain on your hard-drive or posted in your home office. It should come shining through in everything that you do, from reaching customers to delivering your products or services. You should talk about your plan with your family and get their input. Doing this is a great way to practice communicating your marketing vision, and helps to solidify it in your mind.
Discuss the plan with anyone on your team and make sure they also receive a written copy. For example, if you're a freelance graphics artist who outsources some of the work to a web developer, they need to know your marketing plan. This will help them deliver what you need for customers, pursuant to the way you want. It may help them improve their delivery time, if speed is highlighted in your marketing plan.
Schedule time to create or tweak a marketing plan for your home business if you want to boost sales. You can be making more money if you put more effort into marketing, while delivering quality products or services at lower costs.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.