A well thought out marketing plan is essential for any business. It serves as a roadmap to guide you to
- reach your target audience effectively;
- communicate with them;
- keep your focus on what matters most;
- use your resources wisely; and
- achieve your goals for growth.
In this article we explore four key steps in creating a winning marketing plan.
1. Know your audience
The critical first step is to identify your target audience. Who are they? What do they most need or want Are they motivated to avoid pain or to gain pleasure? Where are they? How do they spend their time online and offline?
Defining them clearly allows you to understand and appreciate how you and your offers can satisfy their demands. It also helps you gauge whether this is a viable market segment for you. Don’t fall into the trap of seeing a gap in the market and assuming there is a market in that gap.
2. Craft a powerful marketing message
An effective marketing message is addressed only to your target audience. It communicates that you know and understand what they want and need, and that you can satisfy those needs and wants.
Use language that speaks to both rational thinking and emotions. We tend to purchase on an emotional level, i.e. we are motivated by how the message makes us feel or by how we believe we will feel once we have what we desire. We then justify our decisions with logic.
Clarity engenders trust while confusion is the enemy of sales. So keep your message simple, and clear. Focus on one thing at a time. Help your prospective customer to do the same. Present everything else (e.g. the unique features and benefits of your product or service) as ancillary to and congruent with your core message.
3. Set and communicate clear goals for each key area of your business
Set SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) or use another process to define your principal targets. No matter which technique you use, your goals need to
- align with your overall objectives;
- be specific and measurable; and
- be achievable within a given timeframe.
Agreeing a target to increase sales by 20% in the coming 90 days will drive you to identify appropriate strategies and to ignore irrelevant ones. Your goals should be easy to understand and easy to measure – there is no point in investing time, energy and/or money without being able to know how successful your efforts have been.
4. Measure and report
According to Peter Drucker, “What gets measured, gets managed.” Karl Pearson took it a step further when he said “What is measured, improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.”
There is little point in devising and implementing a plan if you don’t then measure your results. Or measure the wrong things. The data you collect will show you what is working, and what isn’t. It will also point you in the direction of adjustments that can and/or should be made to improve performance.
Many business owners are reluctant to report their results. The two most common reasons given are the information is sensitive and the data is hard to understand. The most common real reason is shame. We live in an age when success is glorified and we are afraid to admit that we have made mistakes, lost money, or gone down the wrong path.
However, if you are willing to take the risk of appearing foolish or unsuccessful, you can engage your staff in a far more meaningful process to achieve real long term success. Everyone on your team wants you and your business to succeed – they depend on you for their income and are heavily invested in your future. Being real with them and sharing the truth about your efforts and results can be transformative.
If you want to achieve exponential growth, the quickest and easiest way to do it is to publish and share your results with your staff and key stakeholders.
To be successful you need a lot more than just having a great product or service. You also need a plan and an effective strategy to reach your target market:
- Identify who they are and what they need and want
- Create a clear message that speaks directly to them
- Set achievable goals and adopt strategies and tactics to reach them
- Measure and share your results with your team and key stakeholders
There is no need to overcomplicate things, either for yourself or for your customers. These 4 steps are easy to do and can significantly improve your sales and marketing results.
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