1.  Create a distinctive and unique brand

Why should customers choose you over your competition? That question should always be in your mind when planning your next move. Think of your brand as your companies personality.

Your brand if developed properly and if truly unique will help differentiate, attract and make the brand familiar with potential customers. It will also set the tone for all future marketing material as well as making it clear for all staff on the direction the company is taking. I chose “Sales focused marketing” as my main message because that that is my expertise and through my research that is why my customers choose me over my competition.

Once you create your message and objectives for the brand, you should then and only then, start work with a graphic designer on the logo. Once this is all in place you can build your new brand into your marketing plan.

2.  Research your market and your ideal target customer

Before you begin spending money on attracting customers, it is wise to research your market. The main purpose of market research “is to provide relevant data that will help solve marketing problems, a business will encounter”(Source). Try to use both primary and secondary research.

However my advice is don’t get too disheartened at the thought of it, keep it simple and use resources at hand. You should know a lot already about your industry and your customers should be able to provide the remainder. I have created a 20 page “FM” market questionnaire in my audit that makes it easy for my clients to understand their market and gives them a clear insight into their industry. By breaking down the areas you want to understand, it will make it easier for you to use the data after.

Also why not email existing customers and use social media to sent out surveys to get feedback which you can use for your overall plan. Use  Google Docs , iContact or Mailchimp for creating and emailing surveys.  Other cost effective ways is telephone surveys which will also provide you with results quickly.

Your research should help you understand:

  • Buying behaviour
  • Identify potential customers
  • Size of market
  • Areas to target
  • Defining your product/service
  • Pricing
  • Direct & indirect competition in your industry
  • What marketing to invest in

Once you gather all this information, use it to create your plan that will attract more customers to your business.

3. Set out & plan your sales & marketing goals

Using this research, create a marketing plan that will suit your business and budget.

Set out a clear marketing strategy that will be the foundation of a well written marketing plan.  This can include the corporate vision that gives the long term direction of the business.

Once the strategy is in place, you can set clear marketing goals that need to be measurable and will provide you with the information that the plan is working when it is implemented.

The marketing plan should clearly define the following aspects of the business.

  • Financial data
  • Product data
  • Sales & distribution data
  • Market data from your research

For a view of the content that should go into a detailed marketing plan, check out Finn Media marketing plan content list.

The plan is a guide and will be a essential tool in shaping your company into a profitable and attractive business where customers will want to shop. Remember you wont always need a detailed plan but do create one especially if it only includesaction plans , controls and reviews. This will give you focus in implementing your plan to complete your goals.

4. Include cost effective marketing solutions and digital marketing

Within your plan you will be using inbound (attracting customers)and outbound marketing (Sales approach & paid advertising), so carefully choose the most suitable promotion for your business and budget. One effective marketing promotion every business should also include is some form of Digital marketing.

Digital marketing is the promoting of brands using all forms of digital advertising channels to reach consumers. This includes Internet, digital television, mobile, social media marketing and any other form of digital media. Internet digital marketing using databases, SEO and PPC can be a very cost effective way to promote your business. (See FAQ)

Every business have or should have a presence on line whether its your own business website or a free directory site to promote your company. Use SEO to increase your page rank, Google adwords if advertising online, Social media to engage with your customers and send out newsletters promoting your business. Always make sure the newsletter is attractive to the target audience , otherwise they will press the delete button before reading it, (Remember the subject text is the most important line). There is a lot more to talk about with Digital marketing and I hope to create a new blog post soon explaining it further but in the meantime, start researching what digital marketing will suit your business and create an online marketing plan.

5. Give responsibility to the person implementing plan & monitoring its progress

Once the plan is created, don’t leave it on a shelf to gather dust! Remember action speaks louder than words so get that first meeting arranged to start discussing the plan and allocate a person, (yourself, staff member, outside marketer) to be in charge of it.

By handing responsibility of the plan to someone will increase the chances of it being implemented. Their role is to monitor the actions and communicate with all persons involved in carrying out duties in the plan. They will also monitor results and should amend the plan if required. Basically it is their responsibility and they should be awarded or scolded if problems occur.

6. Review – Review – Review – Review

This is one of the most important steps in the whole process. While the plan made sound good in theory, it is only when it is implemented that we can see what is working and not working. Weekly/Monthly meetings should be held to review the whole process with the key people so changes  can be made quickly and effectively to keep the goals in full view.

Also use tools such as Google documents to allow each member to add data which will show what is working. For example, one sheet should show what marketing action where each inquiry is coming from, another to show where website is ranking each week including website viewers etc. This will keep it all transparent and allow clear and concise communication within your organisation.

I hope this blog post has been of interest and please leave a comment. Also please contact me if you have any further questions.