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Creating a Marketing Plan - the basics
by Startacus Admin
Creating a Marketing Plan - the basics...
For a business to be really successful one of the key elements that needs to be addressed from the earliest stages is the whole issue of Marketing. Of course you could decide to just let your business coast along but chances are you’ll get a whole lot further and in a more straightforward way if you just put a little effort into creating a Marketing Plan from the off. If the mere thought of doing that is daunting to say the least, our basic guide to what you should look at should hopefully help make the whole thing a lot easier.
Purpose of Your Business Identify clearly what the primary purpose of your business is. Are you providing a product or a service? Are you addressing a particular problem and providing a solution? Think about what exactly you are providing to any customer or client. How is your service or product going to be of benefit to them? Clearly outline all that you are offering and plan to offer them. The basic purpose of your business should be one of the first things that you look at and should remain a key focus at all times, no matter how big your business grows.
Know your Customers and your Market You need to identify who exactly your product or service is aimed at. What size of a target market do you have? Quantifying the size of your market and therefore the potential customer base that you could have is key. Also look at what exactly they are looking for from a business like yours? If you had an ideal customer, what would they be like? Other factors to look at include where your customers are based? Are they of a certain age group? How much would they be prepared to spend on the product or service that you are providing? Within this also, it is essential to look at your competitors. Who else serves the same customers that you will be seeking? What do they offer? Gathering all this information as early as possible is essential. 192.com is a good example of an online business and people directory that can help you do just that.
Identify your USP If your business is to be distinguished from other businesses in the market, you need to have a clearly defined USP (Unique Selling Point). Compare what you are offering to the competition. Are you offering something entirely new or innovative? Are you offering something cheaper or faster or improved in some way? Are you providing something of better quality? Identifying what unique features make your business stand out ought to be one of the key elements of your Marketing focus and will also have a major role with all your Sales activities going forward.
Communicating with your customers Planning what information you are going to deliver to your customers and how you are going to do that is another key element. The information that you are sharing with them needs to focus on the things that would matter to them. You should be aiming to raise awareness and generate interest in your business and ultimately to create a desire in that customer to want what you are offering. Think too about the way you will deliver the message. What sort of language will you use? What methods will you use? Will you need to create promotional marketing materials? Will you use Social Networking to deliver your message? Remember too that all these elements independently require even more detailed planning and thought. In terms of marketing basics such as business cards, postcards etc to communicate with customers, Moo certainly seems to be a cost effective favourite for many.
Set goals and objectives If you don’t set any specific goals or targets, you will never be able to measure or assess how well (or not) things are going. Setting goals regarding the size of your customer base, the revenue you generate or even the nature of the services you provide are all critical elements to look at. Simply drifting along without any real overall objective in mind is far too casual an approach to take if you are really being serious about the business.
Determine your Pricing If your business is going to be profitable, spending time determining your pricing strategy is essential. You will again need to look at what your competitors charge and decide where you sit against that. Will you be cheaper deliberately or will you be more expensive because you are offering more? You also need to determine what you need to charge if your business is going to generate profit. Finding the optimum price for your product or service ought to be a key focus from the start.
Incorporate with your overall Business Plan Make sure that you integrate your Marketing Plan with your overall Business Plan and objectives. The Marketing function has to sit alongside other elements of your strategy - from the Sales and Business Development side of things through to Financing and Budgets. Also as your business and business plan develops, make sure that you review and align your Marketing Plan accordingly too.
Another handy tip? There’s a whole bunch of useful Marketing resources in our Toolkit - Go see!
Oh and if you need some affordable but tailored publicity for your startup, the Startacus Startup publicity programme might be for you.
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