How to Develop a Marketing Plan for Your Small Business
Marketing plays a significant role in the success of your business. You may be having the best products in the whole country but if your customers do not know the products, you are as good as not having the products in the first place.
The market has several other similar products. Thus, you will need to tell your customers that you are the best and have your products stand out of the crowd. This requires a robust marketing plan. The marketing plan provides direction to which to direct your energies and becomes a document to measure success.
Developing a marketing plan starts with the evaluation of your products and what problems they solve in your customers’ lives. You will be telling the customer to purchase the products because they can solve the problem. Marketing is all about giving value to the customers. By determining what value that you give your customer, you will know who to target and how to go about it.
Secondly, you should know who you are targeting for the product. This is the market for your products. For example, if you are selling stationery, your market could be students, offices and institutions that consume the product. Moreover, define what geographical area that you are targeting. Are you targeting customers that are in your town, nationally or globally? Do you customers buy your products occasionally, daily weekly and so on? Furthermore, what is the estimated number of customers that you may find buying your products at any given time?
After having a broad perspective of the customers that you are targeting, it is time to break them down to customers that actually buy your products. It is good to get as much information as possible about the target customers. You are not just targeting anyone. Ambiguity is likely to lead to a marketing plan that does not fit any customer profile. In the end, no one will be interested in your products.
Some of the areas that you could look into includes the average income for your customers, is it middle class, lower class or upper class customers? How much do they earn on average in a month? Are they male or female or both sexes are buying the products? Are your customers young, old or it cuts across different age groups? Are they educated? Where do they live? Are they urban or in the village? What else do they like to do with your products off the main use? Knowing your customer increases chances of making a sale or selling even more.
Now that you know who is buying you, it is time you get to know what drives them to buy from you and not your competitor. You may explain the benefits of your goods to your customers but if none of them sees the value of the products in his or her life, your marketing efforts will not lead to sales. If your products help them achieve their goals and aspirations, they will buy from you and tell others about it.
In determining the customer’s value of your product, evaluate what aspects of your product that your customers love and those that they do not. Sometimes the customers are not buying because they have negative perceptions about your products. You can work your marketing plan around changing such perceptions to create more value. You may also open up their eyes to see new uses of your product that they had not thought of.
The truth is that there are other people out there selling a product similar to yours. The competition is targeting the same potential customers like you. There is a risk that your message will be swallowed in the clutter or easily confused with your competitors’ messages.
It is good to profile your competitors and their products. How are they reaching out to the target customers? What advantage do they have over you? In the same line, look for aspects that make your products special. Why is your product better than the competition? Why should the customer buy from you and not from the competition? Do they buy your products due to their distinctive taste, affordability or good customer service?
Once you have evaluated all of the above, it is time to put down tactics based on the answers you have found out. There are several tactics that you can employ based on the target market and the product that you sell.
Start by allocating a budget for your marketing activities. Follow this up by creating the message that you would like to pass to your audience. You also have to determine what platforms you are to pass the message. You can use mass media such as newspapers, TV, radio, mobile marketing and social media among others. Finally, create a way of measuring the success of your marketing campaigns. If the marketing campaigns do not meet your goals, review the marketing plan accordingly.
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