Have you long had a dream to run your own business?
Me too……You’ve procrastinated long enough and finally you’ve taken the huge step, moved out of your comfort zone and set up your company, built a website [maybe], got yourself premises [possibly] and yet something is just not working, customers are just not coming in the door (virtual or otherwise) and you’re beginning to regret ever starting down the path of business owner.
According to The Federation of Small Business (FSB) statistics there were a record 5.4 million private sector businesses in the UK at the start of 2015. Of these, small businesses accounted for 99.3% of all private sector businesses and 99.9% were small or medium-sized (SMEs).
With Statistics like these it is ever more important to be clear on ensuring you have a marketing plan in place that is not only going to grow your business but also make you stand out from the crowd.
Here are five steps to a marketing plan that is going to blow your competition out of the water.
Ultimately this is about your business vision and your goals.
- Vision: Where do we want to be, and
- Goal setting: how to we get there? What are we going to do and when to reach the vision.
Do you know? Have you got it written down? You need to be clear on this because this is what gives you and keeps you focussed. Of course this can change and be reviewed year on year, but its so important to make sure that you have this vision written down because this is the document that means you don’t go off pursuing the next shiny object or idea. We can all be guilty of that after all. Right? So first follow these steps to creating your vision: Write these down now
What is your business?
What products do you sell
Where do you want to be in 1,3 5 years time
Can your current products and services get you there
What else do you need to do to grow?
Next (and possibly the most important step) is that you need to set the goals to achieve this vision. In his 90 Day Year Program , performance coach Todd Herman advocates that you set 90 day plans to work to
Because 90 days is much more tangible time period and the essence of a 90 day cycle is that you are accountable for checking what you are doing, adjusting the goal, seeing what worked, seeing if moved you towards you vision and carrying on.
Basically it is about deciding what to focus on, and doing it!
I started doing this about a year ago and the difference it has made to my business progress is unbelievable. I became accountable to myself and no more excuses.
Honestly, if you only do this piece you are already way ahead of the competition.
So ask yourself what goals are you setting and going to do in the next 90 days to move your business forward and help you achieve your vision?
What is your USP? Would you buy from you?
Identifying what makes you unique: This is the so what question? It’s a fact that in most, if not all, business there are a tonne of other people offering the same service. BUT none of them are you – you are unique – whether you be unique on price, experience, service, speed etc you get the picture.
What makes you different everyone else?
Would you buy it? If you wouldn’t then why would someone else?
Read Ash Ambirge’s great blog on this very subject.
Knowing who your ideal client is
If you have not done so already you need to be able to describe in detail who your ideal client is. Often referred to as client persona or avatar you need to do an exercise that describes who your ideal clients are. You can have more than one of course but you need to able to answer questions such as demographics (where do they live, what age are they, are they male/female) where do they hang out, what do they read, what are their favourite brands, what do they do in their spare time.
By detailing out your customer personas you know what makes them tick, and in turn you are able to then formulate your marketing message and positioning as to how your product or service helps them overcome whatever challenge they’re facing.
“an identifying mark burned on livestock or (especially in former times) criminals or slaves with a branding iron.”
“the brand on a sheep identifies it as mine”
synonyms: identifying mark, identification. marker
Whilst Im not suggesting you run around with a branding iron, in this ever more crowded market place, having a strong visual identity and brand is so important. You have done the hard work above already – now make sure that you visually represent this consistently and powerfully so your clients (and competition) are really clear about who you are and what you stand for. If you don’t know where to start check out two of my favourites - Sara Hart’s Brand Mapping Method and Dee Woodward who both have some great free online resources available to guide you through the brand development process.
Creating your promo plan
If you have completed the previous four steps, you can now set the promotion plan in motion. You know where you are headed, you know what products and services you are selling, and you know who are selling to and how you are visually representing yourself.
Now comes the fun part (I think). Now you are ready to actually write the promotion plan. How are you going to find these customers, how are you going to tell people about your product or service, what are you going to tell them (your marketing message) and how much money have you got to spend on this promotion.
Daniel Priestley talks about the need to 7/11/4 someone before they will buy from you. In other words they need to see you and/or your business for 7 hours with 11 touchpoints (read your blog, watch a video etc) in 4 different ways (blog, website, store, guest blog, email) before they will become a trusted friend or client.
So consider this when planning your promotion plan and you won’t go far wrong.
Review & repeat
And now we are back to the beginning. Remember earlier we talked about 90 day cycles, reviewing and adjusting as part of your 90 days plan? Well that is the final part. What you have now is a marketing plan that will set you above the competition and keep your business moving forward!
Caroline Sumners is the founder of marketing agency, Fifty One Degrees. With 18 years’ experience in marketing roles across multi-national corporations, Caroline helps SMEs to stand out in the market place with incentive travel & events planning as well as social media management and marketing consultancy. Caroline has a degree in International Relations, has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and often shares her workspace with her Miniature Schnauzer, Rufus. Access her free resource library for SMEs.