Archive for marketing plan
Today I want to dive into a pretty BIG question… What Is Marketing?
The reason I want to explore this is because it’s a question I believe people want to ask, but are often afraid to ask when in a group or when talking to a marketing ‘expert’. Heck, it could be embarrassing, right?
There was a time, some years ago, when I didn’t understand or know what marketing was… I confused sales, PR and marketing and really didn’t understand how the different parts fit together, never mind how they fit in my business.
So, for anyone who really wants to know, “What is marketing?” Let’s dig in… we’ll do this in 3 parts. :- )
The first part, which we’ll cover today, is the overall picture of the activity of ‘marketing’.
According to Merriam-Webster.com, this is the primary definition of marketing: the activities that are involved in making people aware of a company’s products, making sure that the products are available to be bought, etc.
The secondary definitions add a bit to it, so I’ll include them as well:
1a : the act or process of selling or purchasing in a market
1b : the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service
2: an aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer
What does all this tell us? Basically, marketing is any activity that gets the word out about your product or service or helps people to make a purchase of your goods.
So, by definition, it makes sense that I was once confused (and you might be too) about what fits under the umbrella of marketing. Basically – it’s ALL the activities – which means ‘Marketing’ includes PR, it includes sales, and it includes the typical activities most people label as ‘marketing’ – things like advertising, social media, pamphlets, business cards, networking and much, much more.
Now, I do separate PR, Sales and Marketing into 3 sub-categories for marketing as it makes understanding each area much easier, and it has helped me and my clients figure out what areas to place focus as we grow our businesses.
To me, PR, or public relations, is the process of getting ‘editorial’ style coverage for you, your business, product or service. Meaning, someone else is saying things about you to their audience… often, that makes it a VERY valuable piece of the overall promotion and marketing puzzle. Without a doubt it’s one of the things that needs to go into your marketing plan.
And, to me, sales is the process of helping someone determine if you, your product or service is the right fit for what they want or need. Without the sales process, you could do all the marketing and PR you want and you might not ever have money flow into your business. It’s the final step in the marketing process and deserves a great deal of your attention.
Finally, ‘Marketing’ as I’m defining it here are all the activities you do to make people aware of your business, products and services. As I mentioned – everything from advertising to business cards fits into this category – and in order to have a successful business, you’ll need to have a whole SLEW of marketing strategies in place and working for your business to grow.
In the next post we’ll dig more into the question, “What is marketing,” by looking deeper into all the different marketing strategies you can consider as you build out your marketing plan and your business.
So, what goes into your marketing plan?
Today I want to talk about the marketing funnel that goes into your marketing plan.
Your marketing funnel is generally a visual representation of the steps and stages a potential client (and then client) can travel through your business. It’s often pictured as a funnel (as in this picture below), or turned around the other way, making a pyramid shape.
At the top of the funnel is where you would have any free offers you are putting out to the world. You want to remember, as you put out those offers, they need to be very enticing and they need to connect deeply with one of the bigger wants and needs (if you can do both, all the better) of your target market. You also want to make sure that you are truly serving people – giving them some of your very best stuff. This is your chance to make a stellar impression, so don’t cheap out on this.
The next step in the funnel is something that is also easily accessible, so it may be a well-priced offer that gives a lot of great support and information as well. It lets people try you out in another way and begin to wade into the waters, without having to commit to something huge, or dive right in – which most people are just not ready or willing to do.
On occasion, someone will be ready, though, so you want to make sure that this funnel isn’t a requirement – it’s not set up like pre-requisite courses in college. You don’t HAVE to go through the 101 level to decide you want to dive into the deep end and go big. If you have someone who loves your work and they’re ready for the whole kit-and-caboodle, then let them go for it, and give them an awesome experience.
In the next level, you step things up a notch – both from the standpoint of the level of investment and the level of time and service involved. People that reach this stage have often invested before, they’ve tried you out and they’re ready to go into the waste deep water now. They’re making a commitment.
Then, as you continue to flow downward, you add premium offerings. As the funnel suggests, a smaller number of people will trickle down to that level, but it’s ok. The people that do are your best customers. These are the ones who are generally raving fans (there can be some at every level, but these folks are deeply invested in your products and services).
The idea behind this piece of your marketing plan is that once you get someone who is interested in you and what you offer, you want to make sure you continue to serve them in multiple ways. You want to find out as much as you can about what they want and what they need solved, and you want to create and offer products and services that give them what they want.
When you do, your business has depth, and you can build long-term relationships with your clients, giving them more of what they want, and in turn, building a business that grows and thrives.
Here’s a question I get all the time…
People ask, “What is a marketing plan and why is it important… is it like a business plan? Do I have to create one? What goes in it?”
I don’t even get to answer before there are about 5 more questions added on the end… it’s something people understand is important, but they don’t know enough about it to even decide if they want to learn more.
What Is A Marketing Plan
A marketing plan is basically a way to lay out (to plan) the marketing for your business, your products, and/or your services. It covers everything from information about your target market to specific step-by-step processes you will use to build certain marketing systems and strategies.
It is a document that helps to guide you while you build your marketing, it helps you stay on track to building a more successful business, and it helps you focus your attention on your marketing – which can be a pretty hard for many people.
A marketing plan, the way I help my clients build them, is for internal use within your business, and serves as a map to help you and your team get to the destination you’ve chosen for your business.
Why Is A Marketing Plan Important
Frankly, marketing is one of the single most important places you can focus your attention in your business. Particularly if you hope to create a successful business. Marketing equals money,when it is done right, and most businesses don’t put nearly enough attention on their marketing planning process, or on their marketing.
That means that creating a solid marketing plan that can help guide you throughout the year, and help you stay focused on building the systems you determined, would support your business growth the way you want it to go. It is one of the best ways to assure your success.
Marketing is challenging for most people, until they learn more about it and have some successful experiences… then they often become ‘converts’ and start singing the praises of marketing. Until then (which can take a little while) having a plan or a guide can make all the difference between focusing on the things that will create income and bring in customers, and the things that are perhaps easier to do, but that won’t have the same level of impact.
So, what is a marketing plan and why is it important? The bottom line is it is a guide to building a successful business, and it’s important because without one, you can get hopelessly lost and never reach your destination which in this case, is a level of success with your business that makes you happy.
And, speaking of marketing plans… we’re going to be talking about them and several other key tips to having marketing that really works to bring in the clients and increase your bottom line on my next webinar. If you’re interested, you can register for it here.
(Nope. Pic has nothing to do with the topic. Just pretty… and maybe it will make you feel better after you read all the things that should be in a marketing plan… ;- ) )
I get the question, “What should be in a marketing plan?”, all the time…
Entrepreneurs understand that they will grow more reliably and effectively if they have a marketing plan (and a marketing calendar, along with a few other key pieces), but they really don’t know what belongs in one.
So, let’s talk about what should be in a marketing plan.
1. The Basics
The first pieces you want to include in your marketing plan are the basics. You want to get super clear on your target market, your ideal customer or client, and the message you are conveying to them. This information serves as a reminder to always focus your marketing efforts toward the people you want to reach and to always keep your primary message in mind as you draft different types of marketing.
This section also needs to include your goals. It can be helpful to have not just your overarching business goals here, but also short and long term business and marketing goals. These can include anything from very strategic pieces to very tactical pieces.
These are the pieces that will help you stay motivated and keep you on track.
2. Differentiators, Core Strategy & Brand Strategy
This is where you will get clear on what is known as your USP – your Unique Selling Proposition. This is the thing that makes you different, that helps you stand out from competitors, and will make you memorable to potential clients.
Here you will also include the core strategy behind the work that you and your business does as well as your brand strategy and how it will help to set you apart. It will also include elements like your story and how you relate to your ideal clients.
3. The Guts
This is where we start to get into the nitty-gritty of what should be in a marketing plan.
This section can vary depending on you and your business, but generally will include some or all of the following:
- Features & Benefits
- Marketing Materials
- Web/Online Strategy
- Lead Generation Strategy & Plan
- Lead Conversion Plan
- Referral Plan
- Customer Service Plan
- JV Plan
- Marketing Funnel
- Continuity Program
- Frequent Buyer/Rewards Program
- PR Strategy
- Marketing Calendar
- and more…
4. The Final Pieces
The final pieces that belong in your marketing plan include your testing and tracking systems for key metrics you will watch, your budget information, and any forecasts for your business that are related to your marketing (like your sales forecasts).
As you dig into what should be in your marketing plan, it’s important to understand that as you start out you may not need or want to include all of these pieces in your plan. This can be overwhelming, and therefore, end up counter-productive to your overall process. Your marketing plan should support you, help you to stay on track, and help to keep you accountable to yourself and anyone else who may be involved in your business.
If taking on all of these pieces is too much at the beginning, pick a few sections that will support you now and begin to work with them, setting an appointment in your calendar to re-visit the pieces and work on incorporating more on a monthly or quarterly basis until you have all the bases covered.
And, if you are curious about how to figure out what should go into YOUR marketing plan, check out my upcoming Marketing in the Morning™ webinar here. It’s free and I’m going to be sharing some of my BEST TIPS on making your marketing work – for you and for your bottom line. Don’t miss it – sign up here.
Another question that comes up often in my teleseminars from a variety of different entrepreneurs is, “How can you succeed in marketing?”
The answer includes many things, but the top two in my mind…
First: Constant education for ‘do it yourself marketing’ and
Second: Constant implementation
Education: There are so many excellent books on marketing, if you don’t want to spend a bunch of money building a marketing library, go to your local library and get the books that seem appropriate. Some of the best include Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples, Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins, books by Joe Sugarman and Dan Kennedy. Consider investing in your education – sign up for an online course, or a course at your local college. Again, if you aren’t sure which course would be good for you, I have taken many, so may be able to recommend something that would be the right fit for you. Also, I am putting together a marketing essentials ‘A-Z’ course – a compilation of things I’ve absorbed from seminars, books, mentors and experience – putting it together in a way that I’ve not been able to find in one place – a real foundation in the essentials of marketing for small businesses. If you stay on my mailing list you will find out about it when it is ready to launch in the fall.
The first step, as we discussed at the beginning, is to define your target market, develop your niche and create your targeted message, clearly identify your USP etc. Then you can begin to get your message out there through many low-cost and free options. Don’t skimp on the first part though – your success hinges on knowing your target market and knowing how to talk to them. Get really clear on this stuff by going through the exercises, even if they are tough. Then get started on trying different things, testing them, seeing what works. Taking action – implementing what you learn – is ultimately the only thing that will create ‘success’ for you in marketing.