Marketing Planning Made Simple – Another Small Business Power Tool

Marketing planning must be really difficult and complex, otherwise why would there be so many books written on the subject … right?

Well, I’m just enough of a skeptic to believe that many of these books were designed more to make money for their publishers and authors than to make marketing planning simple and understandable.

I spent more than 30 years working with very successful small business people who never wrote a single marketing plan. Why didn’t they need complex, 100-page marketing plans chock full of statistics, charts and graphs like the experts recommend? It’s because they knew exactly where they wanted to take their companies and how to get them there and they were universally successful.

The fact is they basically carried their product “marketing plans” around in their heads. That’s how simple marketing planning can be. In fact, if you strip marketing planning down to its most basic elements, you could just about write your plan on the back of a napkin.

Okay, that might be a bit of an oversimplification, but let’s look at the six basic things you need to know for successful marketing planning.

1. The situation. Is this a new or existing product or service? If it has competition, how is it better than the competition? Bigger? Lasts longer? Easier to use? Offers more features? Priced better? You should be able to sum up your situation in a couple of sentences. If not, maybe you don’t really understand the situation.

2. The market. How big is the market for your product or service? This can be defined in terms of total dollars, number of units sold or any other quantifiable number. The important thing is to know the size of your market because only by knowing this can you define a marketing objective. You also need to define what the market looks like — Males, age 25-45? Soccer Moms? Working mothers? Seniors? Childless couples? A market isn’t just numbers, it’s people. And it’s important to understand where they are economically, what’s important to them, and what problems you can help them solve.

3. Strategy. Now that you have defined your situation and your market, it should be easy to develop a marketing strategy. For example, if your product is footless, control top panty hose, your strategy might be to “focus sales efforts on figure-conscience women age 34-45 during the spring and summer months.”

4. Tactics. If “strategy” is what you intend to do, “tactics” is what you need to do to accomplish it. In the case of the strategy example above, the tactics might be:

- Begin sales efforts against distributors by Feb. 1

- Have products in distribution pipeline by March 1 for delivery to retailers no later than April 1.

- Begin concentrated radio advertising in 12 key markets by April 15 …and so on

5. Objective(s). You can frame your objectives any way you want but you have to assign a number and a date. It’s no enough to say, “Successfully introduce the new product by year’s end.” In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up somewhere else.” If you don’t include a number and a time, you will never know whether or not you were really successful. Write objectives like “sell 5,000 units by December 31.” Then, on January 1, you can count sales and determine how successful you were. Best case, you will find you sold 5,000 or more units and will know your marketing planning was right on. And if you didn’t meet the objective? You should be able to at least learn a lesson and do better next time.

6. Budgeting. The final thing you need to consider is how much money you can spend to meet your objective. The best way to do this is break down your budgeting by tactics. If you need to reach 100,000 women to sell 10,000 units of your product, do you have the money to do this – in terms or radio, newspaper, TV or direct mail? Do you need collateral materials such as brochures or in-store displays? How much will these things cost? Depending on your product or service, you may also have to hire a PR firm or an advertising agency. Be sure to budget for this expense.

Can you add more elements to your planning? Of course. Just go buy one of these marketing textbooks and you’ll find pages and pages of information that could be incorporated into your plan. The point here is that maybe you don’t have to make your marketing planning a huge and laborious project. Do what many of my clients have done – keep it simple, something you can just carry around in your head if that’s your style. The important things are your situation, your market, your strategy and tactics, your objective and your budget. Know these things and you’re well on your way to success.

Newbie Article Writers Develop an Internet Marketing Plan

Most new article marketers start on the fly without any internet marketing plan. This short article will guide you to ask yourself a few questions to help you develop a plan.

Newbie article writers does this sound familiar:

  • “Well, the first thing you have to do is find a product. No wait, you have to determine who it is that you are going to sell to. Find out who your customers are.”
  • “No, you have to find a niche first. What are you passionate about?”
  • “And don’t forget, you need a Domain Name Server (DNS) for your domain name and a hosting service to host the domain. You need a website. No, no, wait, you don’t even need to have a website.”
  • One other thing, “You need traffic. So, you have to socialize, tweet, bookmark, and post at forums. And, oh yes, there are some other marketing methods to consider, but we will visit them later.”

Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Have you experienced this? I have. It is very frustrating. Your brain is attacked. It is overrun by guru advice and overwhelming amounts of information.

Hitting the Target

Imagine being a novice target shooter. You have never done it before. At first, you try a bow and arrow. After a few attempts, you come close to hitting the bull’s-eye, but not quite.

A friend offers you a slingshot. You try that. Another friend interrupts your shooting and offers you a pistol. You try that. Still another friend says,”No, you need a rifle, try this.”

Get the picture? It sounds not too unlike newbie article writers stumbling through the maze of guru advice.

Anyone of those weapons can hit the target. It takes focus (effort), consistency (a plan), and practice (work). Once you have hit the target with one, you can try a new weapon.

So what is the best way to do article marketing? There is no one way to do article marketing. Nevertheless, like any other business venture you should have a plan, a map, to make money writing articles online.

Effort, Planning, Work

Read many of the guru sales pages and most of them promise you unbelievable sums of income. While many of those incomes may be real, those sales pages fail to tell you the back story.

It takes effort, a plan, and work to make money writing articles online. It’s a business. It takes focus, consistency, and practice. Nothing you don’t already know.

Develop an Internet Marketing Plan

Starting an internet marketing business is easy. Anyone can do it. Why, then, do 95% of those Internet marketing hopefuls fail to make money with their home based internet marketing business?

Some will say that it is because of our need for instant gratification. We want to make money and we want to make it now.

That may well be part of the story, but I think the reason is just a bit more unimaginative and a bit more practical. Would you start a business without a plan? Well, you might, but it would be ill advised and probably doomed to failure.

Let us call it a marketing plan. An internet marketing plan is the big picture.

  • What product or niche offer you the best chance of profitability?
  • How much money, time, effort are you willing to spend promoting your product or service?
  • How much competition do you have?
  • Are a blog, website, or squeeze page best suited for your product promotion?
  • How will you distribute articles: ezines, article directories, blogs, offline?

These are just a few questions you should ask yourself.

Home Based Internet Marketing Business

The beauty of writing for the web for profit is that you can work at home. You have no payroll, no inventory, and in some cases, no customer interface. Online writing is a perfect home based business, but it needs an internet marketing plan.

With a road map, a plan, you can maneuver through the maze of guru mumbo-jumbo. You contribute the focus and the work, follow the plan (be consistent) and you will be on your way to making money. Not to mention, enjoying the pride of owning your own home based internet marketing business.

5 Reasons NOT To Have a Marketing Plan

Imagine your perfect customers — the ones that will eagerly buy your products or hire you for premium pay. Imagine being able to bring those perfect customers to you and having them buy your products or services not once, but again and again. That’s what an effectively executed marketing plan does. It reaches the people who want what you are offering, convinces them to take action, and keeps them coming back.

Sounds nice, right? So why doesn’t every business have a marketing plan? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons you may not:

1. “We had a marketing plan once, but it didn’t work. It isn’t worth the time to put one together.”

No marketing plan will work if you do not work the plan. The planning document is there for business managers to use as a strategic reference throughout the year, as programs in the plan are executed and as other opportunities come along. Any marketing plan that is filed away and forgotten as soon as it’s written is useless.

2. “So-and-so had a marketing plan and it didn’t help his business at all!”

Marketing is a process, not a singular event. A marketing plan is only the first step in that process. It points your business in the right direction by detailing marketing strategies and programs that will move you toward business objectives.

You must execute the programs in your plan so that you can evaluate program success. Rarely does a marketing program work best on the first try. It is up to you to analyze barriers to success, then tweak and tinker until you are getting positive results. If you ignore critical follow-up, most of your marketing programs — whether you have a marketing plan or not — will fail or fall short of their potential for success.

3. “Marketing planning is too hard.”

Writing a marketing plan doesn’t have to be complicated. There are different levels of planning. More intricate marketing planning processes will result in more refined strategies, with better potential for success. But, if you have limited resources, a top-line approach to planning is much better than none at all.

4. “We don’t know how to write a marketing plan.”

There are numerous books, software, “toolbox” resources, and articles that take you step-by-step through the process of creating a marketing plan. Frankly, not knowing how is an excuse, not a reason, to avoid marketing planning.

5. “My business is too small for a marketing plan.”

Sound marketing strategy is critical to small business success, especially new businesses. Statistics vary widely depending on the source, but most reports cite failure rates for small business at 65% — 90%. Knowing ahead of time how you will compete and how you will succeed in your marketplace can dramatically increase your chances of success.

Your marketing plan is a vital key to small business success. If you do not have a current plan, start one today. Your company’s livelihood depends on it.