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A 7 Point Marketing Plan

 

Marketing is essentially about acquiring and retaining customers. Marketing can be as simple or as complex as you’d like to make it, but every business should have a marketing plan of some sort. Here’s a simple way of covering the seven basic elements of a marketing plan.

Describe the market in which you trade

How well do you really know your own market? A basic understanding is critical to developing an effective sales strategy.

Who are the key players? You should know the major suppliers and the bigger customers. You should know who’s leading the way and who’s falling behind.

Is your market growing or contracting? You need to know if it’s going places or heading for tough times. You also need to keep up with the major developments in your market both at home and overseas. Your market is the environment in which your business lives. Unless you really know your market you’re not going to be able to grow when it grows or protect yourself when it gets into trouble.

Identify your competitors – current and future

You need to identify and understand your competitors so you can compare what they offer with what you’re offering. You need to watch them so you know if something new is happening in your line of business that you haven’t yet heard about. You also need to know their strengths and weaknesses so you can do it better and increase your customer base at their expense.

And because change is a part of every aspect of life these days, consider too who might compete with you in the future even though they mightn’t be currently.

Understand your customer’s needs

The most successful businesses today are those that get to really know their customers and deliver what they want. They also spend a lot of time making sure that their customers have satisfying experiences at every touchpoint with their business.

The same thing goes for those whom you want as customers. You need to know them as well as the ones you already have so you can package what it is they want and be able to give it to them. Products don’t sell on just price and quality – customers are going to estimate the value they’ll get on a number of things and you need to know what they consider important.

Develop a pricing strategy

Your pricing strategy has to meet two important requirements – it must appeal to your customers and it has to be profitable for your business. You have to know what your real costs are before you can set a price on what it is you’re selling. That’s not just the simple costs of making and selling it, but the total basket of costs including a fair share of your overheads and an allowance for yourself.

Remember when setting prices that people usually shop around before making their final decision. You don’t have to be the cheapest, in fact you shouldn’t be, but it certainly pays to be at least a bit under the top of the market unless you’ve got a product that’s a world-beater. Regularly survey the market so that you know what the range of prices for your product is. Choose a price point that suits the customers that are already buying from you and will also appeal to those you’d like to acquire.

Developing customer relationships

Among the things customers see as valuable is the sort of experience they have in dealing with a business. Relationships have to be designed for specific groups of customers, then the business structured in such a way that the desired relationships are created and maintained. Part of successful marketing is knowing just what these relationships should be and being able to create them.

Think about your customers with the intention of developing relationships with them. It’s a lot different from just trying to think of how to sell them something, and in the longer-term it’s going to work much better for you.

Acquiring new customers

Do you actively go out and look for new business or are you just waiting for it to walk in the door? Are you really aware of what your prospective customers want that will make them buy from you? Do you know how to reach them and what sort of message will encourage them to buy? These are critical questions you have to answer as part of your marketing. Customers’ requirements change and you need to keep up with those changes. Customer acquisition is an important element of any business and it has to receive its fair share of attention or your customer base will eventually wither away.

Market in the right places

Always develop your marketing communications with your customers in mind – where do they look when they want information about a product like yours? Which of them will provide a good return on investment for you?

These seven elements of marketing are already part of your business. You’re already doing marketing each time you set a price or check what your competitors are charging for what they sell. The most critical part of each of these is to make sure it works as well as it possibly can and is always targeted at delivering what the customer wants from you. Happy marketing!

Until next week,
Mike Reddy
www.syb.com.au