#3 of 27 Awesome Growth Hacks

Step By Step Cheat Sheets That’ll Increase Your Businesses Bottom Line.

Your 7 Step Marketing Plan

I know, from my own experience, that successful small business owners are not great planners. We tend to be “doers” which is a good thing.

The problem comes though when you start doing the wrong things and that’s why planning must play an important part in building your business.

Now, just to be clear, the rain forests need not suffer for you to create a marketing plan. You will though, have to give this considerable thought.

Step 1 - Understand Your Market & Your Competition

At one level this is really easy.

If you try to sell something that people don’t want, they won’t buy it.

People don’t buy to satisfy their needs. It’s all about “wants”.

People have got to want whatever it is that you are selling.

Understanding this properly can really unleash a huge phenomenon in your business.

You’ve really got to get inside your customer’s head to understand this.

Ask yourself questions like these:-

  • Are there segments of your market that are being underserved?
  • How much of a share of that market do I need to capture to just break even?
  • Is there too much competition in the segment of my market?
  • What weaknesses has my competition got that I can exploit and capitalise on?
  • Does my market want or value my unique competitive offering?

Essentially, what this part of your plan is all about is thinking differently about your business.

Force yourself to get out of the day-to-day rut and look at your business with fresh eyes from a different perspective.

One little tool I like to use here is to ask myself:

“If Richard Branson (or insert other aspirational business person) were running your business, what would they do?”

Step 2 - Understanding Your Customer  

Knowing your customer intimately is the first step to easy sales.

Until you know:-

  • Who your customers are,
  • What they want and,
  • What motivates them to buy

You can’t prepare an effective Marketing Plan.

Peter Drucker said, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself”.

To grow your business, you will need to increase the number of customers that you attract.

In doing this, you must not lose touch with the fact that each customer is an individual and wants to connect with another individual ...not a “business”.

For each of your key markets you should have at least one “Customer Avatars”.

It can really help to build your own Customer Avatar, so here are some questions to help you do that :-

  • What are your customer’s common fears, frustrations, pains, or urgencies?
  • What are their wants and aspirations?
  • Describe some of their common experiences and the reality as it applies to your product / service
  • Do they have common irrational fears and fantasies
  • Name and describe your Customer Avatar and bring him / her to life

In addition, other questions to ask yourself about your customers / potential customers are:-

  • How does my potential customer normally buy similar products? For instance, are you competing with other shops, or on the web, or at craft fairs, whatever?
  • Who are the primary buyer and the primary influencer in the purchasing process? For example, is it the husband or the wife? Is it a Purchasing Manager in a business? Perhaps it’s a secretary?
  • What kind of habits does my customer have? For instance, where do they get information? What papers do they read? What websites do they visit? What TV programmes do they watch? Which magazines do they buy?

Step 3 – Dominating a Niche 

If you say that your customer is “everybody” then nobody is your customer.

The marketplace is jammed packed with competition in virtually every industry and sector. The best way to “corner your market” is to CREATE your market.

By challenging yourself to look deeper into your market, to consider your customers’ individual needs and motivations and by using this information properly, you can create and then dominate your own niche business category.

The first step here is to understand what are the prospective niches or segments within your market?

The next step is to ask what is your prospective customer looking for but doesn’t perceive to be available?

Step 4 – Developing your Marketing Message   

The best reason to advertise is to have something exciting, bold, interesting and different to say and, do it in such a way that it’s structured to produce an immediate response.

To get this kind of marketing message you need to be able to answer this question: Why should a prospective customer dig into his or her pocket and spend their hard earned cash with you... as opposed to any and every other option available to them?

Your marketing message always needs to contain an offer that drives a direct response ... ALWAYS. That way you know that your marketing is focused on what’s most important – bringing you new customers to spend money with you.

Your Two Key Marketing Messages:

Your first marketing message should be short and to the point. This is sometimes called your “Elevator speech”.

The second type of marketing message is your complete marketing message that will be included, in different forms, in all of your marketing materials and promotions.

To make your marketing message compelling and persuasive you would normally include the following elements:-

  • An explanation of your target prospect’s problem - you’re talking like a customer, remember
  • Prove that the problem is so important that it should be solved now
  • An explanation about why you are the only person / business that can solve your prospect’s problem
  • An explanation of the benefits that they will receive from using your solution
  • Examples and testimonials from customers you’ve helped with similar problems
  • An explanation about prices
  • Your guarantees

Step 5 – Determine your Marketing Medium  

You can’t begin to think about media without doing all the previous steps in building your Plan.

Without understanding your Customer Avatar and what your Marketing messages are, you have no chance of making the right decisions.

Your Marketing media is simply the communication vehicle that you’re going to use to deliver your marketing message.

Success will come when you get the message, the media and the market all aligned and that’s what you need to think about – but do it with an open mind.

Step 6 – Setting your Sales & Marketing Goals   

Marketing and sales goals are critical to your success. If you haven’t written down your goals then all you’re doing is wishing and hoping for success.

Your goals should include financial elements such as sales revenue, gross profit, revenue / sales person and so on. However, they should also include non financial elements such as units sold, contracts signed, customers acquired.

Make your goals visible within the business. The more visible they are the quicker and more easily you achieve them. I don’t know why, it just seems to happen that way.

Step 7 – Your Marketing Budget   

If you have a marketing system, then marketing budgets don’t really exist.

I am not saying here that there aren’t any cash constraints – I know that there are – but look at it this way: if every time you gave me £1 I gave you £5 back, when would you stop giving me £1 coins? The answer, of course, is that you’d never stop giving me £1; you would do everything in your power to acquire more pound coins because, every time you gave me one, I gave you a five pound note back, and that’s a great return.

Marketing is like that too – particularly when you have a system that is tested, measured and successful.

It’s really important, because how you think about and handle this will have a big determining factor on the level of your ultimate success. The bigger you think, the bigger you’ll become.

To be clear, I’m not encouraging recklessness.

  • Remember, the 80/20 rule; 80% of your results will come from 20% of your efforts.

You need to be measured and thought through, but if you come across an opportunity to market your business that you believe will work then find the money to pay for it. Don’t be constrained by ‘budgets’.

So there you have it, the Seven Steps to your Marketing Plan.

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