Need to Know: The Marketing Plan
The second in our Need to Know Series, a marketing plan is essential for any Texas small business today.
Every business needs a marketing plan. Gone are the days when old fashioned dedication and hard work would put a good product or service in the black. Today’s globalized economy demands businesses target their demographic and market effectively to be successful. The marketing plan begins with detailed systematic research. The first phase of this research is detailed in our previous article Need to Know: Demographics. Market research is an invaluable tool to uncover data and to question your marketing ideas.
Start with researching and discussing the economics of your industry. You will need to answer questions such as What is the total size of the market? Current demand in the target market? Trends in the market? Growth potential and opportunity for a business of your size?
Do not be afraid to document and detail the barriers to entry you will face in entering the market. This will help your overall strategic planning on how to get your business off the ground as smoothly as possible. It will also serve to impress and assure potential investors that you have done the requisite research and have compiled the data to achieve your goals. These barriers might include: high capital/production/marketing costs. consumer acceptance, training/skills, unique technology/patents, shipping costs, or tariffs.
Next, identify your target demographic. Use the previous article for guidance. This description will include raw data sets and a narrative to paint a picture of your ideal or typical customer. Identify each group, whether differentiated by geography, age/income/class, marketing challenges, or even channels of distribution. Most of this data will have already been collected in researching your demographics.
Listing your major competitors is another important step in creating a marketing plan. You need to be well versed in the companies and products that yo directly or indirectly compete. After characterizing who and what your competition is, focus on how your product or service will compare with the competition. A full competitive analysis will be important for future strategic planning and marketing. Knowing how/why you are different and how/why that is an advantage or disadvantage will give you a stride forward on much of your competition already. This will give you a clear picture of where your business fits in the world. You can now fully define your niche, your unique space and selling point within the industry.
Finally you can reach the point of articulating your marketing strategy. The research above is a necessary step before you should even contemplate defining a marketing strategy, knowledge is power. You must create a strategy that is consistent with your businesses niche. You already know who your target is and why you are better than the competition. Now promote. Determine how you will get your business to customers. What media will your customers use? How to advertise effectively using that medium? This is where it can pay dividends to think outside the box. So what if your competition makes millions on tv. Do they reach your demographic effectively? Will other promotional methods be more effective? Trade shows, catalogs, dealer incentives, paid advertising?
Make a large master list of ideas, don’t reject anything yet. After you have spent time and as much brain energy as possible thinking of possible advertising and promotional outlets. Define how much they cost per customer. Winnow the list to ideas that are cost and customer effective. Decide what your marketing budget is and choose the most effective ideas.
After you have articulated your marketing plan, send it to trusted friends or businessmen. Their personal and professional critique can be worth many times its weight in gold. Take advantage and put as many head together, most would enjoy helping bounce ideas around for a small business. You never know, it might lead to your first customer or even an investor.
Reidel Law Firm offers specialized marketing services, building targeted and effective local advertising to boost revenue and push profits up. Take advantage of our flat fee public relations and marketing services to focus your message and reach your target demographic, growing your business and increasing profits. Call today at (832) 510-3292 or use the form below.