Why do I need a Marketing Plan? (and why should I care?)

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Mushroom Souffle marketing-planA Marketing Plan sounds like yet another thing to add to the never ending to do list as a business owner doesn’t it? However, what if Sarah Crowther, Marketing Expert, was to tell you that creating one would not only save you time, but money as well?!

 

2 Very Different Ways to Conduct Marketing

1. With a Marketing Plan – the benefits
  • Structure – you know what’s happening and when
  • Measure Progress – you know what’s working and what isn’t
  • Customers – they are enjoying content you’ve shared and are engaging with you
  • Budgeted – you know how much you can afford to spend to win a new customer
  • Consistency – marketing activity no longer falls to the bottom of your list
  • In Control – you feel confident about the time you spend on marketing
2. Without a Marketing Plan – there are no benefits!

For me Social Media fits into the category of “yet another shiny new thing”. Now don’t misunderstand me, Social Media can be very powerful however if it isn’t part of your marketing plan and therefore doesn’t form part of your marketing strategy, it is just a (fun) way of killing time. If that’s all you ever want it to be then please just keep on going without a plan. If you would like to know how to integrate Social Media into your marketing plan and strategy so that it really starts to work for you then read on!

 

Why Bother with a Marketing Plan

To create a wonderful plan full of marketing activities we need to be able to answer a few questions first – believe it or not the answers to these questions make up your marketing strategy! Once you know the answers to the questions below you are ready to create your marketing plan. If you’re wondering why answering these questions makes any difference then take a look at the two scenarios below…

Scenario 1

Jane runs a small accountancy firm in Oxfordshire. She is looking to expand her business throughout the UK. Her ideal clients are large corporations and therefore she charges accordingly. As such she can afford to spend a reasonable amount of money on marketing activities to win each new client. The decision makers within the large corporations spend a lot of time at industry events and Jane has a dedicated marketing person within her team. Jane’s existing customers love her firm because of its high levels of customer service and attention to detail which they just weren’t getting from larger accountancy firms.

Scenario 2

Bob runs a small furniture business in Oxfordshire. He has one store and also sells online via his website. He is looking to grow his business within Oxfordshire. His ideal clients are homeowners aged 40+ who value high quality handmade furniture. Bob sells his furniture at a premium price due to the length of time it takes him to craft each item. Bob has one employee who helps him manage the store whilst Bob spends most of his time in the workshop. As such he has a small amount of money but not a lot of time to spend on marketing. Bob’s existing customers love him because of his original, tasteful and beautiful designs as well as his friendly, welcoming store and website.

Would you suggest that Bob and Jane should follow the same marketing plan with the same activities even though their businesses, customers and what they are trying to achieve are very different? In case you were wondering the answer to this is no!

 

Defining your Marketing Strategy

1. What is the purpose of your business? Why do you do what you do? What does success look like for you? How many customers do you need to generate to get your business to work?
2. Who are your ideal customers (please try to keep this to a maximum of 5)? What do you know about them?
3. What problem of theirs does your product or service solve? Why is it specifically suited for their needs? This will help you to work out why they purchase your product or service as well as what content you could share that they would be interested in.
4. Where are these lovely potential customers? What do they like to spend their time doing?
5. What price have you decided to charge for your product or service? How much can you afford to spend on winning each new customer?
6. How much time do you have to dedicate to marketing activities?

So going back to your own marketing strategy, you now know who your customers are, where they are, how you can help them, how many you need to generate for your business to work and how much time and money you can afford to spend on marketing to win each one. One more step before we create that plan, we need to create some SMART objectives.

 

Mushroom Souffle - SMART marketing objectivesCreating SMART objectives

Step 1

Take whatever success looks like for your business and break it down into 3 or more objectives, here are some examples to get you started:
• Generate X number of new enquiries per month.
• Generate X number of contacts for my mailing list (in exchange for a free downloadable ebook) by X date.
• Convert X number of leads into sales per month.

Step 2

Now is the time to open up that spreadsheet and start listing the appropriate channels along with the activities that you have identified to attract your ideal customers. For example one of the ways in which you may promote that free ebook you have decided to create could be through Twitter (if this is somewhere you have identified that your potential customers like to hang out).

Step 3

Based on your budget and time you have available you now need to prioritise. Pick a few things to start off with first, maybe one hard and two easy activities just to help keep you motivated, allocate time within the next 3 months to execute these and measure your progress. Add and remove activities based on which are delivering results and which aren’t.

 

Stay Motivated

You may be thinking that the above sounds like a lot of effort – I agree that it will take a bit of brain power and time but ultimately I can guarantee that any marketing conducted without going through the above process is a complete waste of your time and money. If you’re struggling on how to begin with creating your marketing strategy, feel free to get in touch, I’d love to help!

Sarah Crowther, Marketing Expert

 

This is a guest blog by Sarah Crowther, Marketing Expert.

Sarah Crowther is a strong believer in the art of the possible. She uses her knowledge, experience, and sparkly personality to provide marketing strategy support and advice to sole traders and small businesses.