Your Business Plan’s Effect on Marketing

In our last post from yesterday (click here) we discussed creating a simple business plan, today we will examine your Business Plan’s effect on marketing and advertising your business.  While your business plan should be your roadmap to how you will grow your business, steps you will take, your goals and guide you when you lose focus.  Your business plan’s effect on marketing, specifically, HOW you market your business is just as important.

Who IS Your Target Market

During your planning session, one of the most important things you need to do is figure out who your demographic or who your target market is.  Who are they, what age group do they represent, male or female, level of education, current lifestyle, income, hobbies, what they are likely to need or search for, what are their buying habits, what are there habits,  are they a homeowner, where do they hang out and more. You must determine, with as much clarity as you can, who your target audience is and what they are about.  Your marketing plan will be won or lost, right here!  There are many ways to determine who your target audience is, but start with what you know first.  For instance, if you are selling an exclusive line of diaper bags, a 60 year old woman nearing retirement isn’t your likely target, the majority of your target audience will be between 20-35 years old, some college plus, married, etc.  You likely wouldn’t have thought up your business plan without figuring this out to some degree, but now, dig deeper.  Check out websites like www.socialmention.com or do a google search about the target market you want to appeal to.  Make sure to do you research before as part of your business planning.  I cannot stress enough the importance of learning your target market well.

Don’t Try To Be All Things To All People

Amazon and Walmart didn’t start out as the company giants we see today, they chose a target to focus on.  Each of these companies had a specific focus, Amazon started as just a lowly book seller and now they sell everything, Walmart catered to smaller communities where there was little opportunity for lower priced competition.  The process of honing in on your target audience, done correctly (and saving you money in the meantime), is directly connected to the success you will have as a small business.  You DO NOT want to try to be all things to all people!  If you aren’t narrowing your focus to one specific market or demographic you will waste all kinds of time and money in your advertising.  It’s been said that if you don’t know who you are speaking to, then you are speaking to no one!  “That means you can’t be afraid to exclude certain types of consumer from your marketing or to target your advertising at small groups. Some customers will feel left out, but those are the sacrifices necessary for a successful business, says Greg Head, founder and CEO of New Avenue, a strategic marketing firm.”

Why Branding

Your particular focus in the marketplace will determine how, where and what medium you utilize to get noticed by your target audience, it’s known as branding.  When you are “branding” your business, keep in mind who that target customer is and what design elements will appeal to them.  Branding is the second important step in your marketing plan.  You want your “brand” to speak to your target market.  For instance, in my pest control business, my tagline in all my yellow page advertising is “Old Fashioned Work Ethic & Integrity”.  Why?  My target audience is female, 40+ and a homeowner AND they will likely still be looking in the yellow page directories.  BUT, more than half of them will search for me online too…..so I focus on lots of information that is warm, friendly, trustworthy, local appeal and open or transparent.  When people call me, they feel comfortable speaking to me like an old friend (exactly what I’m looking for)!  Because I’m a female who owns a pest control company, I can have an added appeal to my target audience, by branding myself properly.

How To Develop Your Marketing Plan

Just as your business plan is a roadmap to success, your marketing plan is the engine that will get your  there.  A marketing plan will be your written plan of action and will be another tool in running your business.  You will decide which marketing ideas will work best for your particular business.  You don’t want to waste precious time or money by trying too many different marketing approaches at once and then not knowing, for sure, what will work.  It used to be that marketing was limited to putting a sign in the window of your business, now the choices are more varied than the businesses themselves.  Marketing tools can be flyers, paid advertising in print media or online, radio, television, business cards, public speaking, direct mail, contests, referral, developing relationships with other  business owners, auto-responders, service organizations, newsletters….I could go on, but you get the idea.  You just cannot choose to do all these mediums for your business, nor would you want to, your target market doesn’t respond to all of these methods.  So your marketing plan must be directed at your target market, specifically.

Retain Your Customers

Lastly, your marketing plan should also include information on how you plan to retain your customers after the sale.  After someone becomes a customer, what can you do to keep their return business.  I encourage everyone, no matter what the business, to find a way to collect your customer’s name and address or email address.  This list becomes an invaluable part of the assets of your business and can be used to announce sales, give customer only freebies, keep contact by newsletter, or offer other sales opportunities (perhaps you add a new line to your products).  Your list represents your relationship with your customers and can grow as your business grows and then, if you decide to expand into other areas, your customers can receive the new offerings.  If you plan to grow your business, plan to retain your customers!

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