No matter if you’re business is struggling or thriving–you must never stop marketing. Many business owners make the mistake of thinking that they should only market while they are trying to grow their business. But to keep business steadily growing, you must never stop marketing no matter what. This is why all business truly need a marketing plan.
It is best to come up with a marketing plan that you can use for the next 6-12 months. After this time span, you should update it or write a completely new plan. When you do write your plan, include these elements into it…
1. Market research. Know who you’re potential customers are, where they are located, they’re general income, where they usually shop (so you can know who your competitors are), etc. You also need to know what you’re customers truly desire from a company like yours. Never get so confident in your services that you end up not serving your customers correctly because you think you already have it all figured out.There is always room for improvement for every business. There are lots of small and large companies that managed to have great success because they knew exactly what they’re customers wanted, and they delivered every time. The more you know about your potential customers, the better you will be able to serve them.
2. Advertising & Promoting. Once you’ve recorded all the information from market researching, it’s time to come up with ways to reach out to these potential customers. You can reach out to them in several ways such as online, mail, business cards, flyers, etc. Choose ways that are most suitable for your particular business. If you have conducted your market research correctly, you will know what ways are best to connect with your customers. You can also check out How to Develop Winning Advertisements . It’s a great article with 5 marketing ideas on how you can reach out to your potential customers.
3. Public Relations. It’s a good idea to get out there and interact with potential customers. You and your employees (if you have any) should come up with ways to get face to face with potential customers. It’s all networking –building rapport with potential customers so that they can make a personal connection with you and your business.
4. Product development. I like to think that there is always room for improvement. Take a look at your product or service and ask yourself, “Is there any way I can make this better?” Chances are you will find something about your product or service that you think is worth improving. You can also get together with your team members so they can help you brainstorm ideas on how to improve or what to improve on. You may want to do this at least every 6 months to a year so that your products and services will always be fresh and new.
5. Packaging & Distribution. Along with improving your product, you might find that improving the packaging is necessary as well. The two usually go hand in hand. But more importantly, you must know how you are going to get these products in the hands of your customers. There are a few options to selling them such as in store, through catalogs, and online. But you have to also consider the cost of these methods. Producing catalogs and websites costs a few dollars, and shipping the items also costs. So consider these methods and choose which ones are more beneficial to your particular business.
6. Sales. This is the fun part. You and your team will now get together and come up with strategies to get sales. You can get some ideas by reading Small Business Marketing for Dummies. It’s a very informative book that changed the way I personally do business. Just remember that sales is the lifeline of your business. You’re business cannot survive without it, so please take this part of your plan very seriously. You can also read this short article, Secrets of Sales Success Pt. 1: 4 Easy Steps to Closing the Sale, for more tips.
7. Business Maintenance. This is the finishing touch. You must come up with ways to keep that customer interested in your business. You can use some of your old tactics, but try to come up with new ones as well. And always remember that great customer service cannot be beaten. The easiest way to have customers coming back is to provide great customer service.
The most important steps in your marketing plan will be getting the word out about your business, getting that sale, and getting that customer to come back again and again. You can gather your whole team of employees together so that all of you can brainstorm new ways to improve your business. A marketing plan is important to your business’ cash flow. Your business could be in trouble without one. Once you get your plan together, you’ll see a difference in how you and your employees conduct your business, and how much money your business begins to bring in. Good luck.
For more information on how to write a marketing plan, read Small Business Marketing for Dummies by Barbara Findlay Shenck.