Market planning is an essential task that must be continually undertaken.
There will always be shifting market conditions, changing customer needs,
and competitive threats. This means that what worked in the past may not
work in the future, thus requiring revisions in how a product is marketed.
That said, drafting your marketing plan does not mean that the information in it is 'carved in stone'. Your strategy must remain flexible to change with internal and external factors. Following key elements while drafting your marketing strategy will keep you focused and your message consistent as changes occur.
There are eight elements that your strategy must contain to succeed.
1. Real Customer - Many small businesses take on any type of customer just to make a sale and lose sight of the prospects that have the greatest potential. They approach everyone equally and hope for the best. This is a poor tactical approach which is not a growth marketing strategy. Ideally, your strategy should try to address customer needs which currently are not being met in the market place and which show adequate size and profitability. A good strategy implies that a small business cannot be all things to all people and must analyze its market and its own capabilities so as to focus on the 'real customer' it can serve best.
2. Establish Marketing Goals - If you believe you can succeed, you will eventually succeed. When you have a marketing strategy and clear set of marketing goals there will be little to stop you. This is where writing down goals is essential to the drafting of the rest of your marketing plan. If you do not know where you are going, how are you going to get there?
3. Differentiating Factors - Being unique in the marketplace is an imperative small business marketing strategy. Uniqueness can be a make-or-break element in today's business world. How do you set your small business apart? What are you offering that your competition is not and how are you delivering your product/service.
4. A Clear Target - Creating a small business marketing strategy requires you to become and expert at target marketing. The two things you are always short on are time and money. When you miss your target market you are wasting both. For your marketing to be cost effective you need to pick a target audience, or your niche, to focus on. By marketing to your target audience, who you know already have a need for your product/service, you immediately increase your campaign's likelihood of success.
5. Strong Message - Marketing is all about communication. When you communicate well, you make sales; if you cause confusion, you fail. It's that simple. Creating a strategy for a consistent marketing message is critical to your success.
6. Brand Identity - You may think that as a small business you are not big enough to need a branding strategy. Nothing can be further from the truth! Every business needs an identity that is part of a focused marketing strategy. How do you want the market and your customers to perceive you? Take this time to know your positioning in your competitive field.
7. Positioning Plan - All business battles are won and lost in the minds of your clients and prospects. They decide what is in their best interest and if your product will benefit them. The best you can do is to position yourself with your marketing strategy to be the best choice, lowest risk they have in their buying process. Ensure that your company's inside reality is the outside perception in your prospects mind.
8. Financial Projections - Show the returns on the marketing investments you plan to make, broken down by product line, for one to three years. After campaign decisions are made and implemented you need to evaluate how well they are performing. Set standards of performance and evaluate results against them.
Be aware of these marketing strategy elements as you draft your initial marketing plan but, as importantly, to update it when there are internal or external changes. Use it as your road map that will be flexible enough to adapt to your changing market.
Toni Grundstrom is a freelance writer with emphasis in marketing. With
17 years of experience he provides valuable content in all aspects of Marketing.
To receive our business newsletter and/or send your comments: