A marketing plan is essentially the result of your answers to the following 10 questions:
Yet, before answering those questions, one should reflect on the importance of having a marketing plan in the first place. You see, from my experience as a business consultant, I can assure you that 85% of solo professionals and small business owners do not have a written marketing plan and the main reason for that is they don’t believe it matters.
They may think of success as something random, a matter of luck, depending upon market or economic conditions or the result of offering good products at affordable prices. In reality, this is far from true, there are thousands of suppliers of quality and reasonably priced products / services out there, getting mediocre or even poor bottom-line results.
In fact, understanding and applying the principles of marketing and consumer psychology is of critical importance to any business endeavor and proper marketing planning is the first step one should take.
A marketing plan does not have to be neither long nor complicated; actually, I believe sophisticated studies and plans are doomed to end up forgotten on the bookshelves, thus they are seldom implemented. In most cases, I believe, a 2-3 page, concise, well-thought-out and focused marketing summary suffices!
So, what are the secrets of a successful marketing plan?
First of all, as we’ve already said, to believe in marketing and that by having the right strategy you will achieve the results you desire; belief is important!
Secondly, do not try to copy others! I’ve seen hundreds of websites with similar layouts, promoting similar products, by applying similar (or even the same) marketing tactics. Ok, it does help a lot to learn from the leaders in a Market and study your competitor’s strategy; on the other hand, it is totally a mistake to imitate others! What should you do instead? Just be yourself, identify your own strengths and advantages, so that you develop your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
Thirdly, find out which market segment can you serve better as a result of your uniqueness (product + knowledge + experience + personality). In other words, define your target audience, the people who will get benefited the most out of your products or services. For instance, if you are good at delivering your products fast, emphasize this point in your marketing material, while targeting at customers with a fast-paced lifestyle (solo professionals, executives etc.) having no time to waste, and expecting to get results as soon as possible.
Finally, stop selling and start communicating with the people -audience you’re interested in! Sometimes, the urge to sell one’s products / services to reach the desired revenue goals (or just pay the bills), leads to stress and anxiety, which in turn result in ineffective marketing communication: hard selling approaches with high failure rates, sending e-mails to prospects too often thus becoming annoying and producing negative impressions, showing neediness etc.
What I recommend, is communicating with your potential clients on a regular basis, within reasonable time intervals and by providing them with high value, quality content, including articles, videos, success stories, presentations and by using all the available marketing channels such as Facebook, Instagram, e-mail marketing, live events etc.
The scope of this marketing strategy is to educate and cultivate the market before starting any sales effort, while at the same time getting your prospects to know, like, and trust you more. You see, if those preconditions are not being met, the chances of success for any subsequent sales approaches are minimal.
So, forget sales for a while and start thinking about how you can actually add value to peoples’ lives!