Business plans and marketing plans are inextricably linked. Without the business, there is no marketing, and with out the marketing, there is no business. Creativity is an especially essential element to the home business marketing strategy. Without the sky-high budget and well known CEOs, a small business has an up hill battle in gaining name recognition and customer respect. With a solid marketing plan, however, any business has the potential to flourish.
How to Develop a Marketing Plan
Every business needs a marketing plan if they have aspirations to succeed. While the process for developing such a plan can be easily broken down, carrying it out takes a bit more effort. There are five main steps to developing a marketing plan:
1. Figure out who your customers are going to be. Who is your target market? How many customers do you anticipate having? These questions are among the most vital in creating a successful marketing strategy.
There are a number of different ways to determine your target audience. You likely had some idea of the type of customer you wanted to serve upon the conception of the business. Seek out this population and see what they think of your product. Hold product testing forums, send out surveys, and communicate through any other means necessary to get feedback. Once you have a solid profile of your customer, you'll know how to speak their language.
2. Pinpoint where you fit into the market. Study your competition and figure out what works for them and what doesn't. It helps to begin by creating a list of your strengths and weaknesses along with your competition's strengths and weaknesses. Once these are clearly stated, you can focus on emphasizing the positives and eliminating the negatives.
3. Decide what kind of marketing you want to do and how you are going to do it. This step depends on your target audience. If they are particularly web-oriented, you'll want to do most of your advertising online. If they are big readers, a newspaper or magazine may be the best place for advertising. In our media driven society, it is hard to imagine you'll ever run out of places to market your product.
4. Create a budget. This can be one of the most challenging aspects of the marketing plan. It is here that your big dreams of having big time celebrities representing your company on primetime television commercials may die. Lucky for us, the Internet has opened a whole new world of effective marketing opportunities that cost little to nothing.
This includes constructing a business website, blog, participating in online discussions, and getting involved in article marketing. All will help you gain exposure and reach a greater number of people than any home business could do through the mail or over the phone.
5. Develop a strategy for tracking results. Marketing efforts are oftentimes hit or miss. It is important to track successes and failures in order to make modifications for your future marketing plans.
One common way to track your promotions in relation to your sales is to attach identifiable order numbers to the products placed in advertisements. For example, the SKU number for the same product may vary slightly depending on if the customer is ordering it off the website or from a postcard they received in the mail. This allows you to tell if your website or the mass postcard mailing was more effective.
The other method many companies use it to simply ask the customer where they heard about the product upon purchase. A brief survey question at the bottom of an order form will suffice. While neither strategy will be 100% accurate, they'll at least give you some idea of which marketing pieces are pulling their weight and which ones are dead weight.
You are making a wise investment for your business by following these steps to create a marketing plan. While starting a home business can be an initially stressful endeavor, if you make the right moves, it will prove to be a thrilling ride.
The author is the owner of an established plumbing business. He writes articles on consumer information / protection , business in general and home improvement.
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