Do you have a 2014 marketing plan documented for your small business? Do you know what you will do different this coming year to improve your marketing strategy?
It’s not too early to have a plan in place for how your business will market itself in 2014. In fact, now is the time to be making choices and figuring out how your business will hit the ground running come January 1.
Whether you have a marketing plan for 2014 in writing or it is understood as general knowledge, there are five core marketing planning questions you should be able to answer cold. They are:
- “Why are you in business?” as well as “what core problem are you solving for your customers?” Can you clearly explain in one sentence what you do and how customers will benefit? Does your marketing convey these points consistently?
- Can you define 1-2 groups of target customers in order of priority, based on which are most profitable and most easily reached? When you know the demographics, behaviors, likes/dislikes of your potential prospects, it’s a lot easier to understand what paths to reach them and what message to convey to them. This can help get better results, not to mention attract more profitable customers.
- Do you really know who your competitors are? How you define your competition may vary depending on the circumstances. For example, if you are a bricks and mortar retailer you may have a competitor right down the street. However, if you also have an ecommerce part of your business, your competition might be more national than local, and based on where different websites rank for your target keywords. Before you answer the question “who is my competition?” think about the different ways you can first define your competitors. Then make a list of your competition based on the distribution or marketing channel you plan to use. Make a plan for how you will outperform each one and link it to specific actions you will take with a timeline.
- Can you articulate concisely how you are different than other companies? Can you do it in a way that makes an impact on a prospect such that they are more likely to take a desired action? Are the ways you differ from other companies important and essential to your audience? Are you conveying the message of what separates you from competitors effectively? Only being different is not enough. It’s important to be different in a way that others care about.
- Can you commit to a budget? Many companies have a plan and no budget. Ideas are great. But brilliant ideas that cannot be practically executed collect dust. It’s important to look at your finances, discuss with your accountant, and make a budget for your marketing, both annually and monthly. A reputable marketing company will help you design a marketing program that meets your budget while maximizing results.
Now that you know what sets your brand apart and what you are going to say to a specific audience, determine which marketing channels are best to reach your audience and figure out how you will get them to take a desired action.
Map out what you will accomplish by month, from month 1 through month 12 and list all of the resources and staffing that need to be in place to accomplish those goals. Make staff accountable. Put a monthly budget together and make your plan as concrete as possible. Create mini marketing plans for parts of your marketing plan. For example, do you have a social media strategy mapped out? An SEO strategy? A plan for your traditional marketing strategies?
If you do all of these things you will be on the right path. Get to work on this TODAY! You will thank yourself later.
Best of luck as we head towards 2014!
[And remember, it’s true: “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin]
For more information, contact upsidebusiness.com at (516) 610-0922.