Your Plan For Marketing Success

The most important, yet overlooked aspect of marketing is an actual written marketing plan A business simply cannot succeed without marketing. Whether you are a one person business or have 50 employees, you simply must have a marketing plan to succeed.

Just as a business plan is a blue print for the overall success of your business, your marketing plan is the blueprint for your marketing success. Marketing without having a clear and user-friendly marketing strategy is like stringing beads without tying a knot at the end of the string. Your strategy should guide your efforts for a minimum of three years; a good plan should really last ten or more years.

The marketing plan is a plan within your business plan. In the marketing plan you must quantify the benefits your customer gets from buying your product or service. You must establish the size of your market. Also, your competition must be evaluated and assessed.

In other words, you must be customer-oriented or "market driven." Your plan should explain the benefits your product or service has to your customer, how your customer will profit or gain from product or service. Explain why your customers will buy your product over those of your competitors.

A good marketing plan should contain six sections:

1. Description of the market. Who are the customers and why will they buy your product or service?

Explain what perceived need you fill in your target market. What is your market niche? How will you position your product or service? Your positioning strategy must be elaborated in detail.

Your marketing plan must show a deep knowledge and understanding of your market. Do you know all the factors that will effect your sales? Describe in detail the background of your industry, including it's size, chief characteristics, trends, and major customers. Project any changes inside or outside your industry that will affect your business.

Don't forget to describe your prospective customers in detail, including their demographics and psychographics. Remember, businesses don't buy products or services, people do. You must understand all about those decision makers.

2. Customer benefits. What are the benefits of your product or service to the customer? In talking about benefits, you must relate them to the customer and to the competitor's products or services. Here are some of the ways to do that.

Your product or service is better than the competition's because it is: (1) cheaper, (2) better quality, (3) more efficient, (4) convenient to use, (5) has fewer rejects or breakdowns, (6) reduces the customer's labor costs, (7) lowers the customer's inventory costs, (8) improves the customer's productivity, (9) improves the customer's performance, (10) saves the customer money or time or both, (11) entertains the customer, (12) improves the customer's appearance or health, (13) solves problems, and (14) generates profits.

3. Market Share. What are your assumptions about your market share? When explaining market share, instead of just stating what percentage of the market you intent to capture, employ a bottom-up approach. Based on sales projections, using specific customers. A common mistake made by most people discussing market share is assuming they can predict sales by gathering some general numbers on the size of the market, then projecting share from there. The old statement "we only want 1% of the market" does not cut it anymore. You must explain in detail just how you will arrive at your market share. Document your assumptions with marketing research.

4. Competition. Who is your competition? Compare their products and services to yours, and outline your strategies to sell more than they do. Explain how difficult it is to compare with you.

Don't underestimate, ignore, or downplay the competition. Everybody has competition, and if you think you don't, then you obviously don't comprehend the weaknesses of what you're trying to accomplish, and you probably won't be in business for very long.

5. The sales strategy. This is one of the most critical parts of the marketing plan. You can have the greatest technology in the world but if you can't figure out how to get it into the customer's hands, you've got nothing! The world will not beat a path to your door just because you have a better product or service! You have to sell the world on buying your product or service.

If you think of marketing as strategy and selling as tactics, you have a good idea of what you should put into your plan. How are you going to get your prospects to buy your product or service? You must describe the nuts and bolts of your selling process. What is your distribution process? How will your service and support your product?

Explain the selling process step by step, from distribution to sales to servicing of sales. What is your sales strategy? How is your company going to approach it's prospects and capitalize on it's potential? Go into detail about how your product or service will be sold and/or distributed.

How will you advertise and promote your product or service? If possible get and add the actual reaction of some prospects to your product or service? List in detail all your plans for distribution, geographical penetration, roll-out schedule, and future locations.

Discuss in detail the pricing strategy you've developed to make your product or service competitive yet still generate ample profits.

Identify your prospects, your selling strategy, the size of and the compensation for your sales force, your selling cycle, and both your short and long-term goals you want to achieve.

6. Proprietary protection and uniqueness. Explain what makes your company stand out from the rest. The degree of uniqueness is a major strength in your entire marketing strategy.

Explain the range of protection against competition, including patent and copyright protection. What is your strategy to create barriers for others in your market beyond patent and copyright protection? Describe any available technology that is superior or equal to yours. What creative technology or research are you going to do to provide future sales?

Armed with a detailed marketing plan, you can develop your creative and media strategies. With a marketing plan in place, the other two strategies virtually write themselves. With them, your marketing materials virtually write themselves, too. And your media decisions are much easier to make.

It is very important that every person in your company know each word of your marketing plan, so that they can help carry the banner forward with you. You should invite everyone in your organization to participate in the creation of the marketing plan. With everyone's involvement, before and after, you have the assurance, that everyone in your organization is completely clear about the goals and essence of the business.

You should review your marketing plan every quarter or at the minimum every six months. Make adjustments in your plan only to account for changing market conditions. The fewer changes you make, the more likely you got it right the first time. Take the time to put your marketing plan together carefully so you get it right the first time. By doing this you will assure your marketing success for years to come.

Copyright© 2005 by Joe Love and JLM & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Joe Love draws on his 25 years of experience helping both individuals and companies build their businesses, increase profits, and achieve total success. He is the founder and CEO of JLM & Associates, a consulting and training organization, specializing in personal and business development. Through his seminars and lectures, Joe Love addresses thousands of men and women each year, including the executives and staffs of many of America's largest corporations, on the subjects of leadership, self-esteem, goals, achievement, and success psychology.

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