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Developing a Marketing Strategy

A marketing plan focuses on winning and keeping customers; it is strategic and includes numbers, facts, and objectives. A good marketing plan lays out the plans and tactics that will be used to achieve sales goals. It sets out in detail what you plan to sell, who you would like to buy from you, and what tactics you will use to create leads that will result in sales.

Marketing Plan

The first step is to look at what sets your product or service apart from competitors. You should be able to describe what you are marketing, and you should also have a clear understanding of what your competitors have to offer to show how your product or service can provide better value. Only by understanding your niche market can you competitively position your product or service regardless of your industry.

The next step involves developing a profile of your prospective customer. The best way to do this is by describing your ideal customer in terms of demographics, for example, age, gender, and geographic location. Should you be a business-to-business (B2B) marketer, you would define your target audience based on their type of business, geographic location, or the size of the business. Regardless of the target audience, it is important define them in this step as it will be your guide when planning your media and public relations campaigns.

The third step includes making a list of your marketing goals. In other words, what do you want your marketing plan to achieve? Ensure that your goals are measurable so that you will know when you have achieved them. Set specific and realistic goals, some that are short term goals and others that are long term goals.

Marketing Tactics

Fourthly, research marketing tactics. In the previous steps, we have outlined what your marketing must achieve and highlighted your best prospects; now we must get into detail with regards to the tactics you will use to reach these prospects and achieve these goals. A solid marketing program targets prospects at all stages of your sales cycle. Many forms of advertising and direct marketing are excellent for reaching cold prospects. Warm prospects respond better to permission-based email, loyalty programs, and customer appreciation events. Warm prospects refer to those who have previously been exposed to your marketing message; these are your most promising leads in terms of closing a sale. After outlining your primary marketing strategies, include a variety of tactics you will use to reach prospects at any point in your sales cycle. For example, to reach cold prospects you might use billboards, print media and online local searches, but make use of email to contact warm prospects. Find out which media your target audience turns to for information on the type of product or service that you sell to determine your ideal marketing mix.

The final step is to set your marketing budget. A percentage of your projected gross sales should be allocated towards your annual marketing budget. Marketing is essential to the success of your business.

A marketing plan is essential in any business; it contributes to its overall success. A marketing plan requires thought, planning, and budgeting. It is a vital tool in winning and keeping customers.

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SMME owners frequently experience challenges, however, do not always know where to start and which areas of the business they need to focus on to address these challenges. To overcome this hurdle, we use a business health check tool with some of our clients to understand their strengths and challenges.

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