Marketing is an integral part of doing business for any company. However, for a limited-purpose company, it can be tricky to define exactly what marketing is and how it fits within the company’s goals and objectives. At D-B-C, we have a fairly broad view of marketing. Essentially, marketing is about communicating with, and attracting, customers to, your business.
So, whether you’re developing marketing plans, preparing a pitch for investors, or trying to refine your business’ marketing strategy, this article is for you. We’ll cover eight steps to creating an effective marketing plan that will help you connect with the right audience and grow your business.
Step one: Set your stallion free
The first step in the marketing process is to set your stallion free – that is, to let go of trying to control every aspect of your marketing and instead focus on what you can control. This may mean that you need to branch out of your comfort zone and try something new. If you’re used to controlling every aspect of your marketing, you may struggle to step back and let go.
The good news is that there are people and strategies available to support you in this endeavor. You don’t need to do this alone. Your fellow entrepreneurs, marketers, and experienced professionals can be your support system as you begin to explore uncharted waters. Take advantage of these folks. Ask them for help. Learn from their expertise.
Step two: Start small
When you’re starting a new business, it’s extremely important to keep in mind the old adage ‘you’re only as good as your last sale.’ This rings even truer for a marketing professional. Your first two or three customers can be the key to your success or failure as a business. So, whether you’re in the process of developing a new product, service, or launching a marketing campaign, make sure that you’re doing your homework. Research the market size and demand for your product and services, and consider benchmarking to see how your target audience compares to the rest of the market. Having knowledge of your competitors will also help you develop a strong business case to present to investors or potential customers.
Step three: Measure the right things
The first rule of marketing is to measure the right things. Although you may have a hunch that a particular marketing strategy will work or lead to successful results, you’ll never know for sure unless you’re checking off the right boxes. Measuring the right things can also help you decide what to keep and what to let go. For example, if the results of a marketing campaign aren’t what you’re looking for – you might want to scrap that particular strategy and try something new.
Step four: Plan your media strategy
Once you’ve set your stallion free and are taking a more exploratory approach to your marketing, you can begin to plan your media strategy. A media strategy is a plan of action to spread the word about your business. You’ll need to decide which platforms and channels you’re going to use to reach your target audience.
Thought leaders, opinion leaders, and influencers can all play a role in bringing your business to the forefront of people’s minds. If you’re looking to grow your reach within a particular social media platform, consider investing in marketing tools to help you become more influential.
Step five: Create buyer personas
A buyer persona is a brief description of a person, group, or organization that’s going to use your product or service. Your buyer personas will form the basis of your marketing campaign, and it’s essential that you choose these individuals, groups, or organizations carefully. A well-thought-out and -crafted buyer persona can help you create a unique selling proposition (USP) that will set you apart from the competition.
Creating buyer personas that are highly targeted and have clearly defined buyer needs and expectations will help you plan your product or service offerings and marketing strategy. If you have a clear picture in mind of who your ideal customer is, you can design your product or service to meet those needs. Your marketing strategy will be easier to develop and implement if you first define these key target audiences.
Step six: Research the competition
To successfully engage with your target audience and grow your business, you need to understand your competition. Who are your competitors and what are they doing? What strategies are they using to attract customers? How are they presenting themselves in the marketplace?
Once you’ve benchmarked the size of your target audience within your niche and considered your competitors’ marketing strategies, you can begin to design your plan of attack. You’ll need to decide what approach you’re going to use to gain a competitive advantage in this area. If possible, develop a few unique selling propositions (USPs) that will set you apart from the competition. Create compelling reasons for customers to choose you as opposed to your competitors.
Step seven: Test your strategy
Testing your strategy is extremely important. Even the most tried and tested of strategies can fail if implemented incorrectly. So, it’s essential that you validate your assumptions and consider the results of your tests before committing to a strategy. Testing ensures that you’re not wasting your time and resources with ineffective methods. In addition, testing will also help you determine the correct metrics for measuring the success of your strategy. For example, if the results of a marketing campaign are not what you’re looking for, you might want to try a different approach. Remember, you’re only as good as your last sale! So, if a particular marketing strategy isn’t producing the results that you’re looking for, it’s time to try a new approach.
Step eight: Monitor and review progress
Finally, it’s important to monitor and review the progress of your marketing plan. Just because you’ve got a strategy and a plan of action doesn’t mean that everything will go smoothly. You’ll need to monitor and review your results to see how effective your strategy was in real life. Consider using performance metrics to track the success of your strategy. For example, did a particular social media platform lead to increased brand awareness? Did a marketing campaign lead to more sales? If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. To determine the effectiveness of your strategy, review the results of your tests and consider whether or not you achieved your goals.
A successful marketing plan doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to build a following and gain credibility. However, with a little bit of patience and some key supporting strategies, you can begin to see results.