Entrepreneur Ideas: Your Guide to a Painless 2013 Business Marketing Plan

It is time to think about your strategic marketing plan for 2013.  No need to worry. You probably already have more than enough information to get started, and it does not need to take days or weeks. Follow this guide for pulling together a workable plan.

Many marketing plans are too complicated for their own good. There, it’s said.

The truth is, a strategic marketing plan for your company’s internal use doesn’t need to be an award-winning object of great beauty. A concise, well-reasoned plan can be broken down into three major components (more on that in a minute) and can be as brief as three or four pages. Clarity and a sense of direction are more important than stacks of research and dozens of pages of analysis.

Remember, perfection is the enemy of good. The odds are that whatever you and your team come up with will be more than good enough, so get going.

The View from 5,000 Feet

To put together an effective business marketing plan, you need to have a good understanding of what’s happening in your industry and in the specific marketplace where your company competes. This is the “5,000 foot” view from above that doesn’t provide specific details, but that presents a broad snapshot of your industry’s dynamics.

Questions to consider:

  • Is the market for your services or products growing?
  • Are there new service or product categories to pursue? (A great one!)
  • How does the general state of the economy impact your industry?
  • How good is your competition?
  • Are there new technical or product innovations that will change how you compete? (Another great one!)
  • Are there new or pending regulations that will change the industry?

These are factors to consider as you move through the steps of putting your strategic marketing plan together.

The Three Components of Your Business Marketing Plan

Marketing plans boil down to three components:

  1. Goals
  2. Strategy
  3. Tactics

Marketing budgets could have a place on this list, too. But marketing budgets and how they are allocated warrant a discussion of their own.

Marketing Goals

Marketing goals should be specific and measurable. Examples are:

  • Increase sales in 2013 by 20%
  • Increase sales based on client referrals by 10% in 2013
  • Launch two new service lines in 2013
  • Gain 10% market share in 2013

In some cases, marketing goals can be targeted to even more specific time frames.

  • Increase sales in 1st quarter 5% over 1st quarter, 2012
  • Launch one new service offering each quarter in 2013

The point is, goals represent the targets your marketing department wants to achieve. How exactly that happens is defined at the strategic and tactical levels.

Marketing Strategy Planning

Think of marketing strategy as your battle plan, or game plan. Strategies help your company reach its goals (and tactics, as you’ll see in a moment, are how you carry out your strategies.)

For example, a commercial cleaning or janitorial services business might launch a new outdoor pressure washing service, based on the needs of its customer base.

Or, the same company, which had been focusing specifically on office buildings, could announce and launch janitorial services for hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities.

But whatever the results of your marketing strategy planning might be, it should be based on some insight into the needs of the marketplace.

Examples of Marketing Tactics

Here’s where the real action is, and what your customer base – if you’re doing it right – will see.

Tactics are the specific, concrete actions that you carry out to make your strategy work, and to reach your goals.

Staying with the janitorial services / pressure washing example, examples of marketing tactics might include:

  • Run weekly banner ads on local news websites
  • Insert discount coupons with customer invoices, announcing the new service
  • Send direct mail postcards to 3,000 prospects in the service area
  • Offer special discounts to established or first-time customers (Or both)
  • Hire telemarketing service to call 10,000 businesses in the service area
  • Get testimonials from first pressure washing customers and place on website

Tactics should be listed on a calendar or timetable for implementation. They can be adjusted as the marketing plan is put in motion, after you have had a chance to see what’s effective and what’s not.

Why it Makes Sense

Thinking about your marketing in terms of marketing goals, strategies and tactics makes the entire process of implementing the plan much easier. The three components allow you to assign responsibilities, allocate budgets, and more effectively analyze what works best for your company.

But the most important thing of all is to have a plan in place before the sales year starts. Again, it may not be perfect, but even a simple business marketing plan will help ensure that your company is moving in the right direction.

For More Great Ideas for Entrepreneurs from MP Star Financial:

Entrepreneur Ideas: Making Trade Show Marketing Work

Entrepreneur Ideas: Four Year-End Questions for Your Accountant

Entrepreneur Ideas: Four Things a Business Owner Must Do Before Year-End

Entrepreneur Ideas: Trademarks, Copyrights and Patents can Protect Your Work

Entrepreneur Ideas: Using Your Calendar to Sell

Don’t let cash flow problems distract you from implementing your marketing plans and growing your company. MP Star Financial’s invoice factoring and other small business funding services can help. Call for more information. (800) 833-3765, extension 150.

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