As a small business, you will be focussed on getting new customers, retaining existing ones and getting your current audience spending more with you. The key aims of any sales and marketing activity will be on or more of the following strategies:
• Attracting more customers
• Increasing average spend amount
• Making customers buy from you more often
• Keeping customers for life
Developing a marketing plan does not need to be a complex or technical document and can be structured around the following key steps:
Defining and Understanding your Customers and Market
You cannot sell something to people who don’t want or need it. A profitable market consists of people who genuinely have a need for a product or service and will most likely to buy it when it is offered to them.
• Who are your customers?
• What do they want?
• What will motivate them to buy from you?
• What problem is solved with your product or service?
The best marketing plans concentrate on supplying products and services to customer groups that fit the lifestyle (psychographic) and demographic (such as age, gender, occupation or income) profiles of a specific target market.
In other words, if you define your market as everybody and anybody, then you are likely to end up selling to nobody. If the marketplace is highly competitive, you'll find jumping up and down in a small puddle far more effective than trying to make a splash in a large ocean.
Your marketing plan should outline how you will carve out your specific niche and how you aim to dominate it.
What is your Message?
Explain what your product offers and persuade people to buy from you.
There are generally two types of marketing message. One is short, to the point and often referred to as the 'elevator pitch'. It's your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be with someone important who asks you 'What do you do?' and you have 30 seconds to make your pitch.
The second type is the complete marketing message and your plan should develop this type of message and identify everywhere that it's going to be used. This type of marketing message needs to be compelling and persuasive and should typically include the following elements:
• An explanation of your target customers' problem.
• Proof that this problem is important and that it should be solved without delay.
• An explanation of why you are the only supplier that can solve the problem.
• An explanation of the benefits people will get by using your solution.
• Examples and testimonials of satisfied customers who have used your service.
• An explanation of prices and payment terms.
• Your unconditional guarantee.
Defining your Marketing Medium
Your marketing medium is the communication vehicle that you will use to deliver your marketing message. The best medium for you will be the one that reaches the most people in your customer’s market at the lowest possible cost.
The following is a selection of different types of marketing media you can use to get your message out:
• Online search results such as via Google or Bing
• Mobile apps
• Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook
• YouTube and other video-streaming platforms
• Posters and billboards
• Leaflet drops
• Trade shows
• Newspaper and magazine adverts
• TV and radio adverts
• Press articles and advertorials
• Charity events
• Sales letters or E-mail
• Sales agents
• Press releases
• Gift vouchers
• Word of mouth
• Business cards
• Brochures and catalogues
• Window displays
Choosing your Route to Market
Your route to market will largely depend on the type of product or service you are selling and the target market you are trying to reach.
You could choose to sell by a combination of routes such as mail order, via e-commerce, through distributors or sales agents or directly to customers. You must be precise and clear about how and why you choose your market route and what alternative you will use if your initial route does not produce the results you expect.
Targets are critical to marketing success and these should be realistic and specific. If you haven't written down your goals and targets in your marketing plan you are simply wishing for success instead of aiming for it.
Ensure that your goals and objectives use the SMART formula:
These goals should include financial values in terms of volume of sales, monthly and annual revenues, profit targets and sales per salesperson. You can also include targets such as enquiry levels, sales conversion rates, website traffic generated, contracts won, press releases and articles published.
Budget and Timetables
You can calculate your budget using either exact figures or an estimate.
If you have been trading for a year or more already, you will be able to calculate your 'cost to acquire one customer' or 'cost to sell one product' by dividing your previous year's annual sales and marketing costs by the number of customers you have acquired or units you have sold.
Take this unit cost and multiply it by your sales or customer acquisition goals for the year ahead. This will give you an indication of how much you need to invest to achieve your sales and marketing targets.
Once you have calculated or estimated your budget, you will need to produce a timetable to implement the plan. This timetable will identify:
• Each specific marketing action you will take.
• Who will carry these out.
• A timescale for each activity and when it will start.
• Key events and milestones during the year, such as trade shows and product launches.
• When you will need to bring in external expertise, such as specialists in PR, graphic design or direct sales.
Monitoring and Review
Once your marketing plan is underway, you will need to monitor and review its progress continually. Ideally, you should do this each month. You should also consider possible scenarios, such as how to handle responses to marketing activities or how to deal with seasonal aspects of your industry.