Our marketing plan series for small businesses began with this post, discussing marketing plans overall and what you should include in them. Ultimately, a marketing plan’s purpose is to drive new business, whether that’s through new customers or sales from new offerings. There is a wide variety of tactics you can use in your plan, including networking, sponsorships, advertising, generating positive PR, etc.
A quick note: If your audience doesn’t know who you are, or worse, they don’t care, your efforts won’t succeed. Before you begin any sort of marketing plan, make sure you have a solid brand strategy in place so you can clearly, consistently communicate about your company. We’ll be posting more on how to build your brand soon.
Here, we’re going to dive into the first major section that explores more deeply your company, service/product offerings, and more.
OK, let’s begin shall we?
What Makes You Stand Out?
According to the SBA, there are over 28 million small businesses in the United States. Which means competition for your company. So what makes your stand out from the rest? Knowing what makes you different, and the better choice, is the first step in crafting your marketing strategy.
- The Executive Summary
There are different reasons for marketing, so including an executive summary is the first step. Maybe you’re just starting out and your marketing plan is meant to build your business from the ground up. Maybe you’ve been in business for five years and are ready to grow beyond working only from referrals. Entering a new market? You’ll need a strategy of how to introduce yourself to your new audience. Crafting this summary will help focus your efforts, create better buy-in from others, and guide your resources as
- Your Business Vision
Your business vision is a combination of your overall business goals, coupled with your Brand Vision. In other words, what kind of company do you want to be and ultimately, how do you want to be perceived? With this information in place, you then work out how you want to achieve your vision and what you’ll need to get there.
- Your Business Products/Service Offerings
What do you have to offer your customers? Are you addressing their pain points? A simple list here of what you are selling is fine. This list is part of identifying what your differentiators truly are and what will set you apart from your competition.
- A SWOT analysis
Conducting an honest SWOT analysis of your company is the first step in knowing the truth about where you should be concentrating your efforts. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Everyone likes filling in the Strengths and Opportunities sections; the Weaknesses and Threats… not so much. But undergoing an honest assessment of these categories and including it in your marketing plan is crucial to developing a successful marketing strategy. After your SWOT has been completed, conduct research to vet out your Opportunities and Threats for their accuracy.
- Your Differentiators or USP
Your unique selling point, or differentiator, is what separates you from the rest of your competition. For example, wireless companies constantly advertise their ever-lower pricing since they have virtually nothing to offer over each other. If you fall into the trap of not having a true differentiator to make your target audience care more for you than the “other guy,” sooner or later you’ll compete solely on price and all but prevent any future growth.
It can be easy for a company or business owner to think they know the -ins and -outs of these five considerations, but you would be amazed at how difficult it can truly be to answer all of the above. The bottom line is that honest answers will help reveal what you have to offer your target audience and how to convey the benefits you offer throughout your marketing efforts.