Marketing Plan For Small Businesses

Everything in business is done better when there is a plan; well that most definitely includes marketing. For a small business there are many different ideas that need to be included. It is best to refer to it monthly, and make sure you mark the sales/manufacturing so you can track how you are doing with the plan every month. For small businesses, the marketing plan should cover one year because the business is constantly changing whether it is the economy, customers, or employees. Most of your plan should concentrate on the current year and what you want to accomplish, but you should also include some goals for the next two to four years also. The planning part may be the hardest part of marketing, but when executing the plan has its difficulties, the planning will help when the marketing plan is precise and easy to follow.

Everyone in the company needs to see the marketing plan so you can receive feedback. This is crucial because in order to put the marketing plan into action you need all the departments of your business involved. You can ask ‘What’s achievable?’, ‘How will our goals be reached?’, and ‘Any potential marketing opportunities?’ Thus, it will create a better, more well-rounded plan. It is also important to include everyone in the marketing plan because it really rallies the company, makes everyone feel involved. You want to make your employees to be committed to the company so it is crucial to include them on the vision of the company in the next few years.

Your marketing plan needs to follow the vision of your company from your business plan. They need to be consistent not only financially but the dos and don’ts of the company as well. Have you ever thought to just go without a marketing plan? And just go with the flow of the company? Well then you and your company are doomed, you will just be aimlessly trying to market your company.

Here is a simple guide to your marketing plan and what you need to include:

Target market: including demographics, age, sex, ethnic groups, location
Niche Trends: how your industry is doing in your niche
Goals: everything you want to accomplish that year, or the next couple years to come
How to accomplish: the strategies on how you are going to achieve these goals financially and technically
Budget: how this all fits into your budget
Competitors: you always need to keep your competitors in mind but it is easier to lower it down to 2 to 3 top competitors and how you are going to beat them
Monthly Strategies: the tactics you are going to use every month to reach those goals you have presented.

All in all, a marketing plan is simply goals and how you are going to reach them. You can find more marketing strategies and solutions at NLprofits.com. Check out video tutorials and blogs with timeless information!

Creating a Marketing Plan That Will Give You the Competitive Advantage You Are Looking For

Are you a small business owner wondering how to get ahead of the competition and increase sales? Generally, the one goes with the other, unless you are one of the few who are lucky enough to have more business than you can handle. And if you’re in that situation, you should probably think about expanding! Either way, your business can benefit from a solid marketing plan. If you need to grow by attracting more customers, or improve your margins by lowering costs, putting some thought into how you market your business is the first place to start, especially if you think you will need to seek additional funding to move your business to the next level.

A marketing plan is like a business plan for an already existing company, although for new businesses seeking funding, a complete business plan should always be a subset included in the overall business plan. Marketing plans define what your objective for your company is and present the various short and long-term strategies you plan to use to achieve that objective. Marketing is often painfully oversimplified in the minds of people who don’t understand or have experience in it. This is easy to do because certain elements of marketing appear to be quite simple. For example, anyone with a few hundred dollars can pay for a radio or print ad. Relatively few people however can clearly define a measurable result by which they will determine how successful the ad was or define how it will fit into a larger, more comprehensive marketing plan.

The marketing plan begins at the most fundamental level of your business: why you exist. What is your mission, your vision? If your answer is simply “to make money,” you need to put some more thought into it! Marketing plans force you to examine this and many other questions in order to become more competitive. Once you have defined why you’re in business and what customer need you are satisfying, it’s time to evaluate how you’re doing in context of what you need, and in comparison to your competitors.

Forming a strategy in part by comparison to your competitors involves completing a comprehensive market analysis, which includes detailed research and consideration of every individual competitor, with their strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities and threats they provide or pose. Where are they doing better than you and what can you do better than them? Conducting such a detailed analysis will help you uncover your core competency. Or in other words, the thing you can do better than all of your competitors.

If your marketing plan helps you identify this one piece of information, it will be a success. For an investor considering funding an existing business, the magnitude of your core competency and resulting competitive advantage will do more than any other information in your marketing plan to convince them to give you their money. One important factor in further refining your market analysis is evaluating your current market share. How much total demand is there, and how much of that have you captured? How will that demand grow or shrink in the coming months and years?

The Art of the Business Web Marketing Email List

As a business owner marketing your business, brand, product and/or service, you know that you need to reach out to targeted individuals on the web. This means that you must seek out and target your business web marketing materials towards those people who might find an interest in what you do. If yours is a company that manufactures wheelchairs, you will obviously want to market your materials to people who require the use of such equipment, or the families of people who do. What if you could gather an entire group of targeted individuals into one area so that you could market to them over and over? That is exactly that business web marketing list building is all about. If you can gather your own list of highly-targeted prospects and customers, your job becomes ten times easier. You no longer have to seek out like-minded individuals, you’ll have them right where you want them: on your subscriber list. Let’s take a look at the art of building a business web marketing email list and how to leverage that list for maximum return.

Email Platforms

You could manage a business web marketing list all on your own, but why when there are many platforms available to you that make the task easy? A few examples of email marketing platforms that are popular with the business to consumer and business to business Internet marketing crowd like include:

  • AWeber
  • GetResponse
  • Constant Contact
  • Mail Chimp

Each platform comes with its own features, price points and extras, but it really doesn’t matter which platform you choose. Each one, regardless if it’s paid or free, will allow you to:

  • Create an opt-in form that you can place on your website or blog
  • Import email addresses that you gather from other means
  • Pre-program email messages (autoresponders) to go out at specific times, such as a Thank You autoresponder that goes out the moment someone opts into your list
  • Test emails that will give you the data you need to improve your campaigns and conversions

These are just some of the features you will receive with most business web marketing email platforms. The more advanced the platform and the higher the cost of packages, the more features you’ll earn.

Email Marketing on the Web for Any Small Business

Once you have selected the ideal business web marketing email platform, you next need to set it up. Most platforms will allow you to tailor your emails so that they can look and feel anyway you wish. For right now, we will focus on plain text emails.

Opting-In

Find the area on the platform you chose that dedicated to form creation. Your opt-in form will go on your website or blog and will allow your subscribers to enter their personal information, usually a name and email address. Some marketers also like to gather phone numbers, especially if they are simultaneously running a mobile or SMS business web marketing campaign.

At any rate, you will want to create your opt-in form so that it matches your website exactly. The closer you get the colors and design of your site to match your opt-in form, the higher your conversions will be.

Free Offer

Most people hate to receive tons of emails. For that reason, most people are very apprehensive to give out their personal information, including their email address. Your job as a business web marketing expert is to entice the click.

Write a short report or get someone to write it for you explaining to your audience how to complete a task, solve one of their goals or anything else they might find useful. If your site provides tips for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners, for instance, you might write a report titled, “Ten Ways to Avoid Submission that All BJJ Practitioners Should Know,” or something to that effect. Make sure your audience will be interested in the information and make sure the information found inside can’t be found elsewhere online.

If you do have to rehash information found online, put your own spin on it and make it as unique and as valuable as possible for your audience.

Get Creative with Your Business Web Marketing

Once your opt-in form is completed, start sending targeted traffic to the page that is hosting the form, or to multiple pages if you happen to be testing your form. Write articles, spread the news on social networks, blog about your subject and toss in a call-to-action mentioning your free offer, and engage in any traffic-building that will help you build your list with targeted prospects.

Don’t just gather email addresses and contact information from your opt-in list, however. The business of marketing requires you to think outside of the box. Every time you do business with a customer, ask for an email address. Host a local event and place a fish bowl near the entrance where participants can drop in their business cards or come up with your own ideas.

You Have a Business Web Marketing List: Now What?

Once you start building a list, you will want to populate your business web marketing email platform with autoresponders to go out at specific times.

The Business of Marketing With Email: Crafting the Autoresponder

Your first autoresponder should go out when your subscribers opt-in. Most platforms have pre-programmed messages that go out when the subscriber first hits submit after entering their info and then again when they finally confirm their email thanking them for subscribing. You can customize these if you want to and it is recommended that you do.

When crafting business web marketing autoresponders, try to be conversational, edgy, catchy and informative. The rule of autoresponders is no fluff or boring material. People are too busy and their attention spans far too short to put up with lengthy autoresponders that don’t say anything.

The following autoresponder schedule should work for any business to customer or business to business Internet marketing campaign.

  • Autoresponder 1: Please confirm your email address.
  • Autoresponder 2: Thank you for subscribing. You will also want to explain to your subscribers that you will never spam them, trade or sell their personal information or abuse their info in any way. You will also want to explain to your subscribers that you will be sending emails daily, weekly, monthly or whatever schedule you plan to keep. Let your subscribers know what to expect and they’ll remain your subscribers for far longer.
  • Autoresponder 3-8: Take your subscribers through a five-part e-course. Really, you’re just pre-programming five tips, one in each email. Let your subscribers know that they are getting something special and that your tips cannot be found anywhere else. Do not sell during the five part e-course. This is merely for information, to help your subscribers reach their goals and it also positions you as the expert in your field.
  • Autoresponder 9-10: This is when you will want to recommend that product you’ve been dying to sell. It could be your own or an affiliate product. Now that you’ve positioned yourself as the go-to person in your field, let them know that the product or service is one-of-a-kind and it will help them reach their goals. Obviously the product or service had better be good and worth the money if you hope to retain your business web marketing list subscribers.

From then on, you should alternate between selling and tip-giving. Always give more advice, help, tips, updates, news and other relevant information more than you sell. Do not annoy your list subscribers or they will unsubscribe and bail on you.

The business of marketing with email lists isn’t difficult, but it does take patience and know-how. Once you establish yourself as the leader in your niche, your subscribers will be proud to be subscribed and they’ll follow any links you provide as they strive to reach their goals.

If you are selling your own product or service or you’re an affiliate marketer selling someone else’s products or services, an email list is always the way to go.

How to Write a Business or Marketing Plan

What is a business or marketing plan? Why do you need one? In a nutshell, a business and/or marketing plan is an essential mix of documents to help you create a clear picture of what your business is about, where you plan to go, and how you will get there. These plans will paint a picture in steps or form a map of your business – your goals, values, strengths, areas for development, finance and ways to market etc

When you start out you will have an idea in your mind as to how you see your business moving forward. This is a positive beginning however unless you get your thoughts and ideas on paper you will have nothing to reflect on as your business progresses. Successful business growth is about planning and this is a critical stage.

It is important to remember that your business or marketing plan is not designed to be set in stone. You will establish goals and objectives however be mindful that the growth of your business will be an evolution. Keep your options open and be fluid in your approach as you and your business learn, adapt, change and evolve.

First we’ll take a look at a business plan and what is involved.

As a start-up, keep your business and marketing plans simple.

Your business plan can include:

  • An Executive Summary: A list of the main highlights of your business.
  • A Company Description: How you started, what type of business you are i.e. sole trader/limited company, and what your plans are.
  • Your Product or Service: What are you selling? Concentrate on the key benefits for your customer.
  • A Market Analysis: Who is your market? What are your customers looking for? Who are your competitors? How will you target your audience? etc
  • Your Strategy and Implementation: Specify your responsibilities including target dates and costs. This will help you track your results.
  • A Web Plan Summary: What is the purpose of your website? What is the cost to build & maintain etc? How will you market your website?
  • Who’s Who in your Team?: How does your organization work? Roles & responsibilities? Who reports to whom?
  • Your Financial Analysis: How will you manage your expenses and costs? Include projected Profit and Loss and Cash Flow tables.

As your business develops you can always elaborate your process particularly if you apply for funding from investors or a bank.

Now onto your marketing plan. This plan involves how you will sell your product or service to your target audience. Like a business plan, your marketing plan will provide a map of your business, however with a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) you will gain a better insight into the market potential of your new business.

Your marketing plan can include:

  • A Situation Analysis: Analyse your market using a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). Include in your analysis a current market forecast, information about your customer sector, and your market needs.
  • Your Marketing Strategy: Outline your business philosophy and values i.e. your mission statement. What are your objectives, your plan to market and how you can best position yourself?
  • A Sales Forecast: How will you create opportunities to meet your customer, track monthly sales, and follow-up with your customers? Breakdown the elements of your business i.e. sales by your product, area or market segment etc. A forecast provides a strong focus for your business.
  • An Expense Budget: How will you manage your expenses/profits? Preparing a thorough budget allows you to maintain a positive cash flow.

You will notice that there are cross over elements for both types of plan. If you choose to write both a business plan and a marketing plan you will give yourself a very powerful insight into the potential of your business, as you will create a visual representation which you can revisit and reflect on as you progress.

Business and marketing plan templates can be found online if you add “business plans” or “marketing plans” to your search engine.

How to Make Use of a Marketing Plan For An Online Business

The one thing that will separate you from the 90% of other network marketers is the discipline of following a weekly marketing plan for online business. Once you have a plan in place, there is nowhere to go – but up.

This plan is just a list of task that you follow on a daily basis. It may seem tedious at first, however, once you get the hang of it, you can quickly complete your daily tasks. Now you will have more time to work on other aspects of your business.

Developing a systematic method of conducting your business will help you stay focused. You can, also, draw upon your plan to measure your success.

J.O.B. Provides Plan

In a J.O.B., you are given a plan (list of tasks) by your supervisor. This plan has been tested time and time again. I am sure it had to go through several changes before ensuring that the tasks can be duplicated.

Your J.O.B. is to perform these same tasks on a daily basis. Any successful business rely on a marketing plan.

Your business is no different. You must rely on a working plan in order to map your way to success.

Your Business and Marketing Plan

This is your business and you must start to think of how to develop a realistic plan. With all the information and ways to market on the internet, I understand putting a marketing plan together can be overwhelming.

Just remember that your plan does not have to be perfect the first time around. That is why it is called a PLAN, an on going thought process.

Start out slow, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Begin with just one marketing method until you become a master of that method. I suggest you start with Social Media. To help you get going on your marketing plan, I designed a Weekly marketing Plan form. (A copy can be downloaded from the site referenced in the resource box.)

As you develop your skills, you can expand your marketing plan.

How to Utilize A Marketing Plan for Online Business

An example on how to utilize this plan. On the form provided:

1. Decide how many times you want to perform a particular task.

2. Place this number under Goal.

3. End of the week, add up how many times you completed that particular task.

4. Place this number under Achieved.

5. Subtract the two numbers to get your Net.

For example, if you have a goal of 5 and achieve of 4, in this example, you did not meet your goal. However, do not get discouraged. You always have time to correct your actions.

Now, let us take a look at the next week’s plan. Go ahead and reset your goals and try again. After subtracting Goal from Achieved, let’s say you worked hard and produced a Net of +2. This time you exceeded your goal for that week. GOOD FOR YOU!

Your Measure of Success

Save copies of each your weekly plans. Occasionally, take them out and compare.

Keep persistent in your daily activities and you will see improvement – Revealing your Measure of Success. You do not need to earn a lot of money in order to say that you are succeeding.

Start making out your marketing plan today. The sooner you start disciplining your actions, the quicker you will see the results you seek.