Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The 24-Hour Marketing Plan--Part 1

Putting together a marketing plan strikes fear into even the most stalwart of people.

If you are one of those people who have your plan "upstairs," please read the following on creating a comprehensive marketing plan.

It will walk you through the process step-by-step, from taking stock of your current situation, to timing your projects. You’ll learn how to define your target market, map out your objectives, and create a realistic budget for promotion.

I won't lie to you, a marketing plan is real legwork, but this straightforward process will provide you with a great road map.

(Step 1) HOUR 1: Take Stock
Before you map out where you want to go, you need to find out where you are now.

Where have you been successful?
Where have you NOT been successful?
What do you do well?
Who are your competitors?
What do you have that they don’t?
How do your customers see you?
Why do the use you?
What are the BENEFITS they receive?

ACTION: Being as objective as possible, write four or five paragraphs that summarize your business, including your philosophy, strengths and weaknesses.
Don't worry if it's not neatly organized -- it's more important just to get everything down on paper.

(Step 2) HOURS 2 to 3: Set Your Goals
Now that you have a sense of where you are, you can decide where you want to go.
Ask yourself what you're trying to accomplish.
Increase number of customers?
Do you want to increase sales?
Increase profits?
Establish a niche?
Enter a new market where you may not have much experience?

ACTION: Outline each of your goals, and be specific. While you should be optimistic, use a healthy dose of realism to keep you grounded.
Remember, the best marketing plan in the world is not likely to increase sales 80 percent next year, barring special circumstances such as an outstanding new product introduction or the sudden disappearance of your competition.
While it's fine to have multiple goals, be sure to prioritize them so you can create a realistic plan to achieve them.

(Step 3) HOUR 3 to 4: Pick Your Target(s)
Who are your target audiences?
How large are they?
Are there segments?
Where is your target market?

If you say "everyone," you need to rethink your answer.

Even the largest companies don't market blindly to every individual or company. They break their audiences down into distinct profiles, or niche markets, and create messages and vehicles designed to reach each segment.

ACTION: Define your niche markets as clearly and specifically as possible.
If you're reaching out to businesses, describe which type, including the industry, revenue level, location and other important characteristics.
If you identify several market segments, rank them in order of priority.

(Step 4) HOURS 4 to 9: Research You Target(s)
Now that you've outlined where you are and where you want to go, it's time to determine the best way to get there.
Nothing will get you where you want to go faster than research. Information about your target audiences is available from a variety of resources, many of them free.
ACTION: Take some time to find out about the demographics (physical characteristics) and psychographics (psychological characteristics) of your target markets.

Demographics outline such factors as age, geographic location and income level. Psychographics offer insight into trends, buying habits, market segments and the like.
Trade associations and publications are often great places to start your research, especially if you're reaching out to businesses. Use your own and your target industries' trade resources for market information. Many associations have Web sites, and many publications are also available on the Net. For information about consumer audiences in your region, try your state or county's department of economic development.
Once you've gathered this information, write a detailed profile of your audience segments. Include all the demographic and psycho-graphic information you've gathered.

Tomorrow I will share the rest of the article. Just so you are aware, this information was supplied to me by a network I belong and I am not the author, just the presenter to my readers. I hope the information shared is a benefit to you.

Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisors, Inc.

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