Every business (no matter how small or how long established) needs a marketing plan. It doesn’t have to be pages and pages long but it needs to cover off a few things:
Where your business is currently? – analyse market trends, identify sources of revenue, identify your customers and competitors. Perform a SWOT analysis to figure out your strategic options.
Your marketing strategy – set your marketing objectives, position your offerings, set your pricing, open up your communication channels and work out your marketing budget.
How you’re going to implement your strategy – who is going to implement it, when and how will you know if it is working or not.
Remember, your written plan is only as good as the thought and planning that you put into it. So look at the development of your marketing plan as an opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of your customer so that your marketing plan is customer-driven rather than promotion-led (this is critical for sucess). You need to get to know your customers first and then plan how you can best deliver what they need.
Today, I’m going to focus on examining where your business is now
Before you can set out your objectives for the year ahead, you need to find out what’s happening in the market place and how fit your business is to meet the challenges for the year ahead. This will help you to answer the key question: where are you now?
To answer it, you need to research the key trends in your sector, find out how you perform relative to your competition in the eyes of the consumer and you need to figure out what your key strengths and weaknesses are. This will help you to do a really good SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis.
So you need to do the following pieces (remember get your team involved in this as well):
Analyse Market Trends
Review your local market
Review your web presence
Conduct a website audit
Review your marketing and communications
Analyse Sources of Revenue
Undertake a Customer Review
Undertake a Competitor Review
Undertake a SWOT Analysis
When you have this done, you’ll know exactly where your business is. Having answered the first question- ‘Where are we Now?’, you are in a better position to decide where you want your business to be next year and beyond. You’ll be able to decide your strategy based on the facts and you can set objectives to help your business survive or refocus. I’ll look at “How are we going to get there?” in my next post.