Why do entrepreneurs need a marketing plan? It’s simple. It acts as the blueprint for how you will do business and drive growth. Without a blueprint it is hard to measure achievement much less increase profitability. Many of the principles learned in business school have application in an entrepreneurs world. However, many start ups have strengths outside of formal business training.
Many entrepreneurs start off as ‘solopreneurs’ — one woman or one man shows. In the process it is necessary to wear multiple hats and become a salesman, marketer, researcher (and the list goes on). My goal is to shoot straight, address key points and minimize fluff. Fluff doesn’t yield healthy margins. In doing so I’ve trimmed the fat on my marketing plan. A simple and user friendly marketing plan should consist of 6 key areas:
1. Situational Analysis (SWOT)
Discuss your product/service, the value proposition and market served. Take inventory of four key areas: your strengths, weaknesses, market opportunities and threats (i.e. Barriers to Entry, Competition)
2. Target Audience
I recommend starting broad and drilling down into the niche target your product/service will benefit. A review of the industry served followed by Customers (segmenting if necessary), and the Category (if applicable).
3. Objectives & Goals
Focus on the big picture. What are you trying to achieve with your marketing efforts? This is the overarching umbrella under which everything is developed. (i.e. To increase sales of widgets by 10%)
Decide how you will carry out your Objectives. (i.e. Increase awareness vis-a-vis targeted advertising).
These are your foot soldiers that should be set for battle at the front lines. Hence, you can accomplish your strategies through focused tactics. A small business with limited resources may want to focus on Advertising, Promotions, PR, Trade Shows, Direct Response, etc. However, its more productive to list all of your ideas in buckets and then pick the top tactic that is the easiest to accomplish. From there work your way up.
Find a way to fund your mission. Decide on a reasonable and obtainable budget and stick to it. If you’ve already experienced some sales growth — reinvest in your business. The industry average for marketing budget allocation as a percentage of sales is 2-10%.
Once you’ve outlined your blueprint don’t try to go at it alone. Elicit the help of others that support you. One step at a time. One day at a time. That’s the bright side of a great marketing plan — a blueprint simple enough for execution.