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Small Business Marketing Plans – Do One Annually

I think it is good advice to avoid clichés; however, occasionally we should throw caution to the wind and revitalize an old cliché. I am going to do that right now. No one seems to know where to credit this quote but I will use it anyway. “Those who fail to plan can plan to fail.” This is just as true for the small business woman or man and maybe more true for him or her. This article is geared toward the small business person, the entrepreneur that has from one to thirty employees. I realize that business that have upwards to five hundred employees can be considered small businesses and while this is true for them also, it is targeted at small local businesses; especially small business to business and business to consumer service businesses. This ranges from the local contractor, IT service provider or accountant, to the local attorney, engineer or chiropractor…and it is not just failing to plan business wise in general, these businesses should do marketing plans on an on going basis.

This plan should be somewhere between a formal five page document and Jay Levinson’s seven sentence marketing plan. Don’t get me wrong, Guerilla Marketing is a great book and the seven sentence marketing plan is a must but, I am suggesting that the plan be a little more formal and a little more detailed. Furthermore it should be shared with every person who plays a role in the business. One of the most important parts of this marketing plan should be a one sentence position statement. This should be the ideal of what you want to accomplish for your clients or customers. A good template for this sentence would be as follows; Name of your company is a ______ firm dedicated to ______ ______ ______. When you fill in the blanks it should send a message to your prospective customer that says “they have what I need.” In fact everyone connected with your business should have the position statement memorized so that they can recite it every time they get a chance.

You can go on the web and find many marketing plan templates and marketing plans that you can use as a guide and, while you are at it, use your common sense. Don’t include a section just because it is there. Make sure that it has actionable steps that can be understood by all of the people connected with your success. That is the key word here; actionable. The reason is that it will take actions to reach your goals.

Finally, keep it flexible. It should be a fluid document that you can update with any situation that may arise in your market climate. Be always watching and evaluating your competition and continually creatively find ways to set your self apart. It may mean that you have to offer something new so the marketing plan can change; no expect that it will change. Hopefully I have inspired, nudged, cajoled you into starting a new plan today. Do it even if you are merely restating a plan that has been working for a long time.

Increase Your Profits and Cut Your Budget With the Right Marketing Plan Template

The perfect marketing plan template can make success with your business about half as hard to accomplish. Most businesses that are not doing well came into the entrepreneur game only have equipped. You have to have smart marketing. Placing ads in Yellow Pages might get your name out there, but who is looking at it. Do you even know?

There are three major areas of a good marketing plan template that need to be perfected:

  1. Direct Marketing
    • These marketing methods include postcards, mail, flyers, etc. These marketing methods work as long as you do them right. It can be some what of an art to have a perfect direct marketing plan, but it is needed.
    • Want to know the trick to perfect direct marketing? Know your customer inside and out. You are going to have to entice the reader with words and words only. Knowing what your customer likes, dislikes, where they go, what triggers their emotions, and why they would choose you are all aspects that you should be in touch with. Each industry will have different emotions to trigger and different approaches to take.
    • Direct marketing is not a one time thing. You should be setting up long term campaigns that either reiterate previous messages or build upon each other. Remember when doing direct mail, the first obstacle is to get them to actually open the mail. Be aware of the packaging and envelope you use. It could make a difference. Second objective is for the reader to do what it says. This goes back to knowing your customer.
  2. Business to Business Marketing
    • Using the resources of local non-competing businesses is a great way to boost sales quickly. There is nothing like networking.
    • Make sure both parties will benefit from what you offer and approach them. They are no different then you. They just want their business to grow as well. You could trade services, products, promotions, or best of all customer databases.
    • Here’s an example: A local gardener is looking for new clients. The gardener, knowing the power of business to business marketing, approaches a local landscaping/hardware store. He leverages offering his services at 75% of the cost to anyone that the store sends him. To make sure of this, he places “exclusive membership” cards or fliers in a visible area of the store. The store gets to the chance to offer lower gardening service then anyone else and the gardener just probably quadrupled his prospect list.
  3. Internet Marketing
    • The new way to generate huge business is internet marketing. I’m sure you have all heard of what I’m talking about. I know it can be scary to learn the new technology or learn the new methods, but it’s worth every penny! It will be a huge part of your success in the next 10 years. DON’T FORGET THAT!
    • A good marketing plan template is going to need internet marketing included. A large chunk of customers research your business on the web before ever contacting you. Just think if you don’t have a website and they see your competitor listed on the page. Who do you think they are going to call?
    • If you don’t want to learn internet marketing, you can easily find marketing companies or business consultants that can lead you in the right direction on what needs done.

Filling every aspect of this marketing plan template can lead your business to huge success. You can’t focus on just one area though. Each industry could react differently to the methods of marketing. Test which works best and make that your main priority, but keep the other campaigns going. Each of these three methods are highly effective in all markets. To recap, create a direct mailing campaign to mail once/twice a month for the next 6 months, contact 20 non-competing businesses offer them something they can’t refuse, and get a website up and going.