In conducting workshops, speaking and working with clients there is a great deal of confusion about marketing vs. selling. Many business owners mistake marketing with the process of going to the market to sell your service or product. As a result very few small business owners have a written marketing plan. In the competitive and crowed market place many of us operate in the lack of a plan is a recipe for FAILURE!
So what is a marketing plan? It is a well thought out written document that is a roadmap to drive your activities that result in securing new clients. Without a precise evalutation of exactly what is your target market, what they desire and how to differentiate your company from the competition, your business will get lost in the crowd. This results in a weak prospect pipeline and inability to reach your goals.
If one wants to construct a more complete marketing plan, her is a sample of the questions to ask yourself:
What need in the market place are we fulfilling?
What need or desire is not being met by our competitors?
How can we position ourselves to meet this need?
Do we have a clear concise plain language message?
What specific niche or market are we serving?
How do I identify and communicate our unique difference?
How do I package my business?
Do I really have a ‘system” for lead generation?
Examination of these questions coupled with others can change the entire face of one’s business. One example is in networking. The most frequent complaint is ” I go to all these events and meet a lot of people but it rarely brings me any business.” What can we expect, if we have not answered the questions above and have not identified our market then how can we expect potential prospects or networking partners to do that?
One other important challenge is that most small businesses do not have a broad marketing action plan to build their awareness. Most of their marketing is what I call “me too” marketing which is simply copying what everyone else is doing and is not working. A solid and successful action plan can only be built after answering the key questions above. While this process can be time consuming the return on investment will be extraordinary.
In summary, if you want to make a significant leap forward in your business then begin by developing a written marketing plan.