Owning your own business is very exciting, and being an entrepreneur is no small task. The dictionary defines an “Entrepreneur” as a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk. I honor you for taking a risk to start your own business and I know how hard you’ve worked to get to this point. But starting a business is the easy part. Ensuring it’s a success will take a strategy and a marketing plan.
In the past 20+ years of my career in marketing, I’ve written hundreds of marketing plans and discovered that the success of a business is directly tied to just 3 things.
What information should be included in your annual plan?
Deciding that you want to post on Facebook or Instagram isn’t a marketing plan. It’s like going to the dentist and asking him to only floss your teeth. Flossing isn’t a dental plan and social media isn’t a marketing plan. These are just tasks and tools used to achieve your goal. Creating a comprehensive marketing plan requires three things.
Every business owner thinks their product or service is the best and that everyone should buy their product or service. But thinking something is the best is subjective. It’s an opinion. And what makes you successful isn’t about being the best. It’s about being different and having a unique solution to your customers’ problems.
You have something special and a story to tell. Identifying what this is and focusing on your brand and not everyone else will keep you laser-focused on selling your unique product or service. Understanding this will help you to understand why you are important to help your customers.
To get a better understanding of who you are and what makes you different, you also need to know who your competition is. Every business has around 5 direct competitors. Even if they don’t sell the same products or services as you, you may be in competition with an alternative product or service. Did you know that your competition’s biggest weakness is your biggest strength? Being able to identify what makes you different from your competition will determine how to craft your marketing message.
Know Your Customer
If you could create your dream customer, who would it be? I know what you’re thinking. “Everyone is my customer.” In very rare cases, is EVERYONE your customer. Narrowing down your audience to the specific niche you serve doesn’t limit your audience; it tells your perfect customer that you’re for them. When you’re for everyone, you’re for no one. Don’t believe me?
Imagine you sell dog food. Is everyone your customer? Think about who ISN’T your customer. Children. Cat owners. People who don’t own any pets. Your customer is adults who own dogs. Now you can build a persona or avatar around that customer.
Developing buyer personas or understanding your ideal customer avatar will allow you to get a better understanding of the type of person buying your products or services. Are they male or female? Young or old? Are they well educated? Employed? Have hobbies? What keeps them up at night and how will your product or service help to solve their problems. Make your marketing efforts about them, not you. And knowing who your customer is will help you to understand what and where to market yourself.
If you need a little help understanding your ideal customer, read this article and download the guide to identifying your dream customer.
Create a Plan
Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.” Does this mean that if you don’t have a marketing plan that you’ll be a failure? Of course not. But if you have a plan to achieve your goal, the likelihood of success is infinitely greater than if you don’t have a plan.
The first thing you need to create a plan is a clear goal. Research shows that when people write down their goals regularly, they are 42% more likely to achieve them. But even for those who do write down their goals, one step that’s often overlooked is creating an actionable plan. I can write down a goal to run a marathon, but unless I create a plan that includes diet, exercise, and training, I’m going to be sitting on my couch with my written goal in hand and no idea of how to reach the goal.
Your plan should break down the strategies and tactics needed to achieve the goal. It should also include timeframes and budgets. Preplanning these elements and including them in your marketing plan will help you stay on time and on budget. Without this information in your marketing plan and you run the risk of not achieving your goal on time and you may spend more money without being aware of it.
Now that you have a clear understanding of who you are and why you’re different, exactly who your ideal customers are, and a plan to reach your goal, you’re on your way to making your business a success and taking it to the next level. Your business is one of a kind, and your marketing plan should be as unique as you are. Download the marketing plan tool kit below to create your customized plan.