Marketing no longer means going to the grocery store. It’s a broad term used by businesses that can encompass everything from letterhead and logos to contests and tradeshows. Is it any wonder that people with great ideas for products or services often get tripped up or discouraged when asked about their marketing plan?
In a nutshell, your marketing plan is the strategy, or actions and materials, you use to attract new customers and sales. Ideally, you develop an ongoing relationship with your customer by building a foundation of trust in you, and in your product. The process can feel complex and somewhat overwhelming at its inception, but, once mastered, can yield amazing results.
The truth is if you have any successful friendships (which I know you do) you already know the basic premise behind building solid relationship foundations. It is that relationship that compels your potential customers to take action and purchase your products and services… again and again.
To help you develop a winning formula and create a successful marketing plan, follow these guidelines:
- Strategize your method of delivery. You have to get your message and your brand into the marketplace. When deciding how and when to deliver your materials, remember that people are busy, suffering from information overload and you have a limited amount of time to capture their attention. (Usually just a few seconds.) Once you pique their curiosity you can provide them with more material but don’t overwhelm them by asking them to digest it all at once.
- Understand your buyer and their needs. Take the time to research, listen to feedback and predict what your customers want and need. Flexibility is the key here. Your buyers might want more from you than what you originally had to offer… figure out how to get it to them and you’ve got a repetitive and reliable customer.
- Highlight your uniqueness. Let your customers know what makes you different and emphasize those differences in your messages. Small differences presented effectively can be the determining factor.
- Concentrate on developing the emotional connection. Invite your customers to get to know you on a personal level. People prefer to do business with other people rather than invisible corporations. Make sure you have a visible and personalized profile. Write about yourself in your blogs and newsletters and include photos of yourself.
- Monkey see, monkey do. There’s no need to start from scratch when developing a marketing plan. Analyze successful tactics from other businesses and mimic the strategies they utilize. Choose a method and modify it to fit the needs of your audience and the products and services you provide.
- Telling versus selling. Connections are easily established when people feel they have something in common. When you market your message by telling a story your audience can more easily relate to you. And besides, who doesn’t love a good story?
Think of your marketing plan as your roadmap to success. Figure out where your audience wants to go (understand your buyers needs), describe why they should go on this trip (tell them a story), emphasize why riding with you is the best option (highlight your uniqueness), select a comfortable and reliable mode of transportation (your method of delivery), find out what they hope to see along the way (give ’em what they want), choose a route (no need to build new roads to get from point A to B), take some photos along the way (enhance the emotional connection), ask them where they want to go next and remind them of all the fun you had on your trip.
Until next time… happy trails and I hope to see you on the road!
Donna Kozik is a two-time award winning author who has been featured in Woman’s Day, Women’s World, Teen People, The L.A. Times, The Baltimore Sun, NPR’s “Marketplace” and other media. She now shows others how to write and publish a book fast and easy to use as a “big business card.” She does this through “Write a Book in a Weekend” live and virtual events.
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