Why Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs Really Need A Solid Marketing Plan?

When I ask entrepreneurs and small business owners, it is not unusual for not having any marketing plan. I once read that Sir Richard Branson never had any marketing plan when he started the 1st Virgin business many years ago. In fact in one study of entrepreneurship (I couldn’t recall the name of the study) was that as much as 50% of entrepreneurs and business owners don’t have a business plan and marketing plan when they first started the business.

What was the outcome? As much as 90% businesses started by entrepreneurs and small business went busted or failed within a year. I experienced one of the many busts few years ago (with my cafe business) because i don’t really have a proper and “the few solid sheets” called a marketing plan.

Coming back to my questions to entrepreneurs and small business owners, many of their answers sounded like this, “I don’t really have one”, “It’s in my head coz I know the business so well” and worse, “I don’t know what is marketing plan”! If you happen to be in one of these categories, rest assured you are not the only one. And to perfectly honest, that’s the ultimate reason why I turned back to my writing board where I was actually in the middle of writing (rather perfecting!) a personal development programs. I dropped that program and quickly drafted and started Marketing Plan Breakthrough S6PEC because many of you need it, seriously.

But, I don’t specifically mean my own Marketing Plan S6PEC Framework because there are so many versions and gurus out there that can give you the benefit of marketing plan. Of course I am going to say mine is a lot better because it’s a practical and practitioner’s guide. Other than being a consultant, I also have performed marketing manager role, entrepreneur role, business manager role, investor and student of entrepreneurship (during my MBA!). But that’s not my main point. My main point is for you to have a marketing plan to guide your business. Which one? Well it is up to you!

So, to put things in perspective; why do you really need a marketing plan?

Guide
– in a marketing you will think, record and document all your ideas, products and services offering, price, distribution channel, programs, sales direction, customer segment and so on. I have experienced whereby I suddenly realized that my business is not going on the right direction because I didn’t follow my marketing plan. Have you experienced that? Or perhaps you suddenly realized that the thing you do know supposed to be done many months ago because you forgot about it? And you forgot because you don’t jot it down and plan for it? This is what I mean that marketing plan as a guide. I cover this in my Marketing Plan Breakthrough S6PEC.

Ideas
– people said the more you talk about your ideas the more refine it becomes. I think this is true. Did you ever experience when you talk to more people you generated a lot more ideas? When people give you feedback it triggers another dimension of your ideas? If you are, so where do you keep all these ideas? It should be in a marketing plan.

Resource Plan
– in marketing, there is only one thing that’s scarce: RESOURCES. Some people have a lot of money but lacked ideas and another group is the other extreme; more ideas and less money. Many of us probably the later than the former! In the marketing plan we will tackle things like people to hire, pricing, distribution plan, sales programs budget and so on.

Strategy
– similar to business strategy, marketing plan will capture strategies required to support your business strategy. For example if your business goal is to achieve 20% increase in sales, your marketing strategy would be to 1) introduce new product, 2) increase price for premium offerings, 3) recruit more distributors and offer commission scheme and so on. Strategy is king. When you can see your business in totality, I can assure you that you will find it easier to manoeuvre. Marketing plan is the place to address all these issues.

Risk
– in our marketing plan we shouldn’t only concern about making money or positive points, we also should address the risk we are taking. for example it is common for a marketing plan to capture things like, “require additional staff to handle sales call”, “additional investment from the management budget will increase chances of increasing 10% sales target” and many more. Imagine if you can factor your risk earlier and think through it, wouldn’t it be better for you?

Pricing
– I once said in my Marketing Plan Breakthrough S6PEC that, “Price is the key determinants of your profits”. I stand firm to keep it that way. In your marketing plan, you will address pricing plan for your distributors, customers, multiple segments (some business charge differently – price discrimination) and cost price i.e. your raw materials and things like that. Not many address price correctly and bear in my mind that we need to standby few pricing plan to respond to the market. Take for example during festive season, if everyone is lowering price and slashed their price or even ignited a price war, what do you do about that? Follow suit or wait? If you want to follow, how far? If you want to wait, how long? You capture all this in pricing plan.

Customer Segment
– this is talked about most of the time, but let’s accept the fact that today’s customers are fragmented to smaller niches. Your product and service will not be consumed by only one segment and at critical mass. it is likely to be consumed by smaller segment and multi. No more critical mass, but rather a solid spread of niches. For example, who buys iPod’s today? If Apple only think about yuppies they are making a big mistake because apparently iPod is also used by women and people with active lifestyle. Another example, who buys from hypermarket? If hypermarket only focuses on households they may not survive or be successful like today. Hypermarket main segment is actually small business restaurant operators that buy in larger quantity compare to households and on daily basis. I’ve been there, I know! LOL

Corrective Plan
– a marketing plan is a living document. Trust me, the moment you have it and experience planning your marketing, you will realize this. Therefore it is a plan that allows you to assess past strategies and results and at the same time allow you to make necessary corrective measures to fit your business growth. for example, who expected the 2008 financial crisis to hit us so badly? No one other than the few so called “economists” but how did responded to it? Severely. Many businesses closed including many giants. But the good thing is, many have a solid marketing and business plans, therefore they make quick corrective actions and moved forward.

Innovation
– I once sat in a meeting of project and business updates and suddenly one of the directors said, actually with all that we have now we can be in the medical device market. Violaaa!!! This medical device company used to service government hospitals and they have all the equipments. It’s just that they never thought of going direct to the hospitals and take the lion share of the business. In that meeting, after going through the company yearly updates, this “innovation” came instantaneously and the next year they are pitching about it to the government hospitals directly.

Imagine if you can do all these and manage all these in a marketing plan? Systematic, organized, well thought, innovative and captured all your pertinent business information, don’t you find having a marketing plan is useful for your business?

One thing about my business, I don’t sell templates. I only sell REAL content. I believe that template is only to give you the general overview of direction but not how-to do it. That’s why I highly not recommended you choose to download or purchase marketing templates because I have seen them i personally think it won’t help you much. Let me share you a recent story about template.

I have childhood friend who wanted to open a small business. I offered him my service at $$$ which is so much below market rate because we have been friends for 20 years. He said no, because he thinks there is another cheaper way to do it or in other words “resourceful is my middle name” kinda thing. So I let him do that. I offered him five days later that, if he needs me to view the marketing plan I will do it for free over tea. He showed me a marketing template he bought for USD 25 and all he got was a template!!! I scolded him and cursed the site that provided such thing. It was just boxes everywhere and not even a paragraph on how to fill those boxes. Well, this is what I mean and I defy being in that business because that’s cheating. By the way i got to do my friend’s job after that.:)

What I offered is much simpler, richer and with all the things you need. Firstly, my blog is to help you enhance and as a source to guide you on the marketing plan you purchase. Well, let’s don’t talk about purchase yet.

Would you want to view the actual content or maybe download the Marketing Plan Breakthrough S6PEC Introduction first? Please send your inquiry to [email protected] Information is FREE. Otherwise please go to http://www.marketingplanbook.com

Planning for the Discovery Meeting for Your Free Marketing Plan

If you plan on taking advantage of the offer for a free marketing plan, then you need to know what you have to get together before you have the discovery meeting with your consultant. Your consultant will then create your free marketing plan that will include recommendations for what additional marketing services can help your business.

What is a discovery meeting?

The discovery meeting brings you and the marketing professional together to talk about different marketing services offered. They will be looking to understand your business better – in its current state and your future vision. The marketing consultant will also explain the variety of marketing services offered so you will be better able to understand the final marketing plan when it is delivered.

What are some of the marketing services offered?

Marketing services go far beyond keyword research and website optimization. It can include everything from brand development, SEO consultation, telemarketing services, email marketing, white papers, publishing and more. A marketing plan doesn’t create a path from point A to Point B; it takes a dynamic approach to identifying the influences on your demographic to then create a multi-channel marketing web that is specific to your brand, product or service.

What do I need to have ready?

To prepare for your discovery meeting you first have to contact Marketing.com using their online form, chat option, or via email or phone. They will want a brief overview of your product and services, and then they will schedule the discovery meeting. For the discovery meeting you will want to bring along:

• The existing marketing plan or strategy
• Analysis reports
• SEO strategies
• Product/service descriptions
• Development descriptions
• Demographic information

The marketing professional will then be able to look at these and ask more specific questions to gain insight into what would be the best marketing services to include in your plan.

What makes up a marketing plan?

The marketing plan is the overview of multi-channel approaches you should be implementing to develop and retain your prospects. It may include a call for brand development and demand generation as well. If your existing strategy is somewhat successful, but you want to grow – the marketing services it recommends may be more focused on customer relations – such as social media marketing, email marketing and telemarketing services.

What happens next?

After your discovery meeting, your consultant will complete and finish your free marketing plan for you. Once you have reviewed the plan, it is time to decide what will be your strategy of implementation. This can involve an analysis of your competition to begin to prioritize what areas of your marketing need the most attention first. The strategies are considered dynamic and are responsive to the ongoing data analysis of your SEO performance that you should be collecting and reviewing on a regular basis. With your marketing plan to guide you with marketing services that will be effective for your business, you can increase your presence, influence and retention quickly.

Direct Marketing: The Business of the 21st Century

Direct marketing is truly the preferred business of the 21st century. Why? We are quickly discovering that we cannot rely on the standard of working for someone else, so it only makes sense that we would look to other resources to change our life. I am going to share with you more about direct marketing, how it works, and why people are turning to it for their livelihood.

What is it?

So, what is direct marketing? This type of marketing is no doubt different from what you are used to. The reality is that direct sales are what make a difference in the lives of others, from the perspective that you can sell to folks directly. People love being served and they like knowing that if there is a challenge with something they have purchased, that they can come to you directly for help.

Direct marketing is simply marketing something directly to an individual, and in some cases it can be a business. It doesn’t matter what the product is as long as it’s something that is needed by whomever you are marketing to. Over the years, this has been referred to as network marketing and even MLM, or multi-level marketing, which receives criticism from many people due to how it works, and how folks get paid.

The reality is that there isn’t anything wrong with direct marketing, and the truth is that if you are marketing a real, viable product that people need, then you have a business. Those who are encouraging you to recruit others without a product or service of value, are involved in pyramid schemes and should be avoided.

How it Works

Now that you know more about what direct marketing is, how does it really work? This type of marketing is actually rather simple, in that it includes a personal decision to sign up, get training for the product and service you are providing, make sales and also recruit other people to do the same. The more sales you make and the more people you recruit, the more you will get paid.

Direct marketing means that you yourself are marketing to the public. This can be done by traditional methods such as advertisement via radio, newspaper, or television. In these current times these advertising strategies are known as offline methods. Now that we are in the 21st century, marketing is changing, meaning that most of it is now online. This not only makes it easier to market to those you already know and have as customers, but you are also going to be able to market to those you don’t know more effectively by using the internet.

Imagine that now you have all of the opportunity in the world before you, and you don’t do anything with it. Shame on you, because this is why most folks who get involved in direct marketing DON’T make any money. Because you can now use the internet to make yourself known, you will be able to market to billions of people versus only a handful.

What’s Next?

Now that you know how you can make direct marketing work for you, are you ready to get involved? You can make good money in direct marketing, and it’s very satisfying.

Now that you know what direct marketing is and how to make it work effectively, you can get involved. It gives you the opportunity to earn money which is proportional to your efforts and build a rewarding and profitable business.

Benefits and Challenges of a Career in Direct Marketing

Internet or Direct marketing may be a new term in our dictionaries however it is not a new concept. Direct or Internet marketing is ‘the’ way to send a message to the customer directly through various channels that eliminate the middle men or indirect means to interact with the customer. This has been done since marketing began albeit in undefined ways and now with the advances in technology, Direct/Internet marketing has become the most preferred way to reach the customer directly to promote a product, a service, a company… a message.

Direct marketing is a preferred way of knowing how the intended product PR message is faring with the masses because the responses can be quite immediate. That is why with the increasing competitiveness in businesses and the need to reach out to the customers in a more effective manner, a career in direct or Internet marketing is a very rewarding. Everything depends on marketing and whether a product will sell or not and whether the masses will pay heed to a social awareness message or not, depends mainly on how well it has been marketed.

With the way the world is growing closer… not smaller… closer due to the internet and the ease of being able to find any sort of information online or through other channels like the mobile phone, emails on the internet, advertisements, and many more; sending a message to them directly is not a challenge. What could be better than actually communicating with your customers? The only challenge is that with many direct marketing strategies being used, people thinking of a career in direct marketing may have to resort to their creativity quite often and having that is definitely a plus.

Many people think that direct marketing is not an honest field to have a job in and that is mainly because many big and small companies and even individuals have misused the power of interacting with customers directly and flooded them with constant interactions. This has left a bad taste in customers’ mouths and most of them don’t like being contacted anymore. This makes the job quite difficult… but not impossible.

The thought that a career in direct marketing is not a good idea is right and wrong, based on where you’re looking at it from. If you plan to succumb to the unethical ways for short term but immediate profit by flooding the customers with constant messages and emails, then direct marketing may not be for you however, if you are creative and have a knack of creating relevant and quality communication, then direct or Internet marketing may just be the thing for you because that is what it is all about; effective communication.

With the amount of knowledge we can share today and the level of understanding we have towards various cultures, various age groups, and their demands, direct marketing is the best way to promote a product or a company and used effectively, this can be a very strong tool that may be difficult for the competition to beat.

If a person is interested in pursuing a career in direct or Internet marketing they need to find schools to make sure they learn the right tricks of the trade and understand the basics of this amazing phenomenon. Communication and a basic understanding of how the human mind gets motivated are the two very important tools for a direct marketer however a few other things that will be good to know are:

  • Mass media
  • Behavior change therapy
  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Marketing and communications

There are many more courses out there… you just need to find them and make the best of them to be a successful marketing person.