Marketing Plan Essentials for a Successful Business

A marketing plan enables you to draw an outline of the techniques to be employed in order to achieve the goals of your online business. Without a plan, the business will have no direction.

So why is it necessary to develop a marketing strategy?

  • To have a roadmap: The plan is a guide to realizing both your short-term and long-term visions for your business. You will be able to develop the right techniques for reaching out to your target market. The plan gives your business a sense of direction.
  • For branding: The marketing plan helps you in planning out the best methods of building the brand of your business. If for example your target market is college students, then the plan should be focused on branding your business as an entity for college students.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Developing a strategic plan for managing the resources of your online business can significantly reduce the operating costs. The plan makes the activities of your business more organized and efficient. You will be able to reap more for less.
  • Stability: The plan makes you business more stable in an unpredictable marketing environment. The online business environment is dynamic and new trends in marketing emerge every day. A well developed plan enables you to integrate the new trends and take advantage of them. You will be able to avoid reactionary marketing strategies which are usually ineffective in face of stiff competition.

Most online start-ups fail within the first year of their operation due to failure to create an effective marketing strategy. A great plan can enable a small start-up to be on the same level with already established online businesses.

Let’s take it a step further and discuss the essentials in developing a reliable marketing plan:

  • Determine your target market: You should identify your target market. Conduct a market research for establishing the right customers for the product or services offered by your online business. This will enable you to determine the best way to reach out to potential clients.
  • Branding: You should be consistent in creating brand recognition for your business. Marketing online should be centered on creating a unique business personality that can resonate to potential customers. All marketing efforts should be focused on creating a recognizable identity for your online business.
  • Goals and objectives: Set short-term and long-term goals for promoting your online business. The marketing plan should be drawn from the goals of your business. Goals also help in defining the budgetary allocation to your marketing campaign.
  • Budget: Work out the budget for your business. Map out your monthly and annual budgetary needs. Determine the costs of running a marketing campaign which should be in line with both your short-term and long-term goals.

And, don’t forget about the 4 P’s of Marketing: Product, Place, Price and Promotion — the graphic below has key

It is important that you satisfy all of these when creating a marketing strategy.

Embracing a good marketing strategy guarantees you of a ready market for your products and services. It also makes your enterprise successful and on a competitive edge by addressing the market forces of demand and supply. Once you have formulated the perfect marketing strategy and have the right product being offered at the best price, at the most convenient location and using the best promotional tactics, you get an edge over your competitors. All you need to stay at the top is adapt to the changing environment.

Creating a marketing strategy can take about an hour to do — and it can be the BEST hour you’ve spent on your business yet! Get in there, set your goals, create a marketing plan and stick to it!

To your success,

April

Create a Sales and Marketing Plan for Your Agency

The current market conditions for insurance are rather ambiguous. It seems that the “soft market” is on its last legs, but the uncertainty of political changes and issues like mold, asbestos and terrorism make it difficult to guess at long term trends. So, what can the typical independent insurance agent and broker do in order to succeed? What are the basic ingredients to a well written sales & marketing plan?

Know Thyself

The best starting point is to first define the insurance agency’s “personality.” The “personality” of an agency is the book of business and it will in turn define what to look for from the various markets and the selection of new markets to represent. For example, a large urban agency that sells only very large commercial accounts will have different expectations than a small town agency that sells all lines of insurance.

Start by finding out what the split of business is along each line: personal, commercial, life, group benefits and program business, etc. Then calculate the average size of account for each line. Also, how much of the agency business comes from the top ten accounts? Finally, analyze the distribution of business and identify the top five industries.

List the breakdown of the current book of business by line of business, top ten accounts and key industries. Calculate the current percentage of the overall book for that line of business. Is the mix of business healthy for the agency? This is a judgment call for the owners. Niche selling is usually more profitable, however, it is also riskier. If the agency has a lot of small accounts, the procedures in place for selling and servicing them are critical in order to make a profit.

It is important to distance oneself from the book of business and objectively ask the question “is this book valuable enough the way it is or should its composition be changed?” If it needs to be changed, what should the agency target? This depends on the expertise of the producers and service staff, as well as the appetite of the firm’s current markets. Write down those future targets next to the current composition. This thought process is what separates the entrepreneur from the average person.

How Much Can You Grow?

It is important to review the new sales for the agency overall and for each producer. An experienced producer in a typical agency should generate at least $30,000 to $50,000 in new commission dollars each year, depending on their size of book. For large firms with large accounts, the amount would be much higher, maybe even $100,000 in new commissions.

The hit ratio of each producer needs to be determined. Hit ratios less than 25% to 33% costs the agency a lot of time and money. The technique of producers with low hit ratios needs to be checked and adjusted. Often, the producer fails to pre-qualify the prospect. Sometimes producers just are not approaching businesses that match up with the products the agency has expertise in writing, nor markets that are competitive for those classes of business. Use the successful producers as a model.

The agency may have tremendous sales, however if there is loss of business through attrition, much of the effort for new sales is wasted. Calculate the attrition rate for the agency and each producer. The goal should be around 10% or less attrition for the typical property/casualty insurance agency. Higher attrition rates are usually an indication that the business the agency writes is transient and either the clients are price shopping or not good risks.

When writing a sales & marketing plan, list the current overall hit ratio, average new business produced and the average book of business in the agency. Write next to those numbers the target for next year. Below that list write two or three actions that need to be accomplished to reach those goals.

Market Relations

If the current uncertainty in the marketplace continues, the insurance carriers will be making a lot of changes, such as tightening up on underwriting or pulling out of certain markets. Today’s agent or broker needs to have a clear understanding of what the carriers can do for them and how this fits into the overall agency plan.

Run a list of all of the carriers with volumes, commission rates (or commissions), loss ratios and contingents received. Analyze how the agency’s book of business stacks up with the existing markets. Compare all the carriers and their products against what the agency has with the top ten industry groups the agency writes.

Some of the questions that should be asked include: will volume commitments be met and how will it be done, are there new markets the firm should seek out, is the volume spread too thick or too thin, is the agency maximizing profit sharing agreements?

In the sales & marketing plan also list the five most important markets (not necessarily the largest) and the agency’s volume with them. Write realistic agency production goals for the next 12 months next to those numbers. Then, list one or two markets that you do not have, but feel the agency could use. Write down next to those names the date you will approach them. Finally, list two or three markets that the agency has outgrown and should get rid of.

Take Responsibility

Agents & brokers are dependent upon insurance companies for the insurance products that the agency sells. A strong relationship with the carriers is imperative. The key to any good relationship is communication. Agencies must have a well-organized plan to communicate with each carrier. Some insurance companies communicate better than others do, so the independent agent needs to take full responsibility to ensure a dialogue occurs.

Agencies need to take a proactive approach to managing company relations. Good relations cannot be allowed to stagnate, and weak relations must be built up. Agency owners need to evaluate which companies they should do business with to meet their needs for competitive, responsive markets.

Both parties need to grow, and relationships of the past may no longer meet the needs of today, especially if either party has targeted certain classes of business that aren’t of interest to the other. Resources should not be wasted on maintaining relationships with carriers that offer little benefit to the agency. Companies continue to limit the number of agencies they do business with, often to better utilize their resources and to reduce costs.

Take Action

So how does an agency keep the communication open with its markets and perhaps become a “preferred” agent? Create a process that makes it easy for management to focus on company relationships. The first step is to assign an individual or two from the firm to each carrier as that carrier’s “relationship manager.”

Responsibilities for the management of the firm’s top carriers should be divided up among the owners and/or a key non-owner producer or CSR, depending on whom has the best relationship with each carrier. Overall carrier relationship management should always be a major focus for all owners; however, dividing up the duties with others in the firm will insure that the steps are implemented.

A specific action plan should include job assignments, planned visits, information and data to communicate, and a budget to implement the plan. Keep in mind that it takes time and money to nurture a successful company relationship. It’s important to keep track of the plan and make sure it is followed. Even a strong relationship will eventually die if it is neglected.

The collection and presentation of information and data is a significant step since it will set the tone of the communication. Agencies that are prepared and well informed will create an immediate interest in the company representatives, since unfortunately, most agencies fail to do their homework.

Stop By to Say Hello

Take the Sales & Marketing Plan directly to the insurance company representative. Set an annual meeting to discuss agency goals and future opportunities. In this annual meeting, the agency principal in charge of markets and the relationship manager for that carrier should meet face to face with the regional vice president or branch manager of each contract company and the main underwriter assigned to the agency.

There are three objectives for this meeting: 1) inform the company’s management about the current status of the agency and future plans; 2) find out where the company stands now and its plans for the future; and 3) discuss how the agency and the company can do more business together in the future.

There should be follow-up meetings to discuss progress on the agency-company game plan on at least a quarterly basis.

Both parties need to be open and frank. The agency Sales & Marketing plan should be reviewed and discussed at the meeting. Reasonable goals and commitments for future business need to be established. Relay the highlights of the meeting back to the agency staff.

Plan ongoing carrier “schmoozing” activities to enhance the relationship. It is easier to develop a relationship if parties meet often, and social visits are especially effective. The whole agency needs to be involved with fostering good relations with the markets.

Ask the companies to fill out a report card on the agency in order to identify the carriers’ perceptions of the firm. Discuss what the firm can do to improve the existing relationship and to write more business. Determine how the agency can take advantage of the value-added services offered by the carriers, such as financing, training, etc.

SUMMARY

Now, more than ever before, it is extremely important for insurance companies and owners of agencies/brokerages to build partnerships that are responsive to the business plans established each year by each party. Building improved relationships needs to be a two-way street.

It is easy to get this relationship-building program underway and it really works. Responsibilities for this program must be shared and communication needs to be flowing within the firm, within the carrier and between each other. Improved communication and a focus on improving relationships will save time and will make both parties more money, guaranteed.

Agencies without a sales & marketing plan are totally reactive to their environment and have little control over their future. Firms that incorporate an annual planning process tend to be more efficient, more profitable and highly valued businesses. The choice is yours. Take the time to plan ahead and be successful or be at the mercy of the winds of change.

Reasons for Making Mobile Marketing Your Priority

In the marketing arena, marketers are always on the lookout for great things that will keep them ahead of their competitors in the market. You do not have to worry anymore because the solution lies in your purse or the pocket. We are living in an era where mobile marketing is bringing forth a tremendous opportunity for marketers to a greater level. Cell phones help the marketer to reach wider audiences in real time and on a personal level, which is a different engagement you cannot find in other communication channels.

Significance of Mobile Marketing to Businesses

According to the recent most statistics, almost all customers own a mobile device. Seventy percent of the customers have a mobile phone, seventy-five percent own a laptop, and fifty-five percent own a tablet. At least seventy percent of this population uses their mobile devices for accessing the internet and not the laptop. With an increase in the population of smartphone users, the number of devices in the world exceeds the current population.

Using the mobile device is the most viable option, and marketers need to make adjustments towards this medium as many users possess these devices. The extensive use of mobile devices among customers is a growing and crucial part of the market. It helps in unlocking the potential held in the massive, captive, expanding, and engaged audience.

Nowadays, many companies are taking the full advantage of this option as it is the new thing in the market. In case your brand is not in mobile marketing, you need to make sure that you get a bandwagon as your competitor will leave you behind. Below are some reasons as to why businesses have to give priority to mobile marketing.

i. Social media offers a platform for adverts

Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms have understood the potential that resides in mobile marketing. They have recognized this potential and have evolved their adverts platforms for you to target mobile customers efficiently. All you need to do is clicking a button to start. This change will take a few minutes if you use social media marketing.

ii. Mobile Advertising Reaches New and Broad Audiences

The number people who are using mobile advertising exclusively are increasing. If your business is not using mobile advertising, then you are not going to reach your target audience and potential customers.

iii. Retailers are Getting Mobile Arrangements Wrongly

The news around nowadays shows how retailers are struggling to keep their profit margins high as a result of poor returns. Most retailers have taken their employees and shareholders by surprise in recent years because of a massive decrease in sales and net profits. Such companies view mobile marketing and e-commerce as an option when they are planning their budget. However, despite the vast opportunities the channel gives, the retailers struggle in investing in mobile marketing which makes them fall into the rat race of dwindling sales and profits.

iv. Mobile Devices are Growing Online Growth

With improving internet infrastructure and escalating smartphone penetration in the world, mobile devices have become a primary method that consumers use as a gateway to accessing the internet. Recent research shows that internet access by use of smartphones is a daily action for more than 83% of all users in the world.

v. Google Advice Retailers to Use Mobile Marketing

The main reason that will make you start mobile advertising is the Google Mobilegeddon update which penalizes websites which have not begun to put mobile marketing into consideration. Your site has to be easy to browse and responsive on mobile devices. In simple terms, your site will get a slap from Google by going down in the search engine ranks. These penalties are getting stricter with time, and your company has to take necessary measures before feeling the impact.

vi. It is Personal

It is hard to get brand close to the audiences when you are doing it behind a computer. Using mobile devices is however different. These devices are special accessories which people carry along at all times. They provide a different physical aspect as compared to other media.

This form of marketing is personalized because it allows retailers get closer to consumers. You will have a high chance of converting these people into high-paying customers. For now, mobile marketing is in the market to stay, and researchers say that it will be gaining momentum as time goes. Businesses and firms that are waiting will find it hard to get on board making them spend a lot of money.

vii. You Have the Chance Of Hitting Them Time and Again

In case your strategy is targeting desktops, you need to put in mind that there is a possibility that your audience is also using mobile devices. Therefore, it might take a few attempts to reach and resonate with customers. In case you miss the laptop chance, use the smartphone to get him/her and convert the viewer.

viii. It is Getting Costlier With Time

Facebook advertising is the best example when looking at what might happen in the event an advertising method has grown in popularity. Costs have continued rising in the recent past for no good reason. However, you might attribute it to the increase in the market competition.

The mobile marketing space is similar; you will have to engage it now or later. It is advisable to do it now because tasting costs are quite affordable than wait for the future when you will have to break the bank before gaining any return.

ix. Mobile Advertising Opens Up Possibilities and Virtual Realities

Including exciting technologies such as virtual reality will make mobile ads more useful and engaging. The vast options show that it is easy to make a profit from this channel. Therefore, you need to understand that there exists an opportunity for all businesses in all industries.

x. Mobile Marketing is Large and Has Taken Charge

Recently mobile advertising had gone back to face to face mode of shopping. When the internet became populous, the mobile has once again hit the market spending a lot by the use of mobile devices. Research says that by 2018, more than 25% of business profits will be coming from mobile devices. Therefore, mobile advertising is a modest way of ensuring you get profit as people are always ready to purchase via their smartphones.

Successful Film Marketing Strategies

“It’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it”.
— Roger Ebert

Unlike any other art, Films have a much greater impact on human’s mental consciousness. It holds the capability to impose an emotional instability in human minds. This is why it is said that movie making is more about observing and imagining. Now in this century, Filmmaking is not just about the script, screenplay and all. It comprises of lot many other factors. In Fact, a successful film promotion is merely about the Film marketing strategies related to that.

So, what is film marketing?

Many of us believe that the success of a film is all about how well it run in theaters.Well, I would say, Film marketing is all about driving the desired audience unto the theaters. Sometimes called film junket or press junket, Film marketing consists of various elements such as press releases, advertising, interviews, media involvements and most prominently Social Medias nowadays.

It’s no longer about Television, Print, and Outdoor

This is more like an enlightenment for every filmmaker these days. Back then, an efficient Film marketing strategy was all about the television, prints and all. But now it has changed, because, in order to reach the audience you need to find them at first. Today, it’s all about the internet.You need to find more people, you better go online, as simple as that.

Film Marketing strategies went digital

Well, it’s not a big surprise factor that film industries have adopted Digital Marketing techniques as a part of well structured Film Marketing Strategies. In fact, movie studios are moving beyond the typical techniques such as teasers, trailers and lot more by conducting Google hangouts with the crew, live streaming music launches, contests and so on.And the most interesting fact is that the spend on Film marketing Digital strategies has risen enormously these years.

I believe there are three major stages in a successful film marketing strategy, introducing, interacting and involving. Digital Media has involvement in all these three stages, great involvement indeed.

Search engine optimization for an effective film marketing strategies

Search engine optimization as an overall term for all the works and efforts we are investing on to the promotion of any services/products are not negligible. Unlike any other Digital marketing campaigns, Film marketing deserves more conviction as well as perception, even in its promotional campaigns.There are so many factors involved in this ranging from keywords to social media.

How Social media influence the way movies are marketed?

As a part of Digital marketing strategy, Social media has become one of the ‘behind the change’ reason, as films can gain a huge amount of buzz through it. It means, there is no longer need to rely on official reviews and adverts to know about the latest releases. Here is a quick review of few film marketing strategies in relation to social media.

Leaked images- Even though this seems to be an outdated technique, it still works. This kind of techniques is used probably for the promotion of superhero movies. The theory behind this tactic is that the movie producers will generate some excitement, years before the release of their films through leaked images. As the images would not reveal much more about the movie and characters, yet will definitely create a huge amount of online publicity and chatter.

Visual micro content- This is more like an emotional way of marketing, I would say. A movie called ‘If I stay’ recently implement this film marketing idea very successfully. The initial step towards this kind of campaign is always targeting the right social media platforms. And then generating visual micro content suitable for the platform. Sharing the banners, posting the behind the scenes pictures are also effective.

Content marketing campaign- Content is always effective and it’s definite that it will bring some results to you. Once again it is more related to social media channels. Even if a film marketing strategy is all about the kind of film to which we are dealing with, content is always helpful. One can also try local news stations, discussion boards and more along with Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and so.

Video marketing- Very familiar, much effective, this is how one could interpret the role of video marketing Film marketing strategies. No matter what, we are ready to take chances on some products that we have not seen or tested properly, this is why the trailers are significant. It gives an initial impression and it’s a proven success. And I recommend seeing your trailer video initially through your official website, which obviously allows the audience to make more interaction through your social media mediums.

Social competitions and quizzes- It will become a huge disaster if you believe that the introduction part is enough.The fact is that you will miss the entire party. Interaction is very significant especially when coming to Film marketing. It may not be the most innovative thing you can do to improve the engagement but it can very effective at times.

Persona marketing- Your film will certainly have some interesting character that the audience could connect with in one way or another.Lot many Film marketing campaigns have already played on the audience’s emotions for particular fictional characters by developing a persona around those characters on social media. A Perfect example for this is the Ted character in the Twitter. With almost 7 lakh followers, Ted began posting some funny comments which in fact brought some unexpected results.

Alternate reality games- A slightly more complicated and deep Film marketing strategy is Alternate reality games (ARGs). This develops a fictional world that the users in the real world may interact with by using online communities. ARGs is a wonderful way to get your movie audiences involved and thereby creating ‘brand loyalty.

Make use of memes and other UGC Forms- This is more like a mutual beneficial Film marketing strategy. Memes are offering a great marketing opportunity, in such a way that your audience will create some highly shareable content that conclusively benefits your Film promotional strategies. The benefit of using memes is that they are easily customizable as well as quick to produce. Yet another possible strategy is to use caption contests, fan art or any other effective user-generated content tactics.

Google AdWords for the more targeted outcome- Each day, millions and millions of movie related searches are made in Google. I would say, the quickest way to reach those people is always Google AdWords.Even if it is not much of a cost effective way, it definitely is an option for those who care about reaching more targeted audiences.

Final thoughts

How powerful the visual media is or How much impact it can impose on humanity? The answer to his question is always about how well it reach the people. And Film marketing or Movie promotion is the beacon that leads to this destination.

Cheers
Team eetti