How to Prepare An Easy Marketing Plan for Your Small Business

As a small business owner, I imagine you would not have the time to prepare a detailed marketing plan. Some business owners might not have a plan at all. However, I personally think a marketing plan is necessary for the success of your business. But, you do not need a 10-pages-or-more plan. I always develop a plan with no more than 3 pages that highlights major key points. On a marketing strategy level, Tim Berry has suggested a framework of “thinking” on how to develop a marketing plan. Those steps are basic and not difficult. His suggestions should act like a guideline for you to start with. He encouraged you to think about what you want to achieve, your strengths and weaknesses, your unique offerings, your target markets, and how you want people to perceive about your brand.

To make it simple, I would also like to suggest that you incorporate your promotion plan in a marketing plan. This way, you will have everything you need in one place for the whole year. Jeff Williams provided a short list of what you need for promotions in his article – How to create a powerful promotional plan for your 50+ business.

Let’s put all of them into easy-to-develop steps, shall we? In your marketing plan, you might want to split into two main sections: an overall marketing plan and a promotion plan.

Section 1: Marketing Plan. You should at least have the following items in a plan.

  • Marketing Objectives: What do you want to achieve this year? It could be… To generate $ in revenue or To gain 10% market share.
  • Unique Selling Proposition: What make your offerings different from your competitors? Lower cost? Better distribution channels? Price? Products?
  • Target Markets: Please be clear about your target markets. You do not have a lot of resources to invest in mass market.
  • Communication Channels: Your target markets should determine how you plan to communicate with them. It will save you a lot of money if you are clear about who your customers are.
  • Budget: Many businesses determine their marketing budget as a percentage of the total revenue for a year. Alternatively, you might want to set a “ceiling” that your marketing spends would not be higher than $$$$.

Section 2: Promotion Plan. To prepare a promotion plan, you need to understand your business cycle or season. Basically, you need to know when to spend money to boost sales and when to save the money. If you own a restaurant, for example, you might want to spend the marketing money during slow periods e.g. in February or May. What you need in your plan can be as simple as a spreadsheet with the following fields:

  1. Month
  2. Launch date
  3. Promotion: e.g. buy 1 get 1 free
  4. Points of Difference: why should your customers be excited?
  5. Target Group
  6. Communication channels: this is very important. You could have the best promotion in the world but it would do nothing for you if your communication channels are ineffective.
  7. Promotion Budget
  8. Results: e.g. sales volume
  9. Return on Investment (ROI): [(sales volume-cost of promotion)/cost of promotion]. If your ROI is lower than bank saving interest rates, you should rethink about your promotions because it’s easier to get the same return by simply depositing the money in the bank!

Please trust me that if you could list all promotions you need for a year, you would feel so good! It creates confidence, it makes you think, and it helps you identify potential opportunities in advance. Ultimately, it helps you to be ahead of the game. Please also understand that this is an ongoing process. You will need to visit your plan to update it every now and then. Most importantly, you will need to track the results for two reasons: 1) if a promotion fails, you want to learn from it, and 2) if it is successful, you want to replicate it.

So, it’s not too hard, isn’t it? I believe many small business owners would already have a marketing plan in place. However, for those who don’t, why not start preparing it now.

How to Choose the Best Direct Marketing List Broker

Whether you are looking to do a mail out, a telemarketing campaign or wanting to reach prospects by email, direct marketing is an effective and affordable way to reach out to potential customers.

The lists you use will determine the success of your direct marketing campaign. Determining who to target the list is a crucial process and establishing your criteria will help you get the best results.

You may want to find a list of consumers or businesses who have purchased products or services similar to yours, or who fall into the demographic profile or income range you are trying to reach.

With thousands of direct marketing lists to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start. Evaluating list suppliers and finding the right direct marketing lists for your particular campaign can be over whelming.

A direct marketing list broker represents all available lists in the direct marketing industry. they will help you find the best list by understanding your target market. The brokers serve as your guide, providing list recommendations for your marketing efforts.

If possible, look for a list broker who has experience working with clients who target the same type of customer you’re trying to reach. If you are trying to fund raise look for a broker with experience with working with non-profit organisations, or if you are looking for to market to other businesses, look for a brokers with B2B experience.

Is the list broker accessible: Do they call you back? Do they answer your emails in a timely fashion? Do you feel they are trying to build a relationship for future business endeavors? Good brokers realize that relationship building offers other opportunities down the road.

You should ask how the data is compiled and how often it is updated. Ask to see a sample of the data. Before buying the list you should make sure how it looks like, what information is included.

Be aware that good data comes with a cost. Give your budget for the campaign up front so the broker will know if he can accommodate you and your needs.

Also, ask the broker about their customer service and satisfaction policies. A good list broker will stand behind their services, should you get anything other than the list that you ordered, the broker should do whatever it takes to replace it immediately or provide a full or partial refund.

You can search for reviews of the list broker, the internet has no shortage of places to post reviews of customer service. Don’t be afraid to ask for previous customer’s testimonies.

Choosing someone you can trust to do their job well will save you time and money in the long run.

Direct Marketing Products With Value

The internet has clearly delivered a marketing opportunity never before realized by businesses both large and small. The ability to advertise, inform and interact with the target market makes the internet second to none. Live TV marketing programs share some of this capability, but the internet is always on, and always has what the consumer wants to find. Network marketers including those associated with MLM companies are enjoying growth like never before. Entrepreneurs have a wide range of choices in the goods and services they can share online. A few of them have selected direct marketing products with value and focus their attention exclusively on the top tier of available choices.

The salesman in the desert selling water has a distinct advantage over the multitude of used sand lot owners. With a product that is clearly in demand, we would expect water inventory to remain consistently low. Yet because of the landscape it is sometimes difficult to see the water company behind the sand dunes.

Every time a new product or service is launched these days, an internet marketing campaign is included. Then it seems like another three or four companies spring up online the next day offering practically the same thing. The abundance of choices also brings an abundance of information. People who search online for anything expect a great deal of information and a multitude of choices. Entrepreneurs, who must decide which product to get behind from a business perspective, also approach the situation like a consumer.

We’ve all made purchases online that either met, or failed to meet our expectations. For the entrepreneur who is choosing to market a particular item, they need to know everything up front before making a decision. In a highly competitive market, selection for the prospective business owner is similar to that of a consumer. Buying into a business opportunity, however, involves a much deeper relationship.

Direct marketing products with value always serve the best interest of everyone. When true, measurable value exists in the product, it benefits everyone it affects. Any product or service of value, finds expression in various places. Exceptional services and remarkable products are always sought after. In order for companies to compete, they must rise to the same standard.

So the entrepreneur asks these important questions:

1. Is it valuable for personal as well as business purposes?
2. Does it ever lose or gain value?
3. What is the consumer reaction?

There are direct marketing products that serve both the individual and business owner alike. Any product or service that affects its user on a financial level would fall into this category. A household budget shares the same goal as a business budget. People desire to prosper and businesses must.

Educational material also serves both the consumer and business owner. When a direct marketing professional has an educational system for sale, chances are they’ve already reaped the benefits it delivers. As the overall knowledge of man continues to escalate at unprecedented speed, the demand for specialized knowledge grows in all markets. The ability to deliver valuable information is a rewarding experience for everyone.

Looking specifically at financial and educational material, it is reasonable to suspect that time can have an effect on the value of that information. As the knowledge base increases, some or all of that information may be subject to change. This is especially true for specialized educational products. Tax laws seem to change every year, and investment advice has to remain constant. Knowledge on how to repair a VCR may be ancient, but technical training for disk players, or TV’s for that matter, changes constantly.

If the product we purchase can’t be upgraded or enhanced, it is like any other product that begins to depreciate. Having a lifetime warranty on an electronic device would definitely affect our decision to purchase. Likewise an educational product, or financial service that absorbs changes without adding expense to the user, satisfies the demand for true and lasting value.

Finally we have to know if it works. Catchy slogans and entertaining advertisements aside, people need to hear from other people what they can expect. All the scientific evidence in the world isn’t going to convince me to buy some wonder tonic if my neighbor is telling me it gave him gas.

People trust people that aren’t trying to sell them something. The individual giving the testimony doesn’t gain a thing by convincing someone else to buy. TV has lost most of its credibility when it comes to parading ‘supposed’ consumers around with glowing, well scripted, endorsements; especially when the viewer can Google the product and read a dozen negative reviews in an instant.

Direct marketing products with value always have the endorsement of the marketing professional. Although this can seem like a car salesman claiming they own the same car, the value in the product can be measured apart for that endorsement. Even the addition of other consumers and business owners giving their reviews, only enhances the perceived value based on measurable criteria; namely, how it helps and why.

The internet market will continue to absorb any and every imaginable product people conceive. Rising to the top, the few truly valuable items will serve both the public lucky enough to find them, and the marketer clever enough to deliver them.

Unusual Features Of Internet Marketing Products

Some internet marketing products have unusual but helpful features. You should be familiar with those especially if you think your current software’s features are already limited.

What Are These Products?

If you are into online marketing, you should be aware of internet marketing products. Those are software or computer programs that are specifically and especially designed and developed to help online promoters carry out their tasks. Such products are featuring sets of features and capabilities that enable marketers to get more empowered when marketing across the online media.

Moreover, such products are not usually free. A marketer has to invest a significant amount of money just to buy, download, and use one. However, the usefulness and the potential benefits can easily compensate and justify the acquisition of one. There are many of such products that are promoted and sold online. But there are only a few that truly matter.

Various internet marketing products almost always have the same sets of features and usefulness. Those that offer more can be considered as good finds. Here are some unusual but helpful features that are offered only by a few of these products.

Guerilla Marketing Features

Some products can run features that guide or facilitate ‘guerrilla marketing,’ an undercover strategy of promoting products and services. Through the years, more and more companies have adapted and used this strategy to attract and lure more potential customers. The style used to be employed only by small marketers who cannot afford big budgeted marketing ploys. Now, even medium-sized to large online promoters employ it with the use of specific marketing products.

Guerilla marketing can be the best marketing technique you can use. If you are not familiar with this technique, several marketing software will lead your way. Conceal your ads in materials that consumers will not easily realize as promotional plots. It works.

Niche Marketing Guide

Many internet marketing products now offer niche marketing guides. There is a need to choose a niche audience, which will most likely buy and use the products you sell. You need to target your efforts to be able to run across the right and potential customers.

Some marketing products can guide you upon starting a marketing campaign. You will learn about your specific niche as well as the right sets of keywords, subjects, and marketing materials that should come with it. You can take a better chance of reaching out to consumers who can actually be persuaded to purchase.

Email Marketing

Have you ever received an email that turns out to be a sales page? Are you wondering where the company got your email address? Several internet marketing products can help you do it on your own. Now, you can use email messaging in marketing and promoting the products and services you sell or market. You can be surprised at how the task can be effective.