27th January 2015

Concept of basic questions written on sticky colored paper Just before we crack on with what makes a watertight marketing plan, I feel it’s worth pointing out what marketing actually is.  Simply put, it is about communication and relationship.  If you communicate effectively and efficiently with prospective, existing and past customers, you increase your chances of selling your products and services …. Simples!

Here are some basic steps to consider:

Who are your prospective customers?

You need to write down who you believe will buy your product/service ….. and do not fall into the trap by saying ‘everyone’!

There may be segments of potential groups – or ‘market segmentation’ to use the technical jargon.  For example, who might buy a top spec Range Rover?  It could be a farmer; a professional footballer; or a taxi company.  The important aspects to consider are the differing reasons why that one product may have appeal to the different groups.  You will need to call upon your knowledge and/or experience of the market to judge at this stage who exactly are your potential customers? what are their needs? and how they are motivated?

Test your assumptions

There are two options for you to use to test your assumptions.  Firstly, you can conduct primary research.  This involves you personally questioning suppliers, potential customers, competitors, and competitor’s customers, ideally with a structured questionnaire.  The aim of the questionnaire is to test your assumptions against the actual state of the market.  As past and current performance is the best judge of future performance, ideally 80-90% of any questions should be based upon what happens now, and what has happened previously.  Up to 20% of any questions can be future based ie, questions on how customers might act in the future.

The other option is through secondary research  which consists of information already collated and available, for example, where other people/organisations have produced reports and analysis highlighting what they have found relating to your proposed market.  This could include published market reports from organisations such as Keynotes or Mintel, and TV and news reports/articles.  A good example of Market Reports can be found in the Marketing Week publication.

Using your market research data.

Your raw data needs to be arranged into meaningful market analysis.

The simplest type being ‘quantitative analysis’ – numbers and percentages, generated from closed questions, which explain the state of the market; e.g. 80% of 55 surveyed have purchased the product in the last year.

Or there is ‘qualitative analysis’ – generated from open questions; e.g. What did you most enjoy about the course?  This information is crucial in testing your assumptions about your marketplace and your customers.

The marketing strategy

A marketing strategy involves you choosing realistic, measurable and ambitious marketing goals that you believe your business can achieve on a sustainable and viable basis.  It should state exactly who your target customers are, and targeted prospects.  Explain what they want, how they want it, and when they want it.  You would have established the unique selling points (USPs) that will stitch customers on to buying from you.

Market tactics

This will outline the methods you will use to communicate with your customers.  Examples might include loyalty cards; website; e-shots; telemarketing; leafleting; blogs; networking.  Again, your market analysis should indicate the preferred tactics that your prospects use and respond to.

Promotional timetable

Your timetable is designed to give you a clear, focused ‘roadmap’ as to how you intend to communicate and build relationships with your customer base.  It will most definitely contain a date and task and preferably an expected outcome and budget.  The contents of the timetable will comply with the acronym SMART

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timed

This document is vital to the performance of your marketing.

Plan, do and review

Your watertight marketing plan must be followed developed and most importantly, reviewed.  Ask yourself, how much time are you focusing on marketing the business?  Are you missing any opportunities?  Are you getting the best return on your investment?

Contact Nwes for information on advice and support for start-up and growing businesses on 08456 099 991.  Further hints and tips can be gleaned from Businessballs.

Written by Richard Voisey, Nwes Business Advisor

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