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8 Things That Must be Included in Your Marketing Plan

Business owners who understand marketing also comprehend the importance of having a well-defined marketing strategy and objectives. Effective marketing creates a "buzz" and demand for a company's products or services. It's an opportunity for a business to identify potential customers, retain current customers, and convince both that what the company offers has inherent value to satisfy their needs and desires. At the same time, marketing enables a business to distinguish itself from its competitors. As marketing consultants, the value and necessity of detailed marketing strategy and marketing operations plans are frequent topics.

Marketing Reports

Market research is worth the effort. Unfortunately, most business owners are so busy running the normal day-to-day operations that they never take time to engage in market research that could greatly enhance the marketing strategy they have. A good marketing campaign starts with understanding current and prospective customers. This is accomplished with market research. Research is not discovering groundbreaking, new information. It does, however, enable a business to learn what customers want, improve existing products or services, and attract new customers...the lifeblood of any business. Contrary to many beliefs, market research does not have to be elaborate, expensive, or require that a market research firm be hired. Any small business can conduct its own market research in a number of simple and inexpensive ways, such as obtaining feedback from customers, researching what the competition is doing and their pricing, talking to prospective customers about their needs, staying current with industry trends, and even establishing an advisory board to get a "fresh set of eyes." After initial market research has been completed, these additional tips can deepen an owner's market knowledge and sharpen the marketing strategy. Identify and clearly define market opportunities.

First things first...determine what opportunities exist for the business and how these could be marketed and capitalized upon. Then ask the question, "Is the current marketing plan working for current opportunities?" If not, don't delay in making changes. A business should take advantage of rather than later. Have a well-crafted, differentiated brand.

Every business owner should ask, "How well is my company and products or services branded?" This question should be easily answered in specific terms. If not, then the branding process should start by finding one simple idea that the business can use to define and differentiate itself, can implement immediately, and can introduce into the marketplace with the least possible effort. Develop Product Differentiation

It is simple to survey the competition to make sure pricing is competitive. Customers want value and benefits for the money they spend. All things being equal, customers will seek products and services with the lowest cost; therefore, a business must be able to differentiate its products or services to command higher prices. Tailor marketing campaign for the target market.

A marketing campaign may be good but off target rendering it ineffective for its intended purpose. It must be aimed at the target market composed of potential buyers. Marketing campaigns must be reviewed periodically to make sure it is hitting the intended mark. It might be directed to more than the intended target (too broad) or not directed to all of the target audience (too narrow). Marketing dollars must be spent wisely to hit the correct target to be most effective. Test elements of a marketing campaign.

One way of running a successful marketing program is to determine which components are producing the most positive results. Only one component at a time should be changed. For example, make a change to a special offer, Internet landing page, or direct mail, then judge its impact on revenue, calls, website traffic, conversions, etc. With this type of analysis, it can be determined what marketing strategy and/or component works or doesn't work. Seek out new ways to generate marketing ideas.

Everyone has a different opinion on marketing and no one has all the right answers. Rather than relying on only one person's judgment when it comes to marketing, involve employees, customers, business associates, vendors, etc. to generate new ideas. Consulting with interested parties can produce unique and creative ideas. Even sponsoring a "Marketing Think Tank" dinner can prove to be a great return on investment.

Don't waste marketing dollars. Hit the mark every time and make the dollars work for the business!

OnTarget Strategy consultants works with local Denver, Boulder and greater Colorado companies to secure business management and marketing success for tomorrow. While we focus on local companies, we also relish our national and international relationships and clientele.

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