The Makings Of A Marketing Plan

by : swhitey

Here's how to get a blank look from most business owners, managers and branding, marketing executives. Ask them, "What's your marketing plan?"

You'll likely get an answer like this: "Well, I don't really have one of those exactly, but I am doing some corporate branding, direct mail, updating my web site and considering search engine optimization."

Fact is, just the thought of a "marketing plan" overwhelms many. Mention of projections, studies, demographics and segmentation are returned with blank spacey stares.

Nevertheless, you shouldn't let the idea of a marketing plan scare you. Think of it, rather, as a marketing recipe-a mix of ingredients you pull together to create a fabulously tasty result like increased sales, better profits or more market share.

But before you start-throwing ingredients together like a cook gone wild, brainstorm ideas of what you'd like to eventually make with the recipe and educate yourself on the characteristics of the ingredients you might use-what will each bring to the final product?

And you know what's cool? After you find a marketing recipe that proves successful, you can use it again and again-just like any recipe.

I have numerous marketing recipes in my repertoire. I've got them for networking, getting speaking engagements, adding names to my e-newsletter list, creating a successful online sales letter and for following up with prospects and turning them into clients over the phone.

None of these recipes were especially brilliant. They were simply the results of brainstorming, research and testing. Many came from others, which is one of the best sources for winning marketing recipes. All I did was add my own twist to make it fit my business and market.

I continually tested and tweaked my recipes until I finally came up with something I liked...and that a few of my peers liked. Now, I have an arsenal of marketing techniques ready to tackle any marketing problem I may have. Here's a look at how I put everything together:

Marketing Activity: What action will you take to accomplish an objective? Focus on one per recipe, such as networking, speaking or search engine optimization.

Purpose: What's your goal for this marketing activity? What's the perfect outcome?

Intended results: What do you want to happen as a result of accomplishing your goal?

Target market: Who is it and how can you best get their attention?

Plan: What tactics does your research show will work? What ingredients are needed and how will they best work in?

Message/Attention: What's your key message? It must be attention-grabbing and memorable.

Marketing materials: Do you need a web page or a printed piece? Perhaps a combination...

Main activity: What is the main line of communication, and how can you best use it to reach your prospect?

Offer and Call to Action: How will you ask them to take action? What can you say or write that is compelling enough?

Follow-up: How will you get back in touch? Whatever you do, don't forget to do's what separates marketing from selling.

Time: Give yourself deadlines, and carefully place them in your calendar so you can realistically accomplish them.

If getting results from your marketing is truly important to you, you need to have a recipe like this. Just start with one ingredient and take it slow. Before you know it, you'll be cooking up a feast of new business wins.