(Special Contribution to GCG Worldwide from Isabella Woods– firstname.lastname@example.org)
A 2012 Marketing Plan
If you are only now contemplating your marketing plans for 2012, it might already be too late for you to kick start the new year for your business and get some cash into your best current accounts. That’s unless your plans for 2011 were so strong that they already affect next year.
Marketing and planning go hand in hand, with setting up your marketing being the most important element of your preparation.
If you haven’t started planning, here are a few ideas that might guide you in the right direction.
Marketing to the Right People
Blanket marketing, where you simply market your products to anyone, anywhere, cannot possibly aid your business unless your budget is as (almost) unlimited as Coca Cola or Microsoft. Targeting your possible customers directly is more sensible and more cost effective. If your product only sells to people who are 18 to 21 then don’t allow your attention to drift to the over 70s market unless they all have 18-21 year old grandchildren.
A Reason to Buy
Customers need a reason to buy from you. What is it? Why should they not buy from your competitor?
If your product is better, then prove how and say so. If you are able to sell at a lower price than your competitor, but still able to make sufficient profits for the long term growth of your company, then go ahead and beat them on price. They might have enough business already and might not need to match you on price, but beware of selling too cheaply and going out of business because you run out of cash flow.
Can You Motivate Your Customers?
If you are selling at a lower price than your main competitors, but your customers have to travel further to buy from you, is there enough of a motivation for them to choose you over the others? Can you add to your special offer with better service or better support?
Customers won’t travel a couple of miles to save an extra cent unless there’s something in it for them over the long term.
Can You Stand Out?
Your clients get a lot of marketing information. Will they react to another bundle of sales paperwork through the mail box? Will they choose to navigate to your website from the many millions on offer?
Your message has to stand out from your competitors. What do your customers really want from you? That will provide the key to delivering your message effectively.
Knowing what percentage of your business turnover you can direct to marketing will also guide your planning. It might be better to go for one simple consistent approach if the budget is tight, which is always better than placing an ad here and there, without consistency, trying to hope customers will find you.
If your budget is higher, you should consider your overall strategic approach. You will need to think about a number of planned marketing initiatives which all bind together in a longer term plan, but still allow a customer to buy from you having only seen you once.
Is Your Blog Updated Regularly?
All customers check out any business they are considering buying from by looking over the company’s website and quite often, their social media. This gives the customer a feel for the company. It goes without saying that you need to revisit your website design and content regularly to ensure it is fresh and approachable. Customers need to be able to do business with you easily. Don’t make it difficult for them to order from you.
You must always plan ways to measure your marketing activity results. Without the exact knowledge you won’t know what you did right and where you failed when you prepare for 2013. This will make cash flow planning difficult to forecast.