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The Basic Marketing Plan
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is an outstanding resource for the small business owner. Whether you are thinking of starting, or are already running your own company, it is one of the essential websites to visit for information and tips on nearly any issue that you are likely to come across.
Back to Basics
To increase your business, the SBA offers a “Tools” section that is extremely comprehensive and offers a wealth of advice. For example, a good marketing strategy is essential for any business to be successful so the SBA emphasizes the importance of a sound marketing plan. Three basic features to include in your business marketing plan are:
(1) Description of the business
The description of a business encompasses a number of items; for example, staffing, company profile, industry overview and more, and should be as detailed as possible. This is essential to help you to establish what the unique selling point or USP is. This will be what puts you above your competition, and as such, your USP will involve analyzing the competitors’ products and their methods of promotion.
The key to define your USP is to perform as much research as possible at this stage to really give your business the edge. And regardless of the size of your company and your location there are numerous opportunities for research. The local Yellow Pages are a good place to start your search for competitors. And the Internet also gives you a valuable insight as to what is available in your area as well as in other geographic locations.
(2) Definition of customers
Your customers are the most important part of your business. Without them you have no business. So it is important to narrow down who your customers currently are and who you want to target in the future. This will help you assess how you need to promote your products and services.
Also assess the qualities that keep your existing customers ordering from you. You can then use this information to discover what you need to develop to attract new customers.
To attract new customers and bring back previous clients, there are many popular means of advertising like classifieds, direct mail, online promotions, etc. However, keep in mind the one that is often underestimated is the power of ‘word of mouth.’ Happy customers are likely to tell others about your company but so are unhappy ones. So use surveys if you need to so that you can get feedback regularly and monitor how your company is doing.
(3) Finalization of plan and budget
Finally, you reach the stage where you are ready to begin finalizing your marketing plan and your budget. There may be so many marketing plans and strategies that you want to address, but realize it is impossible to do so within the constraints of most budgets. So you need to prioritize where you will spend your money.
To help out, there are low cost methods of assessing the effectiveness of current marketing campaigns and project results or ROI (return on investment) via new avenues of advertising. For example you can use tracking links and special promotional codes, both with offline and online marketing, to monitor response rates and sales.
In addition, the Internet offers many areas of promotion that are free, including discussion boards and link exchanges with complimentary businesses or services. It can very well be worth spending time investigating other avenues at no charge before spending your budgeted dollars on any one particular method of advertising before testing it online here first.
Helpful Marketing Plan Resources
For more help with your marketing plans, you can head to the SBA website, chock full of plenty of suggestions and useful links to give your business marketing plan the best chance of success. Contact them at:
SBA Answer Desk
Send e-mails to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Answer Desk TTY: (704) 344-6640
Visit them online at: http://www.sba.gov .
For more help, grab a copy of “MAP: Moving Ahead Plan,” an easy all-in-one business, marketing and advertising plan jam-packaged with lots of information. The new book features tips, downloadable tools, SBA-based worksheets and special sections from Tom Hua’s eBookWholesaler™ online program and Internet Marketing Expert Willie Crawford to and more to advance your business. It’s available at Booklocker.com: http://www.booklocker.com/books/2715.html or check soon with Amazon.com and BN.com (Barnes and Noble) and your local library.
Diana Barnum is a freelance writer and the president of Moving Ahead Communications, offering affordable business support services since 1984. Contact her at: (614) 529-9459 EST and sign up for her complimentary ezine, tips and more by visiting: http://movingaheadcommunications.com