Promoting your business requires a multifaceted approach. Just as a business plan outlines what your business does and how it will operate, a marketing plan outlines how you will promote your business. A marketing mix consists of several tactics used to promote your brand. Not only do you have to market your business to consumers, but you must also network with businesses that can help your business grow. Your marketing plan will consist of activities to conduct in person and online.
The Importance of a Marketing Plan
Creating a marketing plan will give you the direction you need to win market share. It clearly defines what steps you will take to communicate your brand message to consumers. The plan helps you think out, in advance, what marketing activities will, and will not, produce results. You can change it as your business needs change and you learn what marketing channels are effective in your unique business setting.
Begin by reviewing your business goals and then verify your market research with focus groups to test public response to your offer. Once you are sure you have a product of service that is in demand, develop a unique selling proposition — a quality that makes your product or service different, and better, than your competitors. Next, narrow your target demographic down to a specific niche while expanding your product or service offering and keeping focus on what it is your firm does.
Defining Your Brand
Your next task is to define your product or service image. Create a unique brand color scheme, logo and design. Once you have decided on these themes, make this image consistent across all company assets, including business cards, brochures, websites and social media presences. Additionally, figure out what promotional items will fit into your marketing plan. Promotional items create a lasting impression on clients, and business partners, and can provide free advertising if chosen well.
Introduce Yourself to the Community
You must form relationships with other businesses to grow. Preparation is essential to presenting your business in the best light. Create a 20 to 30 second elevator pitch that explains exactly what your business does. Armed with this brief description, you need to venture out into the business community and make your presence known. Having a prepared pitch insures that you can communicate your business goals effectively and that a potential business partner can decide whether doing business with you is beneficial.
Go to events that other business owners — who operate businesses or services that compliment your business — attend and network with them. You can attend trade shows and conferences, as an attendee or a sponsor, and join your local chamber of commerce. Depending on your product or service, you can also host workshops to attract local business owners.
Build an Online Presence
You should have several ways to deliver your brand message to consumers, a technique called creating multiple touch points. The more times you touch a consumer with your brand message, the more it influences them. Online marketing is the most cost-effective and efficient way to advertise. Used with traditional advertising, social media marketing can greatly increase your business income.
Register for social media platforms that can deliver your brand message effectively. You can then use these platforms to drive your target market to your website and encourage them to take the action you desire. In most instances, you want a consumer to engage your website for more information, such as signing up for a newsletter or following you on social media, rather than trying to have them buy immediately. The goal is to build a meaningful relationship with your consumers.
Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse
Contests and promotions pique the interests of your target demographic and encourage them to engage with your brand. You can offer coupons and discounts to encourage consumers to patronize your business as well as loyalty programs, such as frequent buyer discounts and customer appreciation days.
It takes a multipronged approached to create brand awareness. Your marketing plan is as complex and detailed as a business plan and requires a time and financial commitment. With a well thought-out marketing plan, you can successfully sustain and grow your business.