"If you don't believe in your product, or if you're not consistent and regular in the way you promote it, the odds of succeeding go way down. The primary function of the marketing plan is to ensure that you have the resources and the wherewithal to do what it takes to make your product work." ~ Jay Conrad Levinson
As author Jay Conrad Levinson points out, behind every great company is a great marketing plan.
And within every great marketing plan, there are 14 key elements.
Each of these key elements is discuss below. Once you fully address each of them in your marketing plan, your sales and profits will skyrocket. And your competitors will rile in pain.
1. Target Market/Target Customers: your marketing plan must start with a detailed summary of who your target customers are and what their wants and needs are.
Without this understanding, you can't speak directly to your customers. And if you can't do this, your marketing ROI (return on investment) will suffer.
So, always start by thoroughly defining your target customer; the more specific, the better.
2. Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Having a strong Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is one of the most important elements of your marketing plan. Your USP separates your product or service from your competitors. It makes your product or service a "unique, must have" item.
In fact, the USP of Domino's Pizza: "Fresh hot pizza delivered to your door in thirty minutes or less, guaranteed," has widely been credited as the reason for the company's success in a highly competitive and fairly commoditized business.
3. Pricing & Positioning Strategy: Your pricing strategy should reflect your branding strategy. For example, if you want to be known as the premium service provider, clearly your prices will be higher. Or, you could combine premium service with value and offer moderate prices. Or you could offer products or services at multiple price points.
Choose your pricing and positioning wisely, and make sure the two are tightly integrated.
4. Distribution Plan: Your distribution plan details how customers will buy from you. This includes buying your products and services from you directly, and also buying your products and services from retailers, distributors, value-added resellers, partners, etc.
The more distribution points you have, the more customers you will attract and serve.
5. Your Offers: If there's one area of their marketing plans that most entrepreneurs neglect, it's this one. Offers are special deals that you promote to customers in order to make your product and/or service offerings more irresistible to them.
Good offers will drive more new customers to you, and also drive past customers back to you. There are five basic types of offers such as guarantee offers, and buy one get one free offers.
6. Marketing Materials: Every business requires marketing materials. For example, yours might require a website, brochures, client testimonials, and a newsletter. Here's the key: the more marketing materials you are able to use to convey the value and consistency of your brand, the better you will do at attracting and securing customers.
7. Promotions Strategy: Your promotions strategy details how customers will learn about your company and your products and/or services. Promotions can range from classified ads to radio ads to billboards and more.
When developing your promotions strategy, consider how your target market acts and/or prefers to receive information. For example, if you target customers in rural areas, billboards may not be as effective as they would be in congested urban areas.
8. Online Marketing Strategy: Your online marketing strategy details how you find and secure new customers online. There are four key components to your online marketing strategy, including: keyword strategy, search engine optimization strategy, paid online advertising strategy and social media strategy.
The right online marketing strategy can allow you to generate new customers quickly and cost-effectively; so don't neglect it.
9. Conversion Strategy: Your conversion strategy defines how you will increase your conversion rates, or the percentage of prospective customer who you interact with who end up buying from you.
This is another area that most entrepreneurs neglect. It's great to run promotions that bring tons of potential customers to you; but more important is your ability to convert these prospects into paying customers. You should have a detailed strategy to accomplish this; and make sure you are always tracking, testing and improving your conversion rates.
10. Joint Ventures & Partnerships: Joint ventures and partnerships allow you to leverage other companies who serve customers that also want or need your products or services.
The right partners can give you an ongoing stream of new clients. The key is simply to find these partners and negotiate mutually beneficial agreements, which is often easier than most entrepreneurs think.
11. Referral Strategy: While partnerships and joint ventures leverage another company's customers, referrals leverage your own customers to get new business.
Referrals are simply asking existing customers to refer more customers. By setting up a formal referral system, you can systematically add many more new clients every month (by "formal" I mean clearly defined and systematic; informal referral systems rarely work).
12. Strategy for Increasing Transaction Prices: While your primary goal each time you have a prospective customer is typically to close the sale, your secondary goal is to maximize the price of the sale, or the transaction price. There are 5 core ways to maximize your transaction prices such as offering up-sells and creating product/service bundles.
Importantly, increasing transaction prices significantly boosts profitability.
13. Retention Strategy: Your retention strategy is your game plan for keeping customers.
Successful entrepreneurs retain their customers and get them to buy from them again and again and again. This dramatically improves their profitability.
14. Financial Projections: The final key to your marketing plan is your financial projections. You need to establish financial projections to 1) choose the marketing expenditures which will yield you the highest ROI, and 2) to track and continue to improve your performance over time.
Not surprisingly, entrepreneurs and business owners who create and follow formal marketing plans are much more successful than those who do not. They reap more sales and more profits. They grow faster. And they are able to enjoy more time off; since they have a systematic way of getting and serving new customers.
Use the 14 keys above to create and/or improve your marketing plan today.
Suggested Resource: Growthink's Ultimate Marketing Plan Template allows you to quickly and expertly create your marketing plan; and exponentially increase your customers and revenues by orchestrating the 5 key marketing levers. Click here to learn more.