Marketing is that thing that everyone knows just enough about to undermine themselves in business. Now hear me out before you stop reading. Entrepreneurs often go the DIY route with marketing especially now that there are so many free or cheap tools to do marketing yourself. You can create your own ads, segment your own lists, and launch your own campaigns. And you can do all of this and much more without a marketing firm to help or that you have to pay. But there is one caution that each and every entrepreneur should consider. Without a clear plan based on key facts and marketing know how you will often spend lots of money doing a lot of things with few results. This is not to say that you must hire a marketing firm to write your strategy or help you write it, although I do think that can save you a lot of time, but you can follow this basic outline to make sure you are accounting for everything.
1. Know your audience – We have talked about this before. In marketing you must start with the customer. You may feel more comfortable starting with the product but that isn’t what your audience starts. They start with what’s in it for them. You need to start with there as well.
a. What do they need?
b. Why do they need it?
c. How do you meet that need?
2. Understand your product – This is where it is pivotal that you can articulate what how your product solves the customer’s problem. And why it solves it better than your competition.
a. Is your way innovative?
b. Does your way cost less?
c. Is your way easier for the customer?
3. Have a clear message – it may seem silly to say message is a part of your marketing plan however, it is so often an afterthought that you should get it in your plan. You should know what messaging strategy you will use throughout the year for the product you are planning for. This is where AMI MessageMaps come in handy.
a. What style & tone will you use?
b. What is your central story?
c. What are your supporting points?
d. What mindset are you trying to create?
4. Make your goals specific – make sure that your plan clearly defines what your goals are. Michael Hyatt, author of Your Best Year Ever outlines his process for S.M.A.R.T.E.R goals. I will let you read his amazing book for all the details, but the first two letters stand for Specific and Measurable. Without these two attributes how will you know if you have been successful.
a. Are your goals clearly defined?
b. Do you have the tools to measure your success?
5. Know who is doing what – this seems really simple but how many times as an entrepreneur have you started into a project only to realize it is all on you and you don’t have time. When creating your plan clearly define the roles.
a. Who will do what and when?
b. Do you need help from outside your company?
c. What will that help cost?
6. Know your numbers – this isn’t just about knowing your number goals but knowing your budget. If you define how much your plan will cost going in than you can budget for the expense. And you can build in a contingency so there are no surprises.
a. What will each element of the plan cost?
b. What will help cost?
c. When will you need the money?
7. Be flexible – plans often need to be adjusted along the way. You can not know today everything that will transpire over the course of your plan. The marketplace may change, you may have the opportunity to reach people in a new way, or you may see that something simply isn’t working. That is why you must be flexible. Review your goals periodically.
a. Is everything working as planned?
b. Do you need to continue with the plan as is?
c. Do you need to revise your plan?
So, before you go barreling into launching marketing efforts make sure you have a clear plan that will help you achieve results you never thought possible while not killing yourself every step of the way.