The business ecosystem has evolved significantly over the past 30 years. Business owners, large and small, have to both understand their product or service as well as the modern marketplace. Without research and planning, it will be difficult to know how to effectively approach your customer base. You need an understanding of their habits, your competitors and both online and offline channels. It is a good idea to dedicate some time to educate yourself and develop a plan for the upcoming year. Here is a brief overview to get you started on building your marketing plan.

Research Your Industry

It’s very easy to get bogged down in the day to day operations of your business. It’s important to take a step back and look at the trends that are affecting your industry as a whole. Will new laws affect my bottom line? Are there new regulations coming down the pipeline that will affect my business model? These and many others are questions that should be answered in order to be able to make smart and educated decisions about your business.

Having a marketing plan is more than just writing down what you hope to do in the upcoming year. It’s about educating yourself and zeroing in on the key initiatives that will make you a more successful business owner.

Do a Competitive Analysis

Knowing what your competitors are doing can give you real perspective on your place in the market. Take a look at the services being offered by your top competitors. Which services are they pushing? Have your competitors made any additions to their business? Are they downsizing? A competitive analysis should give you a snapshot of your competitors and their place in the market in relation to your business. If done well, you will be able to identify weak points in your competition to take advantage of going forward.

Know Your Customers and Their Journey

Know Your Customers and Their Journey - Next Horizon
Your customers are the lifeblood of your success. If you know where they are and how to talk to them, it will make it much easier to attain and retain them. Identify who buys your product or service primarily. It’s easy to say, “We cater to everyone!” However, that mentality will cause you to allocate budget resources where it will likely get wasted. Narrow your focus to the customers that you KNOW buy your product often. Once you know your target audience(s), you can move onto your marketing mix.

In order to develop a plan on how to approach your target audience, you will need to know how the various marketing channels work and if your audience is active on them. With the digital landscape changing at a rapid pace, it’s always a good decision to update yourself on what’s new on each platform. You will need to know if there are any new regulations that may prohibit advertising your industry, but, more than likely, you will find new and interesting additions to digital advertising platforms.

Develop Your Plan

Up to this point you may be saying to yourself, “I have been doing a lot of research, but where is the plan?” Well, marketing plans are about making informed decisions. You cannot make those decisions without informing yourself on the most important trends that affect your business’ bottom-line.

The plan should be easy to create because, as you have done your research, you most likely will have been narrowing down your marketing tactics and strategy. Be sure to include:

  • Budget
  • Specific Tactics
  • Messaging Strategy
  • Sales Goals and Other Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)
  • Content Calendar
  • Important Milestones
  • Evaluation Plan

The Process is the Most Important

Having a marketing plan is more than just writing down what you hope to do in the upcoming year. It’s about educating yourself and becoming a better business owner. The process of developing a marketing or business plan can be rewarding. You get a chance to take a step back from the rapid pace of an entrepreneur and look at the big picture.

Marketing plans are a great source of inspiration to improve your business and it’s worth the time, but that doesn’t mean that you will be able to make the time. If you recognize its value and want experienced professionals to do the heavy lifting, contact Next Horizon.

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