Introduction: Lynk’s ‘ThinkTank Marketing’ Blog covers various aspects of marketing for small to medium size businesses.
Lynk is a strong proponent of educating clients on the basic principles of ethical, modern marketing techniques. We believe that knowledge is the ultimate key to success – and, with shared knowledge, we can work together as an unstoppable team capable of achieving great things for our clients.
A Marketing Plan is a highly detailed, carefully thought-out document that outlines all sales and marketing activities targeted aimed at achieving specific goals and objectives. The marketing plan forms an essential piece of the overall business plan.
Developing a solid plan before taking your products or services to market will save you significant time and money later on. A good plan outlines the critical path and tactical steps you will take to reach key business goals and objectives. It also provides you with solid financial direction, and ensures adequate resources are well planned for.
Does A Marketing Plan Need to Be Written?
Absolutely. One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is underestimating the importance of developing a written marketing plan. The process of writing is a proven method of thinking through various scenarios; it helps you to think through the “what if’s”, and by articulating your plan, the thought process is far more focused and detailed.
Have you ever tried to share ideas that are simply stored in your head and never put to paper? Writing your plan helps to articulate and solidify those thoughts, and it enables you to communicate and give direction more effectively.
Statistics show that entrepreneurs who take time to research and develop a detailed, written plan, are typically far more likely to reach their goals than those who do not.
Do Small Businesses Need A Marketing Plan?
One common perception is that a written marketing plan is only practical for bigger businesses. The Plan doesn’t need to be formally written, but it does need to convey key pieces of information that can be easily extracted and shared with others who might assist as required. The Plan can even be in bullet point form; whatever format is easiest for the owner to understand and refer to when needed.
The marketing plan should never be a forgotten document that sits on a shelf; on the contrary, it is an important resource document that should be referred to constantly to ensure goals are being achieved and projects are on target.
Do You Need to Hire a Consultant?
A marketing consultant can be extremely useful in helping to develop your marketing plan and getting it off the ground, particularly if you don’t have the experience, knowledge, resources or time. Marketing planning is often one of the last items on a busy entrepreneur’s to-do list, and in order to be successful in business, the marketing plan needs to be moved to the TOP of the list.
When Should You Develop a Marketing Plan?
When it comes to effective marketing, it’s always best to plan well in advance of launching your products or services, we suggest at least 2-3 months prior to execution, so that resources can be properly sourced and allocated to the execution of various marketing projects. The marketing plan should always be completed prior to any creative development, and certainly before the development of a website, online marketing or traditional advertising activities.
What Time Span Should A Marketing Plan Cover?
The duration of your marketing plan depends entirely on the objectives: are your marketing goals short term, long term or both? A short term marketing plan should be highly detailed and cover at least a 12 month period; long term plans can be up to 5 years in scope, but are typically less detailed after a two year period. It is difficult to plan longer than two years, given the ever-changing market environment i.e. technology, competition, and product / service demands.
Your Marketing Plan Begins with Goal Setting & Research
The marketing plan begins with careful consideration of goals; what exactly will your marketing efforts accomplish for your business? Goals are often related to revenues and sales; however, they can also be can be focused on increasing brand awareness, market share, or even have operational focus – such as achieving foundational marketing systems and sales processes. Improving efforts on marketing efficiencies can result in increased profitability, and this is always an important objective to consider.
It is only through careful research that you will gain necessary insights into your market place. This will help you make important decisions in areas such as marketing messaging, budgeting and spending and online presence. Here are a few areas on which you will want to place extra emphasis:
- Competitive environment
- Product or service positioning
- Branding and key messaging
- Advertising, communications and promotions
- Online environment
- Target audience
- SWOT analysis
What is Integrated Tactical Planning?
This is where you’ll take everything you’ve learned about your market place, and put your tactical action plan into place. To do this, you’ll need to consider topics such as online and offline marketing activities, including pricing strategies, promotional campaigns, advertising, sales and communications.
Integrated planning is a process whereby marketing activities are created and implemented in a highly coordinated fashion; optimization of resources and effective execution are crucial. This is particularly true when it comes to the enormous range of online marketing opportunities that are available. Online marketing integration is a highly technical area – you’ll want to ensure you have access to professionals you can trust.
Alternately, you’ll need to make time to gain a foundational knowledge in online marketing practices, and to develop and execute planning tasks, which can often be challenging given the pressures many face in managing day to day business activities.
How to You Decide on a Marketing Budget?
Most business decisions (including marketing) should be made based on overall objectives. Many experts recommend that between 3% and 5% of projected revenues be allocated to marketing spend; although realistically, a marketing budget depends mostly on what your comfort level. It is quite often a discretionary figure, and projected business growth frequently depends on several key factors, including the financial capability of the owner(s), and the overall viability of the business plan.
Resource Planning – When Should You Outsource Marketing Resources?
Now that you have a great marketing plan in place, you’ll need to make the next round of big decisions – who’s going to make it all happen?
In a typical ‘bigger’ organizational structure there is typically a broad range of expertise assigned to properly develop and execute a marketing plan. The same areas of expertise are required in small business, and unfortunately, the owner typically has to wear many of the following hats, or at least have enough of an understanding to effectively hire for the following roles
- Marketing Director or Manager
- Marketing Coordinator
- Web Designer
- Web Programmer
- Inbound / Outbound Online Marketing Specialist (Adwords / SEO)
- Communications Specialist / Copywriter
- Graphic Designer Print / Digital
Here are some very important questions you’ll need to ask yourself as you decide on what resources you’ll need:
- Do you have the broad range of marketing expertise and internal resources required to manage your marketing?
- Do you understand online marketing? This will be a significant aspect of your plan you’ll need to consider.
- Do you have the financial means to hire staff, or outsource professionals?
Does your business need a marketing plan?
A Lynk Marketing Specialist can help you get your plan in place, and in motion. Contact our office today at 604.510.5965 or visit www.lynkmarketing.com
Posted by Laurie Decosse, President, Lynk Marketing Solutions
Technological advances have traditionally been a crucial tool for the development and continuing success of any business. From the wheel, to the steam engine, to the automated assembly line, technical innovation and business growth have always gone hand in hand.
The advent of the internet was the beginning of a major technical revolution, and it has evolved to a point where it is no longer a simple means of convenience, but rather a controlling force in modern culture and business. Visibility and effectiveness on social media, search engine optimization and PPC (Pay per Click) campaigns not only control whether a business thrives, but if it even exists for all intents and purposes.
Many small to mid-size businesses owners find traditional marketing media (print, radio and TV ads) financially unrealistic and difficult to justify. In contrast, online marketing tools are accessible by almost anyone. On one hand, the medium is highly cost effective, targeted and measureable – on the other hand, it is infinitely more complex than traditional media.
Success of tech and software giants like Apple, Google and Facebook is proof that our society is driven by technology, and effective utilization of these online platforms is no longer optional – rather, integral for businesses of all sizes. Continue Reading »
An internationally-renowned branding strategist once defined brand equity as: ”a set of assets (or liabilities) linked to a brand’s name and symbol that adds to (or subtracts from) the value provided by a product or service…”
We like this definition because it emphasizes that branding can often be a double-edged sword; if a brand is poorly managed, it can become a liability instead of an asset. Branding that is inconsistent and/or out of touch with the needs of customers can have a significant negative impact on your business.
With that in mind, here are a few key points that can help you develop a strong, recognizable brand:
Know your customer. Always ensure your branding is focused on the mindset, needs and values of your target audience. Do your research and make sure you know everything possible about them.
Study the competition and your industry. Study your competition’s branding and positioning. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How are they marketing, and what are you doing that’s different? Do you see any new emerging trends in your industry? Technology and the internet has changed everything – stay on top of it, or you will get left behind. Continue Reading »