A good marketing plan can shape the way you connect to your existing customers and attract new ones. It can also help you determine the types of customers you should target, how to reach them and how to track the results so you learn what works to increase business. If you don't have a marketing plan, creating one is not difficult. A successful marketing plan doesn't have to be complex or lengthy, but should contain enough information to help you establish, direct and coordinate your marketing efforts. To help you through the process, we've identified five steps to follow. These encompass information gathering before you write your marketing plan, the drafting of the plan itself, and updating the plan after you've created it. Along the way we use Margie's Travel, a new 25-person travel service company, as an example. Step 1: Position your product or services
To start your plan, keep in mind the four "Ps" of marketing: product, price, promotion and place. Your goal is to put the right product or service in front of the right customers, at the right price and at the right time and place. A good way to get started is to answer some basic questions about your business. The following scenario for Step 1 is based on the marketing plan used by Margie's Travel. •| Who are you selling to?
Margie's Travel provides personal travel services to busy working professionals. Based on collected data, the typical clients are homeowners between the ages of 35 and 55, with yearly incomes of more than US$100,000.| •| What do those customers need?
The target market for Margie's Travel is affluent working couples with children who want travel plans customised for a family. The company's goal is to provide convenient, unique and relaxing travel experiences appropriate to each family.| •| What distinguishes your product or service from the competition? Margie's Travel has a competitive advantage in its ability to accommodate families with children of...