Why your business needs a Marketing Plan

I know many of you ask why you need a marketing plan in your business?

Oh my goodness I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret, for someone that has a marketing background I tried to operate my business without one….in a round about way.

Prior to opening my business I spent a great deal of time on business planning which covered things like finding a location, analyzing competitors and budgeting, it wasn’t until a few years in I realised I didn’t spend enough time on developing a solid marketing plan right from the beginning.

When I opened the doors to my business I was so busy working in the operations of it because I didn’t have a lot of money to pay staff. I was so busy making floral bouquets, answering the phone, cleaning the floors, bookkeeping, and building a website that I barely had time to shower (just kidding). I was quite naïve and thought my business would go gang busters from day one because I had a great logo, a different product mix, distinctive style and great people skills….man I was soooo wrong.

I was so focused on the pretty or fun elements of developing my business and really lacked a promotional strategy to drive business to my shop. By the time I realized I needed to generate more revenue in my business I found myself suckered into the special deal offered by the salesman from the local radio station (sound familiar). I was so excited by my first radio advert thinking I was going to hit my entire market and see revenue increase dramatically. Much to my dissatisfaction of people saying I heard your advert on the radio, so I thought I would come in and get a $5 bunch of flowers. Excuse me…a $5 bunch? I thought to myself, I’m not a discount florist, I’m a quality florist, and my flowers start at $50. Oh no, my advert wasn’t targeted to the right audience I was attracting the wrong type of customer. If I had done my planning properly I would have realized this before signing the dotted line but I was a sucker for being disorganized and overwhelmed by the running of my new business!

But then it gets worse I have to say. Knowing that my radio advert wasn’t working very well, I signed into the next door-to-door salesman deal of an advert in the local newspaper wedding special. OMG SAME THING!! Brides wanting $20 wedding bouquets not $200 wedding bouquets…argh!

So I think you get the story I was so busy working in my business I was easily tempted by the convenience of what was being offered to me, rather than researching the right forms of promotion for my business. This is just a small example as a business owner how important it is that you need to take some time out to sit down and really think about a marketing plan. Without one you will just waste money on promotions that are not working, attracting the wrong clients and costing you a small fortune. If I had taken an extra week to develop a good marketing plan I would have saved myself thousands of dollars and generated more revenue earlier on in my business.

Ok so what is a marketing plan? A marketing plan is a detailed document that analyses your business, competitors, the external environment, consumers and other market segments. All this information is evaluated into a strategy that aims to achieve your business objectives within a specific time frame.

We specifically look at the mix of 4 or 7p’s of marketing within your business to create an effective marketing strategy. I prefer to look at the 7p’s as I operate a service-based business and work predominately with service-based clients. So what are the 7p’s of marketing?

  • Product
  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Placement
  • People
  • Processes
  • Physical Evidence

Let me delve into these elements a bit more with some example of how I use this mix in my business.

So products, quite simple I had done a lot of work on my product planning before starting my business, I designed my products around my target customers. I had developed a style for describing my products on my websites through a styled script and consistent type of product imagery.

My pricing is worked out based on a cost + profit model, taking into consideration where the market was lying with my competitors pricing and ensuring my product was priced accordingly to its level of quality.

Placement is the way in which I was going to distribute my product to the market, so for instance I had a retail shopfront but also had the intention to launch an ecommerce web store.

Promotion, I had devised a short-term promotion to launch the business, hang some signage in the shop, and promote the business through local phone directories. I hadn’t devised a mid-long term promotional strategy instead I focused to much on the opening of the shop in my early planning.

People, well at the beginning it was just me. Coming from a customer service and retail background I knew my store and brand name was going to be associated with quality and friendly service.

Processes are the systems that enable your business to deliver the service. For my business having an ecommerce website to provide a convenient 24/7 shopping experience was just one of my processes implemented early on in my business.

The physical evidence is the tangible cues that I give the customer to indicate the quality of service they should expect. So for instance I have lux furniture in my wedding consult area, quality lighting on high-end products and customer testimonials on the website.

When you are strategizing your marketing mix you really need to look at all of these elements. Initially you may think they do not all apply to your business, but look at your competitors do they use them in their marketing strategy? Or alternatively start to think outside the box and how you can integrate this element into your business, it may end up being your business niche!

Lastly, your marketing plan needs to be substantial not short-term. Once you start working in your business you will become time poor; the thorough planning you put in now will be your saving grace…trust me. However, if you are already running a business and thinking to yourself how much my story resonates with you, it may be worthwhile to take a week off and write a marketing plan. Otherwise employing the services of a marketer to come in and work on a marketing plan may be a worthwhile cost for your business.

Before you go, I would love to know what type of business you own or are considering starting up, I would love to post some advice tailored to your industry.  Comment below 😉

Thanks for reading

Jill Stephenson

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