Marketing consultants, online templates and books on how to sell purple cows fed on chicken soup while you are swimming with sharks overly complicates the matter of creating and executing an effective marketing plan. These consultants make it as if great marketing comes from an inspiration-finding impetus from a climb up a mountain in Tibet.
The fact is that the vast majority of you reading this are in businesses where the marketing efforts needed for success can be built with a handful of insightful questions, an ounce of logical thinking and a pound of execution.
First, you must start with one of Peter F. Drucker’s five most important questions for every business; who is your customer, or better said:
1. WHO IS MY IDEAL CUSTOMER?
Implied in this question is, who are your ideal and easiest to win customers? Which customers can most leverage your differentiators? Which customers are most profitable for you because of geographical location, lack of competition, demographics, their perceptions of the value you uniquely offer, etc?
These are the customers that make up the blue oceans in which you have less competition, or preferably none at all. These customers take your team away from the red oceans of price concessions and low win ratios. This can often be one of the most important areas of discussion for a company in need of significant growth.
2. WHAT MOST INFLUENCES MY IDEAL CUSTOMER?
Every customer is influenced by a variety of sources and means. While looking at a list of your ideal customers, or by actually asking them this question, discern what influencing channels are most powerful. These could be your customers’ banker or other professional contacts. They could be periodicals that your customers read. Your customers could be influenced by speakers they hear, articles or books they receive in the mail or dozens of other sources.
3. WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO GAIN THE ATTENTION OF MY IDEAL CUSTOMERS?
While looking at a list of potential ways of influencing your ideal customers, consider your resources and talent. Prioritize the list of ways in which you could get in front of your ideal customers in both marketing efforts and selling efforts. Consider the time required and the ideal spacing of repetition of exposure to theseideal customers that will enable you to reach and a piqued top of mind awareness, interest and trust that would enable you to close a much higher percentage of these customers.
4. BASED ON THE ABOVE, WHAT IS MY MARKETING PLAN?
Creating an annual marketing calendar is a great way for you to control and successfully execute on delivering a variety of what could be dozens of touches throughout a year. Whether you put it into a spreadsheet and/or on a large wall calendar, there is value to seeing the spaced repetition of your bouillabaisse of touches made with your ideal customers. Assigning accountabilities, prep, delivery and follow ups around each different type of marketing effort helps to ensure successful execution.
If you can ask the above four questions and build your customized marketing calendar, I have no doubt that you will be like many clients I have seen before.