Writing an Effective Marketing Plan – Part IV

“Marketing is not an event, but a process . . . It has a beginning, a middle, but never an end, for it is a process. You improve it, perfect it, change it, even pause it. But you never stop it completely.” — Jay Conrad Levinson

A woman smiles.We can’t emphasize enough the importance of good marketing. Like Levinson says, sound marketing is continuous and never-ending if you want your business to thrive. And the best way for a business to thrive is to have a good marketing plan.Last week we began outlining the key elements of a good marketing plan. We discussed the following:

  • Marketing Goals and Objectives
  • Pricing of Products/Services

Today we’ll wrap up the discussion by covering two more elements of a good plan.

Key Marketing Strategies

It’s important to determine which marketing strategies you’re going to use from the onset. Obviously you can assess their success and revise your strategies after they’ve been implemented, but you need a starting point. And remember, the marketing plan is only making projections for one year; you have plenty of time to change course and revise your strategies.Questions to ask as you develop a marketing strategy include: Which promotional methods work best for my target market? Which methods will I use? What type of tangible results will I use to measure my success? How long will I wait to see those results before revising my strategy?To help you brainstorm marketing tactics that might work for you, we’ll list a few here:

  • Direct mailings (brochures, postcards, flyers, etc.)
  • Television advertisements
  • Radio advertisements
  • Print advertisements (in magazines, newspapers, local publications, the phone book, etc.)
  • Website promotions
  • Ezines
  • Newsletters
  • Press releases
  • Promotional games and activities (ability to win or receive promotional materials)
  • Exposure at conferences, seminars, workshops, and community outreach programs
  • Hosting an open house or business party

And that literally names just a few. As with most of the other elements in your business plan, it’s good to do a little research before you write this section. Purchase a book on marketing, find out what strategies your competitors are using, and ask members of your target market how they’ve found their current accountant.

Implementation of Your Marketing Plan

This portion of your plan articulates how you will implement your strategies. This should include a schedule and list of key tasks you’ll need to complete in order to start and complete your plan. You should also consider the resources you’ll need and who you might use when outsourcing some of these tasks. It’s a plan for success, and once you’ve written it you’ll have an easy blueprint to follow; you won’t get a few months into startup and have to waste time and energy thinking through things you’ve already researched and decided.

Writing Tips

It’s important to realize that none of these elements should be written independent of the other. The marketing plan is closely related to the entire business plan, and you’ll learn more about how to market as you write the rest of your plan. Each section can be revised and rewritten as you learn more from writing other sections. Don’t think that simply because you’ve completed one element that it’s written in stone. Writing your business plan is a learning process and you’ll learn more about your business, your approach and your marketing philosophy as you write it. Give yourself the time to do it right.

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