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Marketing planning unlocks the door to business success


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In successful marketing, quality, not quantity, can make or break a business. There used to be a time when business had the resources to throw everything against the wall to see what stuck.

n b marketing


No more. Today, effective marketing means targeting and that means planning.

Planning is critical to the success of your marketing campaign. Companies that start with a written plan see faster and stronger growth than those who just start marketing because business is slow. A planned, continuous promotions programme can help to keep a steady stream of leads and customers coming through your doors.

Start by writing down your vision of where you are going, when you want to get there and how youíll do it. Share your vision and keep it visible for everyone in your business to see, so that it becomes part of your business culture. A written plan, that includes a good look at your company, what services or products you offer, your goals and explicit activities that will accomplish your marketing goals, will be help your business stay on track. Most importantly, you should look at the customers you want to attract and retain Ė who are they, what do they do - be as specific as you can.

Why should your prospects choose your company? What makes you different from your competitors? What are the critical non-essentials that set your business apart and give you the competitive advantage? Business can be won on the very narrowest of margins so you need to turn every aspect of your business to your advantage.

How will you reach your prospects? You need to examine the many and varied ways of reaching prospects to find out what will work best for your business and for your target audience. You may have to test different approaches to find out which one works best in each situation.

Always keep track of your marketing success by being clear about your objectives from the outset. Every activity should have a measurable outcome, even if that is building towards the final goal. How will you track your marketing success? Will you feel satisfied if you increase the number of enquiries or are you looking for closed sales? A better measurement might be keeping the same number of sales, but increasing the profitability of each sale.

What is your starting point? For most companies this is a major stumbling block. With limited resources, it is easy to hesitate over which area should receive the most marketing and sales attention and how to make the best use of a limited marketing budget. Without adequate measurements in place, itís difficult to know exactly what the marketing activity it doing for you. Develop a hierarchy of service areas based on each oneís profitability with first emphasis going to the most profitable. A plan for each area can then be written, including tools to use and how to measure success.

Finally, marketing isnít always an exact science so itís important to plan, check, modify the plan and check again before. A flexible plan allows you to take advantage of new opportunities that may arise along the way.

October 2004

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