Part II of our Gain Freedom in Business series of blog posts takes us beyond the initial business set-up actions that were covered in our first post to now thinking about how to attract customers by creating a marketing plan.

Similar to our first post, creating a marketing plan is something you can do to build your business while still employed in your current job. Since most people depend on their current income, this is just another way to get the business established while you still have the safety and security of a regular paycheck. 

The main goal of a marketing plan while still employed should be to create a database of leads who will be interested in your product or service.  You can pick some of the low hanging fruit off of your list while you’re still employed just to start generating some money but you will have to follow up with each lead once you’re ready to work in your business full time.  Make sure you’re consistently building relationships while they sit on your list whether it’s your email list (best option) or social media channel.  If you do this, when you finally call to offer your product or service, they’ll know exactly who you are and will consider you a trusted resource in your niche.

Your 4-Point Marketing Plan

Starting a business requires more than a “build it, and they will come” strategy. No one will come if they don’t know about the business, which is why marketing plans are so critical. Marketing a business is a constant function, which is why you want to create a marketing plan. Don’t be intimidated by the thought of creating a marketing plan. At its’ most basic, a marketing plan is just a document that details how you are going to promote your business. The goal is to get your marketing program to the point where it runs on autopilot. Here’s how to make it happen:

  1. Identify Your Target Audience. You can’t sell without having customers, which is why our first step is to think about the product or service you are going to provide and who would likely purchase it. Who are they? What is their problem or need? How can your business help them? These people are your target audience. Identifying your target audience means knowing your customers and knowing your customers is going to help you decide what to offer and how to best promote it.
  2. Set Marketing Goals. Goals are necessary; without goals how will you know if you have achieved anything or how well your marketing technique is working? Create a short list of measurable, reachable goals, and then track them, so you know when you’ve met the goal. Your goals may be simple at this point such as “Build an email list of 100 contacts” or “Gain X number of followers on Facebook.” That’s fine. Start small and make it doable. Here’s where you’ll use your audience knowledge to identify the most effective channels and methods of reaching them. Create goals for the year, but break them down into shorter cycles, such as monthly or quarterly cycles so you can review and tweak as needed.
  3. Identify Marketing Strategies. Next up is developing marketing strategies and tactics that will help you meet your goals. These tactics will vary based on your goals. For example, if your goal is to increase the number of followers on Instagram you may decide to:
    1. Identify your current number of followers.
    2. Decide how many more followers you’d like to gain and by what date (ex. in one month, 6 months, a year, etc.)
    3. Commit to being more active on the site by posting X number of new photos each week, engaging with users by responding to comments or making comments, hosting a contest, posting links to sites or images you find interesting to create more interest in and traffic to your page.

This approach provides a tangible goal and a roadmap to achieving it. Successful marketing tactics target consumers at all stages of the buyer’s journey.

  1. Create a Budget. Yes, even at this early stage you’ll want to create a marketing budget. Eventually, you will devote a portion of your gross sales to an annual marketing budget, but when you’re just starting out you may need to borrow funds or self-finance. Keep in mind that marketing is essential to the success of your business. You simply have to do it, but with so many different avenues, channels, strategies, and techniques available to you, it can get overwhelming. A budget helps you keep things in perspective and make choices that benefit the business.

That’s it! This is all you need to create a marketing plan for your business. As we said above, there’s no reason to be intimidated. Your marketing plan is all about figuring out how you are going to market the business; it’s not the same thing as actually creating content and doing the marketing – we’ll get to that later on.

A marketing plan gives you freedom (that’s our theme this month, remember?) from constantly having to think about your next marketing step because you’ve already taken the time to plan out your year in advance. Instead of responding to external forces, you control where, when, and how you market your business and it should bring you good results because you’ve taken the time to really get to know your audience and their wants and needs. A plan helps you stay on track and organized without being distracted or overwhelmed.

For additional help developing a marketing plan, contact The Marketing Shop.

Up Next: Be Proactive, Not Reactive

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