In one of my previous articles, I stated that “a business is NOTHING without a financial plan.” I truly believe that in order for a business to be successful (or at least progress towards success and not failure), it must prepare solid financial statements, which present the overall position, profitability, and health of the company. Similarly, just like a business is NOTHING without a financial plan, a product is NOTHING without a marketing plan.
No matter how great (and revolutionary) a product is, it is NOTHING without a marketing plan. Whether your business targets individuals or other businesses (B2C or B2B), you need a plan to promote your product; people won’t magically discover that you have the greatest product on earth.
When I was first starting off as a small business owner, I didn’t believe in having a detailed, written marketing plan. I thought creating one would be nonsensical. My product was a website that delivered information to youth and adults that wanted to find local recreational sports leagues and activities in their area; I thought I didn’t need a plan because promoting my website would be a breeze. In hindsight, assuming my website would be easy to promote was one of the biggest mistakes I made as a small business owner. I didn’t take into account how hard marketing is; I didn’t take marketing seriously.
Creating and running a successful marketing campaign is one of the most difficult aspects of running a business, especially if you’re an inexperienced entrepreneur or small business owner. Why? Because you don’t have the marketing resources to compete with many of the larger, experienced, more established firms out there, which means you’re already at a disadvantage. I’m not saying impossible to successfully reach your target market, I’m just saying be prepared to work your tail off, especially in the beginning.
A Detailed Marketing Plan is Necessary
The reason you need a detailed, written marketing plan is because in order to reach your target market (your main customers), you need a descriptive, well thought-out blueprint of promotional procedures that you’re going to execute. Consumers aren’t going to come to you just because you started a business and have a great product; they don’t know you exist. Trust me, I’ve been where you are; I know what you’re thinking…social media, right? You’re thinking that all you have to do is create a business page on Facebook and Twitter, create a few interesting post and tweets (with pictures), and everything will be fine; people will come running to your product. That is exactly what I thought; I was so naïve back then. That’s not a realistic scenario. It won’t work. In fact, because of the Facebook and Twitter algorithms, majority of your fans and followers will never see the content you post (which is why you shouldn’t fall in love with Facebook and Twitter). Social media is a great tool for reaching your customers, but it can’t be your only tactic. Creating a detailed, written marketing plan forces you to look beyond social media and think of other creative ways to reach your customers. Marketing isn’t as simple as tweeting pictures of your product to a couple of your followers or messaging a couple of your friends on Facebook to Like your company’s fan page; Marketing is so much more.
A Brief Summary of Marketing
Marketing is the overall approach that a business takes to reach its target market. The purpose of marketing is to encourage the consumer to act in a particular way that benefits the business. Some marketing efforts encourage consumers to buy a product, while some may focus on educating the consumer on the benefits of the product. Whatever section of the buying cycle a consumer is in, he or she should come across an ad that encourages an act that benefits the bottom line of the business. That’s the goal of marketing. Marketing takes many forms; there’s offline marketing, such as billboard ads, print ads (newspapers and magazines), television commercial, radio ads, promotional events, etc. Then there’s online (digital) marketing, such as banner ads (pay-per-click or impression), search engine marketing, search engine optimization, social media marketing, blogging, content creation and content marketing, email marketing, etc. A good marketing plan doesn’t utilize one form of marketing; it encompasses many forms of marketing, as each form has its strengths.
Now that you know why you need one, read my next article to learn how to create a detailed marketing plan.
-Mike, creator of EntrepreLoser