Your 2014 Marketing Plan Checklist From Our Business Experts
Whether your business is established or in the early stages of growth, a strategic approach to marketing your product or service are critically important. The business experts at Catapult Groups suggest it’s important to remember that marketing, as a part of your overall strategy, is every bit as essential as funding the business, managing operations and productions, and hiring the right people.
If your marketing plan failed to ignite sales in 2013 – or you’ve relied too long on a plan you first created several years ago – it may be time to update your marketing plan. Here’s a checklist for what to do:
Revisit your vision. When was the last time you looked at the long-range goals for your business? Day-to-day operations are often so time-consuming that entrepreneurs and business owners keep putting off re-examining their original vision and goals. The new year is a good time to dust off your mission statement and reword it as necessary, reflecting changes in your business since you first began. Of course, if you don’t have a mission statement, it’s a good idea to put one together – a brief, concise statement about what your business represents, who you serve and where you to be five and ten years from now.
Update your marketing plan. A clearly defined vision helps guide all the work you’ll do on branding and advertising in 2014. It helps you identify the right audience for your product or service and articulate the best message to reach that audience. As part of your updated marketing plan, remember to include the following:
- Explore potential niche markets, in addition to the target audience.
- Set benchmarks for how customers will respond to your advertising efforts; conversion rates you can likely expect from directed sales calls; and what type of content draws the greatest number of visitors to your website.
- Enlist the support of employees in your 2014 marketing strategy. These are the people who work on the front-line, so it’s vital they understand your brand and can explain its value to the customers they serve.
Improve your understanding of the target audience. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, many businesses fall back on a shotgun approach to marketing. They’ll buy a large mailing list, for example, and send out direct mail pieces or email messages that are entirely wrong for the prospects who receive them. The result is a significant waste of time and money.
Knowing who you want to sell to means cultivating a deep understanding of what this audience needs and the problems they want to solve. Rather than churning out web content and marketing materials boasting about your “wonderful” product or service (the shiny stuff, the bells-and-whistles features your engineers are so proud of), focus on the consumer’s primary concern: “What’s in it for me?”
Plan a new round of market research. When was the last time you surveyed your customers or conducted an in-depth study of their buying habits? How much do you know about their online buying activities? What about the social media influencers most important to them? Knowing how customers come to the decision to buy helps guide you in determining how best to reach them.
In 2014, amp up your marketing efforts with a keener knowledge of what’s most relevant to the target audience. Redouble your commitment to marketing your product or service in a way that will clearly improve people’s lives.
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