Seven Questions That Every Business Owner Needs To Answer To Create A Truly Great Marketing Plan

Have you ever spent time and effort creating a Marketing Plan to then experience disappointment and frustration because it made zero difference in your business performance?

If so it’s probably because you fell into one or more of the following traps:

1. You may have followed a template that’s been designed for a large corporate entity instead of one that’s proven effective for a smaller business

2. Possibly you bought a Marketing Plan training course from a charlatan who knew that the course they were selling was useless but who continued to sell it regardless

3. Or perhaps you followed the advice of a well-meaning business coach or consultant (who probably didn’t actually own their own business) that relied on out-dated theories. And if that’s the case then you probably noticed that after several months and many thousands of dollars later you had no new clients to show for your time, effort and money

4. Or possibly you fell into the very common trap of starting with tactics and not paying deep attention to strategy first

If any of the above describes you then you need to know that it’s probably not your fault: there are simply too many confident-sounding, smooth-talking crooks and simpletons out there who are selling half-baked theories that don’t actually work.

And on the subject of putting strategy before tactics, the latter are the important details of a Marketing Plan and include the creation of testimonials, guarantees, websites, advertisements, email or direct mail campaigns and so on but whilst that’s all very important you’ll soon see that it’s a big mistake to start with tactics before you’ve got yourself an effective marketing strategy.

This article in an introduction to seven strategic questions you need to answer when putting together an effective Marketing Plan.

Strategic Question #1: What’s your PEG? PEG stands for Personal End Game and while it’s technically an objective and not a strategy as such, I include it here because it’s critically important as a source of motivation for when you hit the inevitable obstacles along the road to growing your business: “reasons are the fuel in the furnace of motivation”.

The PEG question is normally the easiest of the strategic questions to answer. All you need to do is identify two numbers and three things.

The two numbers are: how much income do you want each year and how many weeks off work do you want each year?

Then you add three things that you will use that money and time for – three burning motivators. These can include your family but don’t keep it completely pure! If big sea side houses and fast cars really spin your “whizzer” then add them to your list.

Strategic Question #2: What is your Ideal Client Profile and what is their Specific Unmet Need? You need to develop a simple description of your Ideal Client and what they want. And ideally the “what they want” part is a need that they can’t get met someplace else.

This is not rocket science so keep it simple!

Include any generally applicable characteristics such as gender, religion, location, age bracket, occupation, company size, income and also a little bit about their buying motivators. Anything that you think is relevant is fair game for your list.

For example here’s my Ideal Client Profile: English speaking business owners who are comfortable with the internet and who want a marketing plan that is designed specifically for small business and that’s actually proven effective to bring in new clients.

Another example from a client: Fast food restaurant owners in the Asia Pacific region who want to increase their sales and profits through smarter sales software analysis.

And another client: Mothers in Australia, New Zealand and North America who want delicious but healthy Greek style yoghurt for themselves and their families and are prepared to pay a slight premium for healthier and more nutritious food

Note: in the last example we’ve excluded women without children to feed and we’ve excluded men despite being fully aware that some of those two categories will buy the product. However we want to create a marketing message (see below) that reflects their Specific Unmet Need and we can’t do that if we try to appeal to everyone. The message that’s designed for everyone is a message the no one is interested in.

Have you noticed that I haven’t asked you yet about your product/service yet? That’s because your product/service features are irrelevant at this point.

It’s not until you figure out what your market place wants that you are in a position to know if your product/service can be effectively marketed.

That may sound like bad news but it’s probably not. There’s a fair chance that your product/service, with a few tweaks, is fine. But you can’t assume that. If your product/service features are not well matched to market place needs, then getting people to buy will be very hard work.

An effective Marketing Plan always, always, always answers questions regarding market place needs before addressing the issue of product.

Strategic Question #3: What’s your Bold Promise? Another way of asking this question is “what does my Ideal Client have to hear in order for them to want to buy my product/service?”

There are a number of elements that combine to create successful marketing results but let me be explicitly clear: the two most critical factors are who you put your offer in front of (Ideal Client Profile) and what you actually offer; your “value proposition” as I call it.

The best offer in front of the wrong person is dead in the water. For example if you were a teetotaller and I offered you a great deal on a case of fine wine, even if I discounted it by 90%, would you buy? Probably not. That’s a great offer in front of the wrong person.

So now let’s assume that we’ve got the right audience let’s look at some different ways of presenting the offer.

For example: as a business owner which of the follow value propositions would you find more motivating?

“We show you how to grow your business” Versus “Increase your sales and profits by 50% within six months – or you don’t pay”

The second one is the hands down winner because it’s a bold promise, it includes a specific numerical benefit and it adds a guarantee. That combination is one Kick-Butt formula so take note.

Here’s another set of contrasting offers to further illustrate the point

“Your Building Consent Experts” Versus “Your Building Permit Approved In 14 Days Or Less – Guaranteed”

Do NOT skip this. I know your brain may hurt but this is critical. If you can come up with a bold promise like the ones above then you’ll achieve better marketing results and you’ll get those results faster and easier.

Your Ideal Client is bombarded with literally hundreds of marketing messages every day. You need to do something dramatic to make your message stand out.

Strategic Question #4: Where do my Ideal Clients hang out? So far you’ve figured out what motivates you, who is your Ideal Client, what their Specific Unmet Need is and what they need to hear in order to want to make an inquiry or to buy.

Now you need to figure out what they watch, who they listen to, what they read, which meetings they go to, which clubs or associations they are members of, which other businesses have them in their network, which websites they visit and what they search for on Google when they are looking for your type of products or services.

The reason is obvious: once you know where your Ideal Clients hang out then you can direct your bold promise to them with direct offer.

And you don’t have to spend much money on this. I’ve built multi-million dollar businesses on what I call my “Godfather” offers (an offer that you can’t refuse).

I identify the owner of a database that contains a lot of my Ideal Clients. I prepare a great offer for their network and then I offer the owner as much as 100% commission on the sales.

Why would I give away 100% of the sale? Simple: I want people in my database who are buyers, not tire-kickers. And the purpose of a sale is to get a client (most people think it’s the other way around).

Once I have a client, I can then nurture the relationship until they are ready to buy again… and again… and again.

(Bear in mind that most of my product offers are in digital format so I can afford to give away a lot because value delivery costs are zero.)

Strategic Question #5: What’s your Black Jellybean? If there is a jar of jellybeans at a counter I’ll be the guy standing there picking out the black ones. There is no such thing as liking black jellybeans. You either love them or you hate them.

Similarly, you need to figure out that what you offer, your Ideal Client will love and create/adjust/refine a product/service accordingly. And in creating something that your Ideal Client will love, probably means that there’s a whole bunch of people who hate it.

For example: in my business I work with clients almost exclusively on-line. My clients love the fact that they don’t have to travel to meet with me, that they are one click away from being straight back to work and that they don’t have to have me in their offices or factories.

Naturally, there are others who would work with me if only I would visit them face to face, three dimensionally.

And so my on-line strategy is a Black Jellybean, in that people either love it or hate it.

Another example: the Quick Beauty House offers 10 minute haircuts for $20… for women! For every 8 women who hate that idea there are 2 who love it. And in a city of fifteen million people that 2 out of 10 adds up to a whole lot of women!

Strategic Question #6: What will your Funnel look like? Imagine a Funnel, wide at the top and becoming narrower as is goes downward. A Funnel represents a series of product/service offerings that are free at the top and then increases in price as you descend down the Funnel and its design is a critical part of any effective Marketing Plan.

a Funnel starts at the top with free stuff and as people descend down the funnel there are less of them but they are spending more with you.

Let’s assume that whatever “Core Offering Product” you currently have it good or even great.

All too often business owners are trying to sell that Core Offering Product without romancing, seducing and engaging prospects with great added value free stuff first.

I got married three years ago. The millisecond I first saw my wife I was in love. Gone, smitten, out for the count!

Imagine I simply walked up to her and invited her to marry me on the spot. Or worse still, how do you think it would have gone if I’d asked her to join me in bed? Of course that’s a ridiculous idea but how often have you put your Core Offering Product in front of an Inquiring prospect and popped the question “So, you want to buy it or not?” (or words to that effect).

You need to ask yourself what you can offer for free, that if a person grabbed at it, they would be qualifying themselves as a likely client.

For example: I offer a free Marketing Plan training course. It runs over 30 days and contains a complete step by step training system for putting together a truly effective Marketing Plan for a business owner.

I offer the training course for free because the prospect can get great value from me without having to risk anything more than a few hours.

I know that most people who get my free course will never pay me even a cent, ever.

I also know that enough of the people who do that course will descend down to the next level of my Funnel and (wisely) accept my two month free trial offer for my Killer Marketing Club which is a great example of the “Easy Entry Level” product from the chart above.

And enough of the people who join the Killer Marketing Club will go on to invest in something else and so on.

And so the Funnel represents a game of patience and romance. It also says to a potential new client “you may have been burnt before so let me prove to you that I’m different and that I can add great value to you before you trust me with your money”.

Other examples and ideas for Free Added Value option: free trial period, free sample, free demonstration, free class, free added-value newsletters or Ezines, free check-up, free in-store tasting.

Patience + Free = Millions

Never underestimate the power of free!

Strategic Question #7: Which Streams will you tap into? A Stream refers to a source of prospects. I’ve identified well over sixty different places that most businesses can get qualified leads from. These include the traditional sources such as media advertising (don’t start here, you’ll burn too much money!), referral systems, Search Engine Optimization, banner adverts, direct mail or email campaigns, Joint Ventures, Host Beneficiaries, Social Media Marketing, Adwords, events, word of mouth and many more.

Your Marketing Plan needs to start off by listing at least ten different lead generation sources that you will start work on initially.

You take the one place that you think it will be easiest, cheapest and fastest to get leads and you put a system in place for getting your message out to that place and you then measure the results and when necessary, you refine the offer until you have a proven marketing system that brings in a predictable stream of new clients.

And then you do the same for the next system and so on until you have layered ten proven marketing systems on top of each other.

At that point you’ll have a flow of new leads and new clients.

Conclusion: Creating a truly effective Marketing Plan that gives you a flow of high quality new clients, predictably and systematically, is both critically important to the health of your business as well as pivotal to your success in life financially and personally.

For free training on creating a marketing plan visit: www.8020Center.com/FreeMarketingPlan/

7 Urgent Things To Do Before Writing Your Marketing Plan

Have you ever wondered how to streamline creating a marketing plan?

Can I show you 7 simple questions to ask to help speed up creating your next marketing plan?

The first question to ask is, “Do I really need a marketing plan.”

You may not. If everything you are doing to bring in all the business you want, don’t change a thing. Even if you or your staff are bored with it. Let it keep profiting until it stops profiting.

Next ask, “What do I want a marketing plan to do for me and my business.”

Many marketing plans are written as part of a business plan. Also, marketing plans are written when looking for new or more funding. Most marketing plans are created as a road map, a guide to the next 12-18 months of marketing campaigns

Now, “What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?” Answer in a compelling way, why anyone would choose your products, services or ideas over all the other choices they have, including doing nothing.

Of course, you are making and “Irresistible Offer” every time you are in front of someone. Business and marketing are all about offers. You give me this and I’ll give you that. Keep in mind that without an offer, no business transpires. Think of the many times you have seen an advertisement or marketing message and couldn’t figure out what was being offered. Don’t make this critical mistake. State exactly what you will be offering in your marketing plan.

OK, “Where is your ideal future client or customer?” Not just anyone, but who is the ideal lead to generate for your products, services or ideas. Where can you find enough of your ideal future clients to be profitable? When you do find them, how much do you know about their hopes, aspirations, desires, fears, problems, etc? Take off your shoes and walk in your future clients shoes for a week and see, hear and feel what they see, hear and feel. Then and only then, will you know their real problems.

I’m sure you’ve decided on which, if any, of the many of the different “marketing media options you’ll want to test.” Options like direct response mailing campaigns, yellow page ads or email marketing. How about tele-marketing, newspaper display ads or Webinars? Networking, Social media marketing or pay-per-click marketing? We could go on and on and on, but you get the idea. Where are you going to spend your marketing budget

Finally, as long as you are going after new clients, “How are you capturing their personal information?” I don’t mean their shoe size, waist size or height (but you may need them depending on what you are selling). Are you asking for their name, email address and snail mail address? If not, how will you communicate with them in the future?

Now grab a piece of paper and start answering these questions.Doing so will focus your marketing plan and anyone reading it will know exactly the what, where, when, who and how you are planning to market your business.

OK, I admit it; there are more than 7 questions to answer. You should have seen the ones I edited out. I’ve saved them for another article in the near future, so keep checking back.

Why Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs Really Need A Solid Marketing Plan?

When I ask entrepreneurs and small business owners, it is not unusual for not having any marketing plan. I once read that Sir Richard Branson never had any marketing plan when he started the 1st Virgin business many years ago. In fact in one study of entrepreneurship (I couldn’t recall the name of the study) was that as much as 50% of entrepreneurs and business owners don’t have a business plan and marketing plan when they first started the business.

What was the outcome? As much as 90% businesses started by entrepreneurs and small business went busted or failed within a year. I experienced one of the many busts few years ago (with my cafe business) because i don’t really have a proper and “the few solid sheets” called a marketing plan.

Coming back to my questions to entrepreneurs and small business owners, many of their answers sounded like this, “I don’t really have one”, “It’s in my head coz I know the business so well” and worse, “I don’t know what is marketing plan”! If you happen to be in one of these categories, rest assured you are not the only one. And to perfectly honest, that’s the ultimate reason why I turned back to my writing board where I was actually in the middle of writing (rather perfecting!) a personal development programs. I dropped that program and quickly drafted and started Marketing Plan Breakthrough S6PEC because many of you need it, seriously.

But, I don’t specifically mean my own Marketing Plan S6PEC Framework because there are so many versions and gurus out there that can give you the benefit of marketing plan. Of course I am going to say mine is a lot better because it’s a practical and practitioner’s guide. Other than being a consultant, I also have performed marketing manager role, entrepreneur role, business manager role, investor and student of entrepreneurship (during my MBA!). But that’s not my main point. My main point is for you to have a marketing plan to guide your business. Which one? Well it is up to you!

So, to put things in perspective; why do you really need a marketing plan?

Guide
– in a marketing you will think, record and document all your ideas, products and services offering, price, distribution channel, programs, sales direction, customer segment and so on. I have experienced whereby I suddenly realized that my business is not going on the right direction because I didn’t follow my marketing plan. Have you experienced that? Or perhaps you suddenly realized that the thing you do know supposed to be done many months ago because you forgot about it? And you forgot because you don’t jot it down and plan for it? This is what I mean that marketing plan as a guide. I cover this in my Marketing Plan Breakthrough S6PEC.

Ideas
– people said the more you talk about your ideas the more refine it becomes. I think this is true. Did you ever experience when you talk to more people you generated a lot more ideas? When people give you feedback it triggers another dimension of your ideas? If you are, so where do you keep all these ideas? It should be in a marketing plan.

Resource Plan
– in marketing, there is only one thing that’s scarce: RESOURCES. Some people have a lot of money but lacked ideas and another group is the other extreme; more ideas and less money. Many of us probably the later than the former! In the marketing plan we will tackle things like people to hire, pricing, distribution plan, sales programs budget and so on.

Strategy
– similar to business strategy, marketing plan will capture strategies required to support your business strategy. For example if your business goal is to achieve 20% increase in sales, your marketing strategy would be to 1) introduce new product, 2) increase price for premium offerings, 3) recruit more distributors and offer commission scheme and so on. Strategy is king. When you can see your business in totality, I can assure you that you will find it easier to manoeuvre. Marketing plan is the place to address all these issues.

Risk
– in our marketing plan we shouldn’t only concern about making money or positive points, we also should address the risk we are taking. for example it is common for a marketing plan to capture things like, “require additional staff to handle sales call”, “additional investment from the management budget will increase chances of increasing 10% sales target” and many more. Imagine if you can factor your risk earlier and think through it, wouldn’t it be better for you?

Pricing
– I once said in my Marketing Plan Breakthrough S6PEC that, “Price is the key determinants of your profits”. I stand firm to keep it that way. In your marketing plan, you will address pricing plan for your distributors, customers, multiple segments (some business charge differently – price discrimination) and cost price i.e. your raw materials and things like that. Not many address price correctly and bear in my mind that we need to standby few pricing plan to respond to the market. Take for example during festive season, if everyone is lowering price and slashed their price or even ignited a price war, what do you do about that? Follow suit or wait? If you want to follow, how far? If you want to wait, how long? You capture all this in pricing plan.

Customer Segment
– this is talked about most of the time, but let’s accept the fact that today’s customers are fragmented to smaller niches. Your product and service will not be consumed by only one segment and at critical mass. it is likely to be consumed by smaller segment and multi. No more critical mass, but rather a solid spread of niches. For example, who buys iPod’s today? If Apple only think about yuppies they are making a big mistake because apparently iPod is also used by women and people with active lifestyle. Another example, who buys from hypermarket? If hypermarket only focuses on households they may not survive or be successful like today. Hypermarket main segment is actually small business restaurant operators that buy in larger quantity compare to households and on daily basis. I’ve been there, I know! LOL

Corrective Plan
– a marketing plan is a living document. Trust me, the moment you have it and experience planning your marketing, you will realize this. Therefore it is a plan that allows you to assess past strategies and results and at the same time allow you to make necessary corrective measures to fit your business growth. for example, who expected the 2008 financial crisis to hit us so badly? No one other than the few so called “economists” but how did responded to it? Severely. Many businesses closed including many giants. But the good thing is, many have a solid marketing and business plans, therefore they make quick corrective actions and moved forward.

Innovation
– I once sat in a meeting of project and business updates and suddenly one of the directors said, actually with all that we have now we can be in the medical device market. Violaaa!!! This medical device company used to service government hospitals and they have all the equipments. It’s just that they never thought of going direct to the hospitals and take the lion share of the business. In that meeting, after going through the company yearly updates, this “innovation” came instantaneously and the next year they are pitching about it to the government hospitals directly.

Imagine if you can do all these and manage all these in a marketing plan? Systematic, organized, well thought, innovative and captured all your pertinent business information, don’t you find having a marketing plan is useful for your business?

One thing about my business, I don’t sell templates. I only sell REAL content. I believe that template is only to give you the general overview of direction but not how-to do it. That’s why I highly not recommended you choose to download or purchase marketing templates because I have seen them i personally think it won’t help you much. Let me share you a recent story about template.

I have childhood friend who wanted to open a small business. I offered him my service at $$$ which is so much below market rate because we have been friends for 20 years. He said no, because he thinks there is another cheaper way to do it or in other words “resourceful is my middle name” kinda thing. So I let him do that. I offered him five days later that, if he needs me to view the marketing plan I will do it for free over tea. He showed me a marketing template he bought for USD 25 and all he got was a template!!! I scolded him and cursed the site that provided such thing. It was just boxes everywhere and not even a paragraph on how to fill those boxes. Well, this is what I mean and I defy being in that business because that’s cheating. By the way i got to do my friend’s job after that.:)

What I offered is much simpler, richer and with all the things you need. Firstly, my blog is to help you enhance and as a source to guide you on the marketing plan you purchase. Well, let’s don’t talk about purchase yet.

Would you want to view the actual content or maybe download the Marketing Plan Breakthrough S6PEC Introduction first? Please send your inquiry to [email protected] Information is FREE. Otherwise please go to http://www.marketingplanbook.com