Posted by : Amanda Stein Thursday, May 17, 2012

Whether you are an established business or just beginning, your business can benefit from a new marketing plan. Marketing plans should be looked at and revised on a consistent basis. When done right, developing a marketing plan can help you see where your business stands while mapping out a clear and concise to-do list.

When a business begins marketing without a clear plan on what to do, it becomes very easy to end up with a million jumbled thoughts and ideas which oftentimes leads up to incomplete, visible work that reflects your business poorly to your potential customers.  Here I have compiled my tips to a successful marketing plan in a serious of steps (each step will appear as a different blog post). 

Step #1- Pull together current statistics

Look into your current customer base (if you have one). 
What means of advertising is useful to your customers now? Start asking your customers, "Where did you  hear about us?" Ask customers to fill out questionnaires which include that question.

Look into other businesses like yours, what are their best means of advertising? 
A great deal of this can be done by searching online. Look up your competitors - What online portals are bringing them the most feedback? This is not to say that you will not want to use other means (especially if there are websites that they are not listed on), but focus at first only on the online means that are going to bring you the most feedback.

Who uses your services and products?
Really look into what your business's main customer base is made up of...Do you provide services to individuals primarily over the age of 40? If the answer is yes, it isn't a good idea to advertise in a magazine targeted to teenagers!

Why do your customers use your products and services?
What need do you fulfill for your customers? This is one of those times where being able to put your self into someone else's shoes come in-handy. Put yourself in your customers shoes...if you have that need where would you go to find it? Ask a few other people that question, just to gain a clear perspective. Asking this question also opens the door for future product ideas.

What material will best reach them?
Is it print, online, radio or tv? To gain a useful perspective on your customers you have to understand what they do from day-to-day. This kind of perspective is harder for businesses with a larger marketing base (i.e a restaurant), but if that is the case you will realize early on that you will have to use more than one of these methods to be successful.

What information about your business would your customers like to know?
Have you ever told a story where you captivated your audience and every person in the room was intently listening to what you had to say? That is the exact way you need to advertise to your customers - Captivate your audience! Use a more interactive approach to advertising - Yes, this does take more time, but the pay-off is life-long dedicated customers (which leads word-of-mouth advertising).

Determine Your Budget
After you have compiled a list of your customers wants, needs and best ways to advertise, you will need to determine your current budget and how much you can spare on advertising. Trim the fat to your advertising want list. And don't worry if you have a limited budget - there are a lot of places online to advertise for free. Here are 10 of my favorites:

It is important to keep all that information you have compiled, even if you are not going forward with it at this time, to look back on it for the future when you do have the additional funds.

Have additional tips for small business about pulling together statistics for their marketing plan? Please leave your comment below! 

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