For the past several months we have detailed the steps involved in putting together a great marketing plan – from understanding the realities of your marketplace, to defining the specifics of your business. Now it’s time to put that plan into action. And even more importantly, to remember that this is not the end, but the beginning of consistent and persistent review of how things are going and what needs to change.
You’ve done all the ground work and have the best possible understanding of your current business environment. Now, how are you going to get the word out to the world – and most importantly, to your targeted market? Your action plan for implementation needs to include at least 5 crucial factors:
- Media plan – What are the most effective channels for communicating your message? Will you use traditional advertising channels like television, radio or print advertising? Will you utilize some of the web-based outlets like Google, Facebook, or ads on some of the other social media applications? Are there pertinent publications in your area that could be useful for you? What about networking in your local community or joining your local Chamber of Commerce? It’s time to figure out what mix of media communications will work best for you. (And of course, it’s my job to remind you that promotional products are the key to having your contacts remember you, no matter how you plan to advertise your business.)
- Budget – Be sure you have a clear understanding of what it will cost to use your chosen communication channels. Don’t just look at the bottom line when doing this analysis, but also consider the cost per impression – how much exposure to your specific target market(s) will you get for each dollar spent? And, be sure to measure the effectiveness of those impressions by reviewing the return you get back on your investment in terms of actual collected sales dollars. Measure your ROI to help with the development of future budget plans.
- Schedule / Tracking – Use a calendar or scheduling tool so that you know what to expect when. Know when your chosen publications need to have your materials and your payments, and know when they will actually be published. Write down and plan for upcoming events like trade shows, expos, community fairs, etc. (And don’t forget to order your promotional items at least a few weeks ahead of the time that you actually need them. It’s always to good to have them on hand.) Leave room for some flexibility, too. You want to be able to respond to last minute opportunities if they will serve you and your market well.
- Assignments – If you’re fortunate enough to have co-workers to help you implement your action plan, utilize them, or call on other professionals that you can trust and rely on to help with items that are outside of your area of expertise. In-house, or out-sourced, make sure that the assignments for each individual are clearly delineated with specific deadlines, as well as a follow up procedure to keep everyone accountable for their tasks.
- Evaluation – This is the part of your plan that will keep it current. Set up a system that works for you, and review the return on investment for all of your activities on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. Keep your eye on the earlier-defined factors in your marketplace and the local political environment, and make adjustments in your plan to reflect major shifts. If you’re not seeing the results you want from your actions, make a change. We’ve all heard the definition of insanity, and we cannot afford to get caught in that trap with our businesses.
Your marketing plan is meant to be a living, changing document. Nothing is engraved in stone, and even if “we’ve always done it this way”, that doesn’t mean we have to keep doing it that way. That said, fear of change is very real for most people, so be sensible and patient with yourself. Make changes that reflect your business realities, and if they don’t work out, then make more changes!
I’ll be happy to send you an outline of the basic ingredients for a successful plan which have been detailed in these 4 blog posts. Enter your contact information on the left side of the screen to get signed up for our newsletter. If you’re already a newsletter subscriber, then visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AndradePromo, “Like” our page and leave a comment with your email address. Or just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to forward it to you.