The key to creating a strategic marketing plan that makes sense for your business is— good research! You need to have an in-depth understanding of your business industry and target market. That’s the first step. Once you understand your business industry and target market, you’ll be able to determine which marketing and advertising techniques work best to reach them. In this blog I discuss how to effectively research your business industry and target market, what information you need to know about them and what marketing strategy (or strategies) you can use to connect with them.
Learn the Facts About Your Business Industry
Your marketing plan should reflect a deep understanding of what it takes to reach the target audience for your business industry. It will only reflect that if you know the ins and outs of what’s happening in your business industry. The best (and simplest) way to find the important details of what’s happening in your business industry is to purchase an industry report from IBISWorld or FirstResearch. Both sites provide industry reports to get to the nitty gritty of what’s happening in hundreds of business industries.
Their industry reports cover the following topics— the main activities of the industry, similar industries, current and future industry performance, industry trends and risks, key success factors, barriers to entry, operations and technology, demand determinants, major markets, and competition. The most important of these topics (in relation to developing a good marketing strategy) is demand determinants, major markets and competition. Demand determinants will help you understand why people by your products or services and how often or when. You will be able to develop your strategic marketing plan once you understand this.
Learn the Facts About Your Target Market
Your target market (or target audience) is the group of people (or businesses) that buy your products or services. In the marketing plan you need to identify who are these people and/or businesses you are targeting. If your target audience is people, you should be able to outline their age, sex, race, and location (at the very least). Other factors such as educational attainment, income, and occupation can also be identified. If your target audience is businesses, their industries, years in business, number of employees and payroll, and amount of industry sales should be identified. In addition, the location of the businesses you are targeting should be outlined.
All of this data can be obtained via the U.S. Census Bureau’s American FactFinder Tool. The tool allows you to select the different characteristics associated with your target market (such as age, sex, race, location, industry type, etc). Once selected, it will find pre-compiled data tables that contain this information and can be used to determine the size of your target market, how much income they earn or revenue they generate, and where they are located (amongst other things). Knowing these things about your target audience may help you determine how to reach them via marketing communication.
Identify Different Marketing Strategies That Work
As I stated before knowing your audience and the current demand determinants for your business industry will help you understand which marketing strategy (or strategies) will work best. The right marketing strategy will vary from industry to industry. Here’s a list of the different ways you can market and advertise the business to attract customers that will enable the business to increase its market share:
- TV Advertising
- Radio Advertising
- Newspaper & Magazine Advertising
- Bulk Mail Advertising
- Internet Marketing (e.g. Search Engine Marketing, Email Marketing, and Social Media Marketing, etc)
- Networking via Business Associations or Chambers of Commerce
- Bidding on RFP’s or submitting RFQ’s (RFP’s and RFQ’s are usually done when a contract for service is available and a business is looking for a provider to complete those services).
- Word of Mouth
- Event Advertising
Get Help with Developing Your Marketing Plan
A strategic marketing plan is just one part of a complete business plan. Developing a complete business plan with a marketing plan included can be a challenge for many entrepreneurs and business owners. If you need to develop a marketing plan that outlines the marketing strategy (or strategies) you will use to attract customers, I strongly suggest you consider working with an expert. An expert will be able to do the necessary industry and target market research required to help you develop a marketing plan that can be used as a guide for implementing a marketing campaign for your business.
The best experts will identify the business strategy for obtaining new customers (and keeping existing customers), the marketing mix (i.e. the different marketing techniques that will be used) and the marketing budget in a manner that easy to understand and follow. I recommend QT Business Solutions for all your business and marketing plan development needs. They are experts at researching business industries and target market that enable them to develop good marketing plans. Contact them today for more information.
Using a Marketing Plan Outline or Marketing Plan Template
While I will always suggest working with an expert when attempting to do things like obtaining business capital or writing a business plan, I also suggest you learn the basics of how to do them. Understanding how to write your own marketing plan and/or business plan will help you better understand what’s actually in it. I’ve helped several hundred entrepreneurs and business owners write their business plan over the years. Many of them didn’t understand the information in their business plan because they didn’t write it. Writing as much of your marketing plan or business plan as you can (before seeking expert help), will help you better understand it and be able to present it to someone else (with ease).
For example, if you plan on applying for small business financing of any kind, you’ll likely have to present your business and marketing plan (verbally). This means you need to know and understand what’s in it. Try using a marketing plan outline or marketing plan template to start writing your own strategic marketing plan. After you’ve written as much as you can, contact QT Business Solutions for further assistance. Get a free business plan outline that also includes a marketing plan template you can use to write your business plan.