Marketing is the set of activities and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, and getting value in return.
This BizConnect guide will assist you with developing a marketing plan and implementing low-cost marketing tactics:
Why you need a marketing plan
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A marketing plan provides a business with several benefits:
- It gives employees something to rally behind. If you want your employees to feel committed to your business, it's important to share with them your vision of where the company is headed in the years to come. People often get excited about a well-written and well-thought-out marketing plan, so consider making a summarised version of it available to everyone in the company
- It provides a destination. The point of the plan is to get you somewhere in line with your vision for the business. Think of it as a roadmap
- Your marketing plan is a step-by-step guide for your company's success. Writing it will compel you to assess your company from top to bottom and make sure that all components are working together
- It gives you a big picture. Writing your marketing plan is the best time to do some high-level thinking about the business and its immediate and long-term future
Defining your unique selling proposition
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A unique selling proposition (USP) will ensure your marketing stands out. It's about letting customers know they can expect added value from you.
It may be difficult to settle on one killer feature, so rather focus on a number of persuasive reasons to do business with your company that then add up to a USP that will give you an advantage over your competition. Remember that your USP doesn't necessarily have to be unique to you, your product or your services. You simply have to create the perception that it is unique in the mind of your audience.
This concept of a USP is an important factor to consider when putting together a marketing strategy. You need to define that facet of your business that you can promote as being unique, whether it's in the products or services, how you sell, or the customer service you deliver. Somewhere there will be something you can transform into a USP. It's up to you to find it and then communicate it to your potential market.
Some questions to ask when developing your USP:
- What is unique about your business?
- If you're not unique, are you better than the competition?
- What makes you better?
- What value do you provide?
- What quality do you provide?
- Do you back up you products and services with great customer service?
- Are you totally reliable?
- Are you prepared to spend time helping solve customers' problems?
The answers to these questions will determine your USP and you will be able to integrate it into your marketing plan.
How to develop a marketing plan
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A good marketing plan conveys your company's vision to target markets, customers and employees. It outlines your company's long-term goals and the path to get there, including key initiatives and actions.
To create a good marketing plan you need:
Marketing plan outline
It's advisable to create a marketing plan that is to the point, yet in-depth. An outline for your marketing plan can be achieved by answering the following questions:
- What is the purpose of your marketing?
- Who is your target market?
- What is your niche?
- What are the benefits and competitive advantage?
- What is your identity?
- What tactics, strategies and weapons will you use to carry out your marketing?
- How much money will you spend on your marketing; what's your marketing budget?
Once you have implemented your plan, ensure that you make time to review and revise it where necessary.
10 Low-cost marketing tactics
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Take the time to go to industry and customer events. Hand out business cards and make contact with prospective customers, partners, suppliers and mentors. By doing this, you will remain top of mind.
Public relations can be a cost-effective way of publicising your business. If you are introducing a new product or service to the market, if you have won a large contract, or if you have an expert opinion to offer on a topic that is related to your business, put it down in a media release and send to the relevant publications and online media. You can also participate in radio and television debates to increase your profile.
3. E-mail marketing
Communicating with customers and prospects via e-mail is cost-effective and efficient. It can also be measured, which makes it an attractive option.
4. Referral marketing
This is a structured and systematic process to maximise word of mouth. It encourages, informs, promotes and rewards customers and contacts who talk about your business, products and services.
5. Social media
Marketing your business on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube is free. Remember that marketing communication on social media must provide value for the reader. Focus on benefits to the customer.
6. Google AdWords
You can create ads using keywords, which are words or phrases related to your business. When people search on Google using one of your keywords, your ad may appear next to or above the search results. That means you're advertising to an audience that's already interested in what you do. When someone clicks on your ad, they land on your website where they can learn more about your business or make a purchase. You can set your ads to appear only to people searching in a particular city, region or country. Best of all, you pay only if people click your ads.
7. Content marketing on your website
Content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It involves creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract and engage a clearly defined and understood target market with the objective of driving profitable customer action. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent.
The idea is that if your business delivers consistent, ongoing valuable information to customers or buyers, they will reward you with their business and loyalty. Examples of content marketing include videos, white papers and thought-leadership articles.
Events can be an inexpensive way to expose clients and prospects to your business. Remember that these occasions are about providing value for your customers. If you are in software development, for example, you could host a seminar in which you discuss issues related to customer needs and invite people to contribute their thoughts in an open forum.
9. Public speaking
Public speaking is another great way to generate publicity for your business. Sharpen up your speaking skills, ensure that you are a subject matter expert in your field, and make yourself available to speak at industry events, and local business forums such as chamber of commerce meetings.
There are several affordable ways to advertise your small business. Vehicle advertising is one option. You can opt for magnetic signs that can be removed as necessary. Magazine advertising is a very effective way of reaching a specific target market. You can also send out promotional leaflets with your invoices.