The Top 10 Questions That Will Help You Create A Marketing Plan That Works For You
(Even Though It Might Not Work For Anybody Else!)
By Veronika (Ronnie) Noize, the Marketing Coach
One of the greatest challenges many new businesses face when they start up is creating a viable marketing plan that works for their unique talents. One-person micro companies, often called "solo-preneurs," usually understand their business own models, yet may not have the traditional marketing background to distill that knowledge into a cohesive marketing plan or communicate it effectively to others. If you're in that position, these questions will help you develop a very basic understanding of what it will take to create a marketing plan that works for your business.
1. Who is the person (my ideal customer) who wants what I have for sale?
Identifying your ideal customer is the first step toward understanding what you need to do to market your business. What you are looking to do is to define the key characteristics of the person who would most want what you have to offer. Hint: Not everybody will want what you've got to offer. Unless you've got an exclusive on oxygen or water, if you think the whole world would want your product or service, you're making a rookie mistake.
2. What does my ideal customer really want when purchasing my product, information or service?
No matter what you're selling, be it your time, expertise, or the greatest mousetrap ever invented, people buy for wants rather than needs, and those wants are not always immediately obvious. Take me, for example: As a marketing coach, I help people develop systems and tools for marketing themselves with integrity and ease. But guess what? People don't care about the process or tools I offer, they care about the results of our work, which is why when people ask me what I do, I tell them that I help small businesses attract more clients. My clients need help marketing because what they want are more clients. Very subtle distinction, yet it speaks to my target audience because it focuses on the results (what they get), rather than the process.
3. What else do I know about my ideal customer?
You want to get inside the mind of the customer to really understand what's driving the buying decision, as well as where and how to find your customer. What behaviors distinguish your ideal customer? Is the need for your product or service seasonal (sparked by weather or events at a certain time of year), or constant? The more you know about your ideal customer, the better chance you have of speaking directly to their wants in a way that is compelling.
4. Where can I find my ideal customer to communicate my message?
Does your ideal customer get information from magazines, newspapers, web sites or friends? Is your ideal client thinking about purchasing your product or service in a store or at home? Unless your ideal customer is a treasure hunter, you'll have to find a means to communicate with him or her that is within his or her daily communication threads. For example, if you were selling ultra-premium ice cream, it probably wouldn't be a good idea to advertise in a magazine for diabetics.
5. What do I have to say to capture my ideal customers' attention and interest?
This is the tricky part for so many entrepreneurs. Just like question number two, think wants (benefits) not needs (features). If your ideal customer identifies with being part of an exclusive group, perhaps your message would include something about your product not being for everyone, only for people who are ready for or up to the challenge of what your product offers. Many products and services effectively appeal to what people want to be, rather than what they want to have. That's why models get so much work in commercials; they represent the fantasy existence that people want when purchasing that product, be it a car, underpants, or a burrito.
6. If money were no object, what means would I use to get my ideal customers' attention?
Think BIG! Let the ideas just flow. The purpose of this question is not to frustrate you, but to surface possibilities that can be turned into opportunities. For example, if money were no object, maybe you'd like to advertise in a national magazine for people who fit your ideal customer profile. But since money is an issue, advertising may not be an option. But perhaps renting that magazine's subscriber list is within your means, if a direct mail campaign is the way you'd like to go. Or perhaps a product review or article about you/your service or product would be of interest to that magazine. If you don't censor yourself, you may find lots of related and relatively inexpensive opportunities that you wouldn't have allowed yourself to consider because of cost.
7. Since money is an issue, what can I do to get my ideal customers' attention?
Here's the place to be very practical. If you only have a limited budget, how do you get the most bang for your buck? Most people find that a combination of several low-cost tactics works far better than blowing the entire budget on a one-shot ad, because people generally don't respond to just one message received about a new product or service.
8. When am I going to do what I have to do to get my ideal customers' attention?
The hardest thing for many entrepreneurs to face is that in order to make the sale, they have to actually do something. And usually they are going to have to do it not just once, but over and over and over again. Entrepreneurs are often creative people, and the thought of repetition makes them shudder. Having a calendar of specific tactics for three months at a time is one way to schedule the tasks so that they don't seem endless. At the three-month mark, a review of what's worked and what hasn't will help you determine what needs to be done in the next quarter, and so on, until you're a millionaire.
9. How will I get my product, service or information into my ideal customers' hands?
If you have a product, chances are you will need some sort of distribution system. That means setting up relationships with retailers or distributors if you're selling into a channel such as retail stores, or a fulfillment process if you're selling direct to your customers. If you're selling a service or information, you'll need to consider whether you need an office, or if you can deliver the service to your customers' home or work locations, or even if you can provide your service electronically via the web or by phone.
10. How will I know when I've reached my goals?
Working without specific goals is the best way to ensure burnout and frustration that I know of. Set your goals, be they in number of units sold, or hours of service delivered, and keep an eye on how you're doing on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Having specific goals to work toward will help keep you motivated and on track, and will also provide you with valuable information about what's working for you, as well as what needs to be adjusted.
OK, so you've answered all these questions honestly and completely but you still need help, so now what? Call me for a free chat about what it will take to get you where you want to be. You can reach me at 360-882-1298. And pat yourself on the back; if you've answered all these questions, you are head-and-shoulders above the rest of the crowd of entrepreneurs, and well on your way to success!
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Copyright © Veronika Noize 2002. All rights reserved.