4 Simple Steps To A Marketing Plan

by: Doug Michaelides

Marketing can be a complex endeavor, but most of the time companies and not-for-profit organizations are just looking for a way to “get the message out”.  Unfortunately, most people don’t know where to start so a lot of good products and good causes never really get off the ground.

At the risk of insulting the marketing cognoscenti, let me assure you that at its core, marketing isn’t that difficult.  If you can answer just a few questions, you’ll be well on the way to creating awareness and interest.

Who is your target audience?

“Everyone” isn’t a valid answer.  What you’re trying to understand is who are the most important decision-makers and influencers when it comes to your offering.  When you’re clear on this, you’ll have a better view of their motivations and habits, which will help you communicate with them more effectively

What are your key messages (including offers)?

Exactly what do you want to say to your audience?  Articulate which of their problems you can solve and what value you’ll provide them.  Explain why you are the best place to get this solution.  Even better if there is some urgency.

What communication vehicles do you have at your disposal with which to reach your audience?

Since you know whom you want to reach, find out where they hang out.  Fish where the fishes are!  This includes what media your audience consumes (whether traditional or on-line), what events they attend and what associations they belong to.  Remember, social media is the great marketing equalizer – even small-scale marketers can afford to employ LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to get their messages out.

What’s the “call to action”?

If you’ve done a good job with the other three questions, you’ll manage to get in front of your target audience. When you do, it’s time to make your pitch!  Whether the request is to visit a store, click on a link, request a quote or make a donation, have a clear “ask”.  Since you’ve just made contact, you can’t expect them to exert too much effort, so make your request as easy as possible (and give them a good reason).

With these four questions answered, you‘ll have the foundation of a marketing plan.  Then you can set targets (How many people do you want to reach?  How many leads do you want to generate?) and plan a budget.  The rest, as they say, is just execution.  Which, of course, takes a lot of creativity and effort, but at least you’ll be starting off on the right foot.

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