Most people, from my experience, write a business plan and then file it away. These are the ones I am talking about here who are most likely not able to "market their way out of a paper bag!" They spend time properly researching the market and their competitors but have no focussed plan as to how to effectively use this information to their advantage. What a waste of time! It may have helped them achieve their objective of obtaining funding but a business plan is far more than that. It is should also be a PLAN OF ACTION. The action part should include marketing, social media and sales strategies.
Notice that here I have included social media. This is because in this day and age it should be included as an integral part of any marketing strategy. Along with any strategy there should be a detailed, schedule of actions with deadlines to help keep you on track as you project manage the implementation the development of business through your strategy.
The reason for having a detailed strategy and action plan is to ensure that all your efforts to promote your business and gain sales are focussed and targeted in the areas that will gain you the highest potential. However, a word of warning:
Marketing Is The Prelude To Selling. A sales strategy is also required even if your business is done totally online (online shops are notably more difficult to get off the ground and gain sales than retail shops)
So what should you include in this Marketing Action Plan?
- Brand image and logo development and design - only one image and logo or you confuse your brand image. Use colour or design to differentiate different parts of the business if required.
- The design and production of marketing material - business cards, brochures etc.
- The design and development of your web site - with potential for interaction and sales/bookings where ever possible and applicable.
- An action plan of events - launch party etc., to promote the business (if required).
- An action plan of publicity - press releases and a list of media contacts you have made to ensure a better chance of getting free publicity.
- A contents schedule and action plan for each of your social media platforms - this should include a plan of how you post, share and comment and how often as well as how you will use analytics to assess the effectiveness of your strategy and make changes to improve it.
- A sales strategy both for online and offline sales - without this all the marketing actions are wasted.
In the same way that you review your business turnover and finances against your cash flow projections, as a means of keeping on course and making necessary adjustments, a month by month analysis of the marketing, social media and sales actions help reduce risk and enhance business growth.
Chrissie Webber is the manager of the University of South Wales, Graduate Business Incubator Centre, The Business Loft in Newport, South Wales. The Loft offers office and co-working space for start-up businesses and support such as training, mentoring and networking for business growth.
With over 30 years experience as an entrepreneur Chrissie also runs her management development and coaching business CD Consultancy & Training Group and Chrissie Designs Jewellery a wire work and wedding jewellery business.