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When starting a business, we have the temptation of jumping right in with enthusiasm and excitement.  We sat for months talking to our friends and family about our product and ideas.  While it makes us want to jump in quickly, we must be extremely careful not to jump in without first creating a foundation.   If we don’t have a foundation, we fall into a dangerous business deathtrap that could stop our success before it starts.  This week, we will help you avoid a marketing deathtrap and create a strong foundation.

What is your foundation?

YOUR STRATEGY IS YOUR FOUNDATION!  Do you think a restaurant without a menu could be successful?  Definitely not!  The patrons would be extremely confused, the wait staff stressed, and the cooks would live in utter chaos.  I don’t think the doors would be open for very long, and it would be miserable for everyone while it lasted, which wouldn’t be long.  We would never want to use this restaurant as a model for our business.  If you do not create a firm foundation by having a strategic marketing plan, your business will look like the restaurant with no menu and your doors will shut before you have a chance for success.  This situation is one we want to avoid at all costs.  How do we avoid this disaster?  We need a strategic marketing plan to define our marketing and our direction. It needs to include enough detail so everyone will know what to do.  Then, our business will be like our favorite restaurant: It has a easy-to-follow menu, excellent food, and all of our friends and community know it’s the place to be.

How do you create a strategic marketing plan?

You need TEN key components and actions to create your foundation:

  1. Articulate your mission, vision, and goals. How do they fit into your marketing plan?
  2. Identify your target audience.  If they are an organization, what type?  What are their characteristics?  What does a qualified prospect look like?
  3. Define your product-service offering.  What are the benefits and will your target audience like it?
  4. Understand your competition.  How are they similar and different from you?
  5. Define your EXTRA-ordinary value proposition.  Make sure it is extra-ordinary and NOT BORING!!  It should be unique and credible.  By credible, I mean you should always be able to back up your claims.  defendable and sustainable!  By sustainable, I mean this is something that should work today, next week and next year.
  6. Spend time characterizing your branding personality.  This is your business’s personality and character.  Don’t take it lightly.  Spend time on everything from your email address to how you answer the telephone.
  7. Know what marketing ingredients you will need to communicate your message, positioning, and brand.
  8. Prioritize your marketing ingredients in the form of a rolling 90-day marketing calendar.
  9. Delineate your marketing budget.  What are you going to invest?
  10. Develop your message and core story.  Be able to communicate it in 45 minutes, 15 minutes, 5 minutes and 30 seconds.

The Benefits

After you apply and implement the components and actions, you will have a plan to drive your tactical marketing actions, define who your targeting and why, with what message and through what vehicles.  The actions will take some time, but it is always better to spend the time in the beginning.  If you have already started your business and as you read, you are realizing your business is like the restaurant without the menu, you should stop now and establish your foundation before you fall more into the deathtrap.  It may not be too late, and with the right menu, you will attract the patrons you want.

Those of us with the courage and aptitude to start our own businesses are not lacking in new and revolutionary ideas.  Our minds work constantly, turning ideas about our businesses over and over in our heads.  As we do this, we have to remember to first establish a foundation before heading straight into action with great fervor.  This firm foundation, a strategic marketing plan, will ultimately make all the difference between success and failure.

Category : PR / Strategy

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