Sunday, August 5, 2012

Building a Marketing Plan? 10 Questions to Answer.

Building a marketing plan? Here are 10 questions to get you started.
  1. Do you have a clear definition of your target market?  Perhaps you're considering expanding your target market so you can close deals that otherwise would not have come your way. On the other hand, you might narrow your definition of a target, putting your focus on those prospects most likely to become customers, maybe in a specific niche where your company has good market share. Either way, your decision will drive your other marketing decisions.  
  1. Is your current marketing mix delivering results? Most companies measure results by the number of qualified leads generated and the amount of visibility gained for their company, brand, and products. For example, email or snail mail lists tend to score low on both lead generation and visibility because they push your message out at a single moment in time to people who may not be interested. Conversely, specialized search engines and banner ads on targeted websites provide consistent presence and engage interested prospects who are actively searching for products like yours.  
  1. How visible are you? While having a robust website is essential, it isn’t enough. Your audience uses multiple online resources to locate products and suppliers. Specialized search engines, online ads, presence on the right social channels, and email newsletters all are important considerations. 
  1. What are the benefits of your current media choices? By evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of your media choices, you’ll understand the true value of your marketing program. For example, trade shows help raise your brand’s visibility and generate press and leads. But the number of leads is limited and events can be expensive when you factor in registration, promotion, travel, and other expenses. The moral is: know the ROI of your programs. 
  1. Will you reach your target audience at the right time? Like selling umbrellas when it’s raining or bathing suits when it’s hot, you want to reach your target audience while they are motivated and actively searching.  Develop a calendar for what content you’re pushing out, how, and when. It will be a huge help. 
  1. How will you maintain frequency? If you disappear off your customers’ radar screens for any length of time they will forget about you. So a consistent presence online and off is key to being their choice when they need you. 
  1. How will you measure lead quality? Not all marketing programs deliver quality leads. As any sales person will attest to, the quality of the sales and marketing opportunities generated by your marketing plan is a better indicator of potential sales than the quantity. Look for programs that provide leads in a timely manner with contact information and area of interest, helping set the stage for your response and follow-up. 
  1. How will you ensure brand exposure? The concept of branding is often pushed aside during weak economic times in favor of lead generation, but if you abandon it, you dig a hole for your sales team, forcing them to start from the beginning with every sale, introducing your company and explaining your value proposition. Many programs offer both lead generation and branding. Sponsorship of industry e-newsletters, online banner ads, and reward programs are some ways to build your brand and engage qualified leads. 
  1. How do you measure marketing success? Before you commit to any marketing programs, you should establish metrics to measure performance. Direct and online marketing programs deliver impressions, clicks, leads, sales and customers which make measuring which programs are working easier. Brand programs aren’t so easy to determine. But in all cases, you need to create the valuation method as well as set the performance metrics before you launch.      
  1. What can you expect from your media partners? With every marketing dollar precious, it’s essential that you establish a trusted relationship with media partners who understand your customers and know how to help you reach new ones. They should continuously introduce you to a targeted audience and recommend new channels to market your products as well as provide comprehensive reporting. That reporting should show the number of leads, demographic information, and be delivered as close to real time as possible so you can determine the best channels for the most leads. 
If you’ve got these covered you’re in good shape to put together a viable and productive plan. In getting the best answers, don’t work in a silo. Make sure to involve your company’s key players. The benefits will be not only in a great plan, you’ll gain consensus, and enhance your own business credibility as well. Bet you’ve thought of other concerns. What are they? Share your thoughts here!

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