Employees creating a marketing plan using laptops and printed charts

A How-To Guide: Creating a Successful Marketing Plan

You may have heard from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that 20% of micro-businesses don’t succeed in their first two years. Likely, it’s because they lack one thing: a marketing plan. A business owner can have the best-run operation globally and have loyal customers, but they won’t be able to survive and grow without marketing.

Whether it's done solo or with the help of an agency, a marketing plan outlines everything you do, from paying for ads to building social media profiles to hiring an SEO company. Below are a few points that each marketing plan must contain to succeed.

Know your target audience.

The more specific you can be about whom you target, the more successful your marketing plan is. For example, if you sell outdoor gear for cyclists over 50 years old, then finding magazines or websites that cater to this demographic will enable you to get in front of those most likely to buy products from your business.

Know what you stand for.

Define your business and ensure that every piece of content adheres to that definition. It’s okay to have a range of products or services, but don't confuse your customer by going off on too many tangents. If they see something when they visit your website and something completely different on your Facebook page, they’re apt to misunderstand who you are and lose interest.

To stand out from the competition, you need to define how you differentiate your product or service offering, pricing, and promotion. Your difference should give your product or service an edge over your competitors. It will help you create brand recognition and stand out from the crowd.

Solve a need and make it effortless for your customer to do business with you.

Don't try and sell something that people don't desire or need unless it's unique or offers remarkable value in some way. Solving a need of your audience is paramount to success. Still, it would help if you made it effortless for your customer to do business with you. Your clients are bombarded with options everywhere they turn, and this overload can lead to decision paralysis. Suppose your competitor has made it simple to access their product or service, and you haven’t. In that case, you'll lose that potential customer's business.

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Establish trust and value before asking your customer to do business with you.

Too many brands focus on getting first-time customers instead of cultivating their existing clients. But it's easier and more cost-successful to keep an existing customer than to get the latest one. So make sure you're putting your efforts into keeping your clients delighted.

Be wary of following the crowd.

Be distinct, and don't shy away from being the odd one out. It's easy to see what everyone else in your industry is doing and emulate them. Still, you won't stand out if you don't differentiate yourself from the competition. Don't be afraid to be who you are as a brand—it's preferable to trying to be someone else.

Businesses hire a marketing agency to save time and money in difficult times. You may have a vision of what your business could be, but you don't have the staff or expertise to make it happen on your own. Instead, you can outsource work to an agency with the talent and experience necessary to turn your vision into a reality.

But hiring a marketing agency is an investment, so you need to make sure you're getting the most bang for your buck—and that means finding the right agency for the job. The impact of a quality marketing agency has proven to have a substantial effect on business performance.

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You should follow these steps to help you find the right marketing agency for you:

1. Know what you need from a marketing agency and ensure they deliver it.

Don't hire a digital marketing firm if they can't prove experience in SEO or PPC management. If you're looking for content creation or graphic design, ask them for samples of their previous work. See how responsive they are, and ask them questions about what they've delivered for clients in the past.

2. Make sure they understand your business goals.

If a marketing agency cannot explain how its services will improve your business—whether through generating more leads or boosting sales conversions—don't hire them. Here is a list of the top marketing agencies in Portland that may help your business grow and succeed.

Remember, the perfect combination of marketing services is different for everyone; it depends on your audience and what you want to get out of the campaign. The best way to understand this is to know both your business and your industry. Once you are clear on what direction you desire to take your business, you'll be able to find the best combination of marketing services that will lead you there.

Author

Gladys Torzar

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