Updating Your Business Plan? Don’t Forget About Marketing!

Originally published: 01.01.13 by Marsha Friedman


This element often is brushed off, but it is vital to success.

The New Year is a good time to revisit and refresh your business plan. In recent years, the economy, technology, and consumer habits have changed rapidly and dramatically, affecting every aspect of your business. That makes it absolutely vital to re-evaluate your short- and long-term strategies.

One of the most critical elements of any business plan is your marketing strategy. Too often, people don’t think through that all-important component with the same rigor as projected cash flow and long-term goals. Or, they do put thought and effort into planning for market research, promotion, and positioning — and then never follow through on their great ideas.

One problem is that most entrepreneurs don’t have marketing experience. They may be skilled tradesmen, savvy salesmen or possess another outstanding talent, but they’re not marketers. Some don’t realize that executing a solid marketing strategy is essential to any venture’s success; others know it’s important but don’t know where to begin.

Here’s why it’s so important: You may have the product or service that solves a problem for lots of consumers, but if no one knows about it, they can’t come looking for it. Marketing is

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the fundamental building block of any business; it’s what drives the business, so it can’t be an afterthought.

The marketing component of your business plan should include a budget for time (if you’re going to tackle the job yourself) and/or money. You need a timetable and a professional website that attracts visitors and makes it easy for them to learn more about you and your product or service.

Here are some other points to consider as you’re developing your marketing plan:

What is my message? 

Your message needs to be more than “My product is great.” What’s the problem it solves? If you’re a professional, what’s the value you and your service offer? How are you different from your competition? As an example: At EMSI, we create visibility and credibility for our clients using a pay-for-performance model that guarantees media exposure and sets us apart from our peers.

Who is my audience? 

Unless you have a niche product, consider your potential audience in terms of ever-expanding ripples. For instance, a collapsible coffeepot may be just the thing for a college student’s tiny dorm room. That’s your initial target audience. But his parents and grandparents, who are helping outfit that dorm room, might also be audiences. If they’ve downsized their living quarters, they might just want one for themselves, too. In fact, it could be great for campers, boaters — anyone living in a small space.

Which are the appropriate media outlets for a PR campaign? 

Social media is great for niche products because online forums build communities around common interests. Daytime TV talk shows tend to have audiences with lots of women. Most newspaper readers are now 55 or older. Once you have decided who your audience is, figure out what they’re watching, listening to, reading, and doing online, then customize your message for that medium and audience.

What’s your budget? 

When you’ve answered these questions, you should be able to determine how much marketing you can do yourself (if you’ll be doing any at all) and how much you’ll need help with. If you’re handling it yourself, budget for the time it will take to do things like keeping your website active with fresh blog posts once or twice a week; posting content on social media; developing pitches to get print, radio or T.V. interested. If you plan to pay a professional for marketing services, use your marketing plan to explore the costs and timetable, and budget accordingly.

Whether you’re launching a dream or strengthening your existing business, you need to lay a good foundation with a solid plan. If marketing isn’t an important component of that plan, your rocket to the moon will likely fizzle and fade. ν

Marsha Friedman is a 22-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations www.emsincorporated.com, a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms. Marsha is the author of Celebritize Yourself: The 3-Step Method to Increase Your Visibility and Explode Your Business and she can also be heard weekly on her Blog Talk Radio Show, EMSI’s PR Insider every Thursday at 3 p.m. EST.

 

 


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