One of the first steps in creating your marketing plan is figuring out how to set your marketing goals. When I work with my author clients, I ask two opening questions: What do you want your book to do for the reader and what do you want your book to do for you?
What do you want your marketing to do for you?
As you will see, it’s not a trick question. Of course, you want your marketing to bring in clients. But what kind of clients? For which service or product? How many clients do you want or need each month? How soon do you need them? You must have clearly defined goals for your business in order to create a solid marketing plan.
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Start with What You Offer
Do you offer products or services or both? Are you online, offline, or both? What are your revenue goals? How much do you charge or how many widgets do you need to sell in order to reach your goals?
Where am I taking this? One of the steps in creating your marketing plan is defining your ideal client and your target market. To do that, you need to have a very clear definition of your business, what you offer, where your business is financially, and how it stacks up to the competition. You may have already done some of that work and you have probably found places where you need to have better data. Knowing what you don’t know is a big step forward.
Get a piece of paper (or open a new document) and list out each package or plan that you offer, along with their prices. If you have the data, put the percentage of revenue that each product or package accounts for in your business on a yearly basis.
I recommend that you work on one offer (product or service) at a time. If you offer a wide variety of products, you might want to list out product lines or develop categories to help you focus in on what you want to improve. For instance, if you run a florist shop, you may specialize in weddings or funerals, you may have a segment of your business that does high-end arrangements for catered events, or you might want to start a monthly subscription program. You don’t want to count every orchid and daisy that goes out of your shop. Your goal might be to add one new event client each month for the next six months or bring in two more weddings a quarter.
How Big is Your Business?
To be more precise, how big is your business in terms of employees, number of clients, revenue, products or services offered?
I have my marketing clients fill out an extensive questionnaire that gives us a good grasp of those baseline numbers as well as an inventory of marketing assets, including your skills. The next question is how big do you want your business to be? The idea is to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Of course, one marketing campaign is not going to change your business overnight. But in order to get the ball rolling, you need to know where your business stands right now as well as have a specific goal that you are aiming for so that your marketing campaign is in alignment with your overall business goals. You may not have thought about how big you want your business to be. That’s fine. Just keep the idea in the back of your mind. You may surprise yourself.
How Much Extra Business Can You Handle?
If you have a runaway successful marketing campaign, and you can’t fulfill the orders, you’re going to be in trouble. We hate that. Too much business at once can be as bad as not enough business. Big is not always the goal. Sometimes you want slow, steady growth, so you can scale up without hitting a crunch. Some people are looking for a lifestyle business, where free time or being geographically mobile is more important than money. Some people have boutique businesses, a purposefully small number of clients who pay premium prices. Some people may not want to manage employees. Others may want to build a major corporation with hundreds of employees.
The great thing about owning your own business is that you get to decide what kind of business you want and how much business you want. While most business owners struggle to get “enough” business, there is also the balance between a comfortable, steady volume of clients and taking on too much work.
Quantify Your Goals
Once you have defined your goals, you need to quantify each one—assign a hard number. Suggested goals might be:
- X amount of dollars in additional revenue per month (or per quarter or year).
- X number of new clients per month.
- X number of units—either a product or service—sold in the next 30, 60, or 90 days.
- Add X number of prospects to a mailing list for future sales.
What if your goal is a bit hard to quantify, for example, “Break into a new market”? The way you quantify that could be decided by how you define “breaking into.” It could be geographical, product-related, or client/income based.
If you currently work with dental practices and want to break into the physical therapist market, your quantitative goal may be:
- Add 5 physical therapy practices to my client list in 60 days.
- Bring in $2,500 per month from physical therapy practices within 4 months.
- Add 2 physical therapy practices from each of the three surrounding counties adjacent to mine each month.
You can set any goal you want as long as you are able to quantify—put a numerical value to—it so you can track your progress. Adding 160 people to your mailing list each month is very specific as opposed to just “build my email list.”
You might have a goal of building your brand. The value of brand, while it is being built, is by its very nature, difficult to quantify. What will building your brand do for you? How will you know it is working? If you want “more people” to recognize your brand, how many more people would make you feel like you’re making progress? Where are these people located? Are these people who now recognize your brand potential clients or just random people who may never buy from you?
Last, evaluate your goals and ask if accomplishing them moves you forward in your overall business goal. This will help you decide which product or service will be the beneficiary of your first marketing plan. Base that choice on factors that make sense for you.
How you set your marketing goals is every bit as important as the actual goal. You want to set marketing goals that build your business the way you want it built. Your marketing goals should be achievable with your current assets (money, time, skills), as well as be a coherent part of your overall business goals.
My book, The 8 Step Marketing Plan helps you set marketing goals that fit your business to bring you the best results.