You need a marketing plan even if you’re an entrepreneur, small business, or just a lowly author with your first book. Why? Marketing is the lifeblood of your business. Marketing drives leads; leads drive sales; sales bring in money.
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The purpose of marketing is to sift and sort, to find the people to sell your products and/or services to, and to find your gold—your ideal clients. Your marketing will serve more than one purpose, not only drawing the right people to you, but also preparing those people to work with you.
Having a marketing plan gives you direction and will help keep you from chasing (and wasting money on) shiny objects. Many entrepreneurs and small business people try any number of marketing avenues without giving enough thought to whether or not that particular strategy that works so well for one business will work well for them.
A marketing plan helps you identify your target market, refine your message and offer, and then put that message in front of your people in a way that allows you to track and measure results. While you may change out strategies and tactics to improve results if necessary, you will do so based on quantitative data, not because you happened to see something else that looked like a good idea, i.e., a shiny object.
The problem, when a small or micro-business person goes to create a marketing plan, is that they are hit in the face with information that is targeted to larger corporations and MBA-level strategists. The techniques and strategies (never mind the budgets!) that are de rigueur for big corporations don’t scale down for the entrepreneur. You are told you need to brand and buy ads and have a podcast and do TikTok and/or YouTube videos, etc. That’s great when you’re a large corporation with too much money. If something doesn’t work, you just try the next thing.
Small business people and entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of “throwing money” at their marketing. They need to use their dollars wisely and, in most cases, see results as quickly as possible. Branding ads (think artistic, black and white ads with gorgeous, young models standing around looking sulky in Calvin Klein underwear) are not in the budget. Branding can definitely be part of your marketing, but it is a component of the ad itself, not the end result you are looking for at this point in your business. Learning how to create videos that will catch the right person’s eye might involve a lengthy learning curve—time you may not have.
Finding and focusing on strategies that work for your specific business is key to your business success. In my book, The 8 Step Marketing Plan, I lay out a simple process for finding your ideal prospects, creating an offer that will appeal to them, and then making that offer through the channels most likely to reach them. Simple. Direct. Practical. Build out your marketing plan now using real-world strategies that work for you.