Importance of a Marketing Plan

Success in anything we do in life is never a fluke or luck, it is built on a solid plan and good execution of that plan. As entrepreneurs nothing is more critical to your success then a good plan and in addition to a very thought out over all plan we must have a very strong marketing plan. It does not matter what business you are in, you could be a tax accountant, a lawyer, a gutter cleaner, a painter what ever service or product you want to offer does not pay the bills. What pays the bills is having customers that are interested in paying you to perform that service. If they do not know you exist there is not going to be too many customers beating down your door. You could be the very best at what you do but unless people know that you are available to do what you do they will never know you are the best. The easy route is to think that you are good and word of mouth will spread quickly enough to ensure you always have business to cover your expenses.

While word of mouth is one good way to market it can not be your only way of marketing. If that is your only way of marketing be prepared for long stretches of no business coming your way, and as those stretches get longer the chance for word of mouth to spread becomes less and less. The truth is you need several channels working for you at any given time to bring customers to your door. In order to ensure you have effective channels working for you and that you are always doing some marketing you need to sit down and write a marketing plan.

I know that sitting down and writing a marketing plan is not on the top of your list of fun things to do but it is important and essential to your business. It does not need to be a long, masterful work of art either, it just needs to capture some critical pieces and give you a reference tool when you are searching for new ways to find customers. In reality the mere act of sitting down and writing anything will amaze you at how much it helps. OK so now you are sitting in front of you computer to write your Marketing Plan and the cursor is blinking at you, and blinking at you, and blinking at you and you have no idea where to start. Again it does not need to be a book it just needs to capture some basic info for you to execute on. Here are some guidelines on what should be included, feel free to improvise based on the products/service you are selling as well as your own style. Here is a short list of things you should seriously consider having in your marketing plan:

· What Products and Services do you offer? Do not just think of the big things but maybe some of the smaller ancillary items you offer which may help to set you apart.

· Features and Benefits of your products/service. The key here is to truly associate a benefit to each feature you offer and think in the mind of the customer. What is the benefit to the customer of using your product?

· Target market This one is important as it will determine where you want to market. Even if you offer a product or service that everyone uses really try to think of specific groups or segments that would be most interested. It will help you narrow down where to market.

· Main Competition This is good research to do and know so you understand the market place in which you are trying to compete.

· Sales Channels This is your list of ideas on where you think you should place ads or place your marketing efforts.

There are five easy segments to at least get you started and you will be amazed at how quickly you can think of things in each of these areas that applies to you and your business. Again the mere act of sitting down, thinking about these issues and coming up with ideas will do wonders for your marketing efforts and your business overall. If you are in business for yourself you should have at least 20% of your time each week dedicated to some type of marketing efforts. The first line of business you are in as an entrepreneur is marketing because without customers you do not have a business.