How To Develop a Marketing Plan or Marketing Strategy

Whether you are marketing strictly on the net, or using other media as well, your marketing plan or strategy will only be as strong as its weakest link.

Here are 15 KEY QUESTIONS you need to answer to develop a basic, effective marketing plan, or improve an existing one.

marketing planBefore you even start, you first need to ask, “What business are we really in?” To paraphrase an old, but important article written by Theodore Levitt for the Harvard Business Review… Decades ago the railroads thought they were in the railroad business. Then along came the airlines which took away a big slice of their business.

If the railroads had known they were in the transporation business, not just the railroad business, they could have jumped on the airline “bandwagon” and developed airline divisions.  Instead, they had “marketing myopia” (nearsightedness), and didn’t see what was coming and the opportunity it represented.

And there are several current, large-scale examples of marketing myopia out there. Without mentioning names, I’ll let you decide what those may be…

One way of looking at the answers to these questions is that they are the “planks” that fit together to form your marketing “platform,” or a base on which to build a good marketing strategy.

To market successfully, you have to do your “homework” and research, otherwise you are just batting at dust motes.

So ask yourself these questions:

1. What business are we really in?

2. What goods or services do we provide?  (Are there others we should be providing?  Or do we need to narrow our focus and concentrate on one or a few key goods or services?)

3. What sales volume do we need to achieve for our business to be truly profitable and viable?

4. What do we know about our main competitors?  (Who are they? How can we find out more about them?)

marketing plan5. Who is our target market?  (How do we define them? What do we know about them? What common characteristics do they share – demographics, psychographics, etc.)

6. Is that target market large enough to support our sales or income objectives?  (Is there enough demand there, or do we need to create that demand which could prove more costly? Is that market expanding, stable, or shrinking? Do we need to develop other markets, too?)

7. What is the main customer- or client-oriented benefit we provide our target market through our goods and services? (What’s in it for them? Why should they come to us and not go elsewhere? See also our blog, “What’s Your Unique Selling Proposition?”)

8. What is the best way(s) of reaching these people with our message?

9. What IS our message? (What do we want to say to them when we do reach them?)

10. How will we know if we DID reach them? (How do we measure this?)

11. What is the easiest or best way(s) for them to contact us?

12. How will we respond when they DO contact us?

13. What exact steps do we have to take to bring prospects who contact us smoothly through the “sales funnel” until they convert into a customer or client? (What’s the sequence?)

14. How will we keep our new customers or clients engaged so that they become repeat customers or even advocates that will spread good word of mouth for our business?

15. Do we have the financial resources and wherewithal to handle all the above? If not, what do we have to do to acquire it?

Whether you are mainly marketing through the internet, or a combination of net, print, commercials or whatever, asking questions like this can help you form your basic marketing platform.  Use these questions to get the wheels turning and the bright ideas popping into view.

Use them to spot omissions or weaknesses in your exisiting marketing platform.

Use them as a simple, but effective guide.

Written by Bob Nelson

Bob is a very experienced Marketing Specialist for both the internet and traditional methods, and a member of the Results Professional Marketing Company team.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to RESULTS PROFESSIONAL MARKETING and a clickable link back to this page.

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