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Developing a Marketing Plan 

If you think of some of the biggest events and successes in your life, you’ll realize few were spontaneous or purely due to luck. Your wedding, buying your first house, paying down debt, starting a business – they all began with a plan. Plans are what help you decide on a goal, determine how to get there and know when you’re making progress (or not). Ditto for your marketing plan.

The Details

Assuming you have a small business (vs. a huge corporation), your plan should cover one year. Plan to write several pages, maybe up to six or eight, depending on your business. You’ll need input and feedback from everyone involved in your business: your accountant, your employees, your partner(s), your marketing person, etc. Make sure your marketing plan is cohesive with your business plan and/or vision statement. Plan to review it every month and take notes on how reality is matching up with your marketing plan.

The Components

Everyone you ask will give you a different version of what to include in your marketing plan, but here are some basics that most experts advise:

1.      List and describe your products and services.

2.      Explain your geographic coverage.

3.      Who is your target market? (e.g. income level, gender, age)

4.      Who is your target persona? (This is a more detailed description of your “ideal” customer – a character sketch of sorts. A target persona for a bicycle store might be someone who is comfortable with technology, recycles, knows famous names in the cycling industry, plays hard on the weekends, hangs out on social media, etc.)

5.      What is your positioning statement in 40 words or fewer? (i.e. One or two sentences that tells your type of business, what you offer, who you target, why you’re different than your competition and what value you provide)

6.      What are your supporting statements to back up your positioning statement?

7.      What are you experts in?

8.      Who is your competition?

9.      How are you different than your competition?

10.  How do you market, sell and distribute your goods/services?

11.  What positive and negative changes in your industry do you foresee?

12.  Will your target market or persona be changing?

13.  What is not working in your business right now?

14.  What upgrades/changes will you need within the next year to be successful?

15.  What opportunities should we be seizing? What are our roadblocks?

16.  What are your big and small goals for the next 12 months? (e.g. hire more employees, open another location, add new product/service, expand territory, raise/lower prices, buy a building)

17.  How can you reach these goals?

18.  How will you measure success?

The Breakdown

Let’s say one of your larger goals is to double your profits within one year. Your sub-goals might include:

• Cut expenses

• Get more work from existing clients

• Get new clients

• Increase prices/rates

• Drop clients who are too high-maintenance

• Start collections on clients who haven’t paid

Under each of these sub-goals, you’ll detail your plan of attack. For example, to cut expenses you could put:

• Lease a smaller space

• Downsize the staff

• Start doing our own collections rather than outsourcing

• Work from home

• Clean our offices ourselves

Sample Marketing Plans

Here are some samples of marketing plans:

• http://www.morebusiness.com/templates_worksheets/bplans/printpre.brc

• http://www.slideshare.net/leerendlem/sample-marketing-plan

• http://inventors.about.com/library/bl/toc/blmarket.htm

If you’d like help creating your marketing plan or other segments of your business, we can help! Contact Kristie Melendez at (970)686-5805 or via k.melendez@easychairmedia.com.

We know not everyone is a marketing guru, so first things first: when we talk about mobile marketing, we’re generally referring to technology like smartphones, iPads and tablets (mobile) and QR codesSMS text messagescoupons and Web searches (marketing).

Now on to the good stuff! Whether you’re just now hearing about mobile marketing or have been dipping your toe into the water, we think you’ll get an edge with these little-known tips.

  1. FACT: Most mobile users don’t drag along full-size keyboards (although devices like the iPad do have some pretty nice, thin Bluetooth keyboards!) so they tend to make more typos then desktop users.

TIP: Use this information to your advantage and include common misspellings in your SEO efforts. Mobify CEO Igor Faletski suggests turning off auto-correct spell checker on your own mobile device, typing each of your top 10 keyword phrases 10 times each, then look for the misspellings.

  1. FACT: According to V3im.com, mobile users will abandon a website after three seconds of wait time, and a one-second delay in load time can lead to 11 percent fewer page views.

TIP: Make your mobile site usable, fast and as simple as possible to get the job done. Visitors don’t want to have to zoom in on everything, they want to be able to navigate easily and they don’t want to wait around while tons of graphics load.

  1. FACT: Lots of mobile users opt to turn their images off to avoid anything unworthy that can quickly eat up their data plan.

TIP: Don’t fill your email with graphics. Viewers may see a hole or worse – may have to scroll down to get to your message (which some won’t bother to do.)

  1. FACT: According to Googleone in three mobile searches have local intent.

TIP: Localize your content whenever possible – and make sure it’s optimized for mobile visitors.

  1. FACT: Mobile users are more likely to act immediately (within 24 hours) after doing a search on their mobile device. That’s partly because unlike desktop users, they can be online and in a store at the same time. They’re searches are also more specific. In fact, Microsoft’s stats say that 70 percent of search tasks on PCs are completed in about a week, while 70 percent of search tasks on mobile devices are completed in about ONE HOUR!

TIP: Make it easy for mobile users to call you simply by clicking on a link, or to buy by clicking on a link (then a speedy check out rather than a full registration). Visitors who can opt to avoid a lengthy registration may be more likely to buy if they don’t feel they’ll be bogged down filling out forms on a tiny phone screen and creating a user name and password they’ll need to write down.

Incorporate these tips into your mobile marketing campaigns, or call us or email us to see how affordable it is to have us do it for you!

Most small business owners know that there are ways to use a blog for business, they just don’t know how to put one to use for THEIR business. It’s common for entrepreneurs, for example, to think along the lines of, “Well, it makes sense for a huge accounting firm that has a marketing department, because they have plenty of changing regulations and laws to write about – and the means to assign someone to do it. But I’m just a small … (fill in the blank: retail store, Realtor, ecommerce business).”

The truth of the matter is that almost every business can benefit from having a blog, and you don’t need to have an entire marketing department to create a good one. All you need is a plan!

If you’re one of those people who enjoys acronyms and easy-to-remember mnemonics, here are the three things to focus on for your blog’s editorial plan:

• Content (what you’ll write about, keywords to use, voice, length)

• Customers (who you’ll be writing for/distributing to)

• Calendar (how to develop consistency and unique topics)

Here are some specific steps to build your editorial calendar:

  1. Choose a spreadsheet program and create eight columns (the last 4 can be narrow columns since they’ll just be used to check things off).
  2. Label each column as follows:

• Column 1 = DATE

• Column 2 = TOPIC

• Column 3 = TARGET PERSONA

• Column 4 = KEYWORDS

• Column 5 = NEWSLETTER

• Column 6 = FACEBOOK

• Column 7 = TWITTER

• Column 8 = LINKEDIN

  1. Under the DATE column, fill in the dates you’ll post a blog. This should be realistic (perhaps twice a week to start) and consistent (say, Tuesdays and Thursdays).
  2. Under the TOPIC, choose a very specific, narrowed down subject that will give your readers at least a tidbit of advice. Think “lowest common denominator” here. In other words, if you’re a Realtor in Evergreen, Colorado, you could write about a specific neighborhood’s attributes (school district, mature trees, low taxes, low crime, etc.) So your topic might be: “10 Attributes of Evergreen Highlands.”
  3. Under the TARGET PERSONA, you’re going to list several specific readers you’d like to attract. In other words, who are you writing this for? In this case, since Evergreen Highlands offers a minimum of two acres (some zones for horses) and access to tennis courts, a pond and a barn, you might break “potential homebuyers” down to specifics like: “homebuyers with horses” and “retirees with incomes over $150,000 annually” and “wealthy homebuyers who play tennis and/or swim” or “wealthy homebuyers who enjoy seclusion.”
  4. Under keywords, you’ll want to think of search words and terms that your ideal reader might use: “Evergreen mountain property,” “Evergreen ranches for sale,” or “Colorado mountain property for sale” or even “Evergreen gated community.” (Remember, it doesn’t matter if Evergreen Highlands is a gated community; you’re putting yourself in the potential customer’s shoes for SEARCH TERMS.)
  5. The last four columns are for distribution purposes. After all, you need to let people know your blog post is up! You can add other forms of social media, of course, but Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are probably the most vital platforms to get your link out to the public. If you don’t have a newsletter, there’s no better time than the present to start gathering opt-ins! Be sure to include that option at the end of every blog post.

 

Remember, blogs aren’t about selling. They’re about providing useful information to position yourself as an expert. Keep your posts specific so you don’t run out of topics, include your keywords and search terms throughout, post consistently and don’t be afraid to see what your competition is doing, or better yet … not doing!

If you’re doing multi-platform marketing you should also be doing cross-platform marketing (a.k.a. cross-channel marketing). Chances are you’re already doing it to some extent. Do you put “Follow us on Facebook” in your print ads? Does your mobile website offer a direct link to follow you on Twitter? Does the QR code in your mailer take people to your fan page?

There are countless ways to link – and sync – traditional marketing (think TV, radio and print ads, flyers, newsletters, etc.) with social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, podcasts, YouTube, social bookmarking, Foursquare, email). Here are 20 simple but effective ideas:

  1. Include a QR code in your restroom door ad. (Smartphone users can scan it – even through the plexiglasscover.)
  2. Post your Facebook or Twitter address in your store window.
  3. Make it easy for customers to request your catalog, brochure or free samples via your Facebook fan page.
  4. Add a testimonial from a review site to your print media. (e.g. “Mike’s Plumbing was affordable and on time.” – Yelp.com user
  5. Offer printable coupons for people who “like” your Facebook page or write a review about your company.
  6. Use your social media sites to promoting your offline marketing efforts. (e.g. “Check this Sunday’s paper for a special discount.”
  7. Promote your social media sites – with clickable links – in your e-newsletters. Promote your social media sites – with spelled out sites (www.Facebook.com/EasyChairMedia) – in print newsletters.
  8. Post photos and videos from store events on your blog, website, YouTube, etc.
  9. Mention your mobile app, blog, Facebook site, etc. on radio and TV appearances or commercials.
  10. Get opt-ins for texts, emails and/or e-newsletters at business expos, job fairs and other events.
  11. Include a QR code on all receipts that takes customers directly to a forum, review site or your Foursquare site.
  12. Create a special for loyal customers to use in your store and promote it on Foursquare.
  13. Create a contest for fans to videotape themselves using your product or service. Have them post it on YouTube then promote it using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
  14. Mention your social media efforts in presentations, classes and promotional videos.
  15. Promote your social media sites on signs, banners and billboards.
  16. Use podcasts to complement offline marketing efforts. For example, a Realtor that uses recorded information (e.g. a for sale sign that instructs potential homebuyers to tune in to AM 1340 for more information) may also want to reference podcasts that provide more information on the home or buying and selling in general.
  17. Promote virtual tours in traditional media. For example, a travel company may want to videotape a virtual tour of a tropical locale.
  18. Create opportunities in your brick-and-mortar store for customers to share deals and promotions with friends. For example, a customer can scan a QR code on a coat’s tag using her smartphone, then easily share a photo and price with a friend (via email or Facebook).
  19. Create photos of your inventory and post them on Pinterest.
  20. Join online forums to answer questions relating to your products, service or industry with a signature line that includes your website and phone number. For example, a wine expert may answer questions to position himself as an expert, then include contact information for his winery for those who wish to follow up or order wine.

How do YOU sync social media and traditional marketing? Share your tips here.