Create a marketing plan for your start up business

When you start up your business, it is likely that marketing will play a key role in its success or failure. It is also likely that marketing is going to be another hat you try and wear along with accounts, client services; sales……….the list is endless.

It is therefore essential that you have some sort of plan with a loose budget so you what you should be doing; if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. You must consider elements like the potential market size, the competition, your pricing, where your prospects are, their buying habits etc.

You also need to try and outline what the ultimate goal of your marketing is – geographically, profits & margins, client size or even whether you are seeking an exit strategy.

The plan shouldn’t be just about the volume you want, but whether the brand and reach you are creating is achievable. Knowing these elements will dramatically help you construct your plan.
It is unlikely that, as a start up, you have a blank cheque to spend so getting value for any spend is vital. So, break your budget up into small chunks and identify the marketing needed to get you to each point on your journey.

So……do your research. Knowing exactly who your best customers are will enable you nail your marketing. You’ll also waste a lot less and convert a lot more suspects to prospects using targeted campaigns and the right messaging.

Then make sure you have conducted some thorough competitive analysis. Who are your competitors? How much do they charge? What is their customer service like? What are they doing well? Are they dropping the ball in key areas you can do better on?

This will enable you to craft an effective positioning statement, USP and brand.
After identifying your best prospective customers and the right branding, you will be able to better select the best fitting marketing and advertising channels.

We advocate creating a marketing tool kit containing all elements you might need – a website, SEO work, social media, business stationery etc. However, these elements will be a little different for every start up. Your kit may also include TV advertising, outdoor display advertising, print ads, email, popup shops or live events.

All of this requires budgeting and time. Even if you aren’t doing Google PPC ads, Facebook or other paid campaigns, marketing requires a budget and this budget should be viewed as an investment in the business.

You can never afford to stop marketing. When you stop marketing, you stop having a business. If the big brands like Coke and Apple are still doing it with all of their billions and high market positions, then you had better believe it!

But who is going to devise and implement all this marketing activity? You may be a genius at what you do and believe you have a creative eye, but no matter how good you are, there are many platforms and factors to master in marketing so do not shut the door on getting expert help from a reputable marketing organisation.

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What is a marketing audit?

Whatever the market your business operates in, it is safe to say that it is likely to be highly unpredictable and competitive and, as such, business owners cannot leave any stone un-turned in their search for growth and development.

One element often overlooked due to time or budget constraints is a full marketing audit.
By pressing pause and taking a serious look at your position in terms of the offer, the target audience, the current route to market and the actual brand. An audit can be a vital instrument to help an organisation establish its position and to identify its possible “difference” in the market as well as what resources and capacities it has as its disposal.

Conducting a marketing audit is one of the best and most sensible investments a business can make for the future.

But, what exactly is a marketing audit?
The Marketing Audit refers to the comprehensive, systematic, analysis, evaluation and the interpretation of the business marketing environment, both internal and external, its goals, objectives, strategies, principles to ascertain the areas of problem and opportunities and to recommend a plan of action to enhance the firm’s marketing performance.

The outlined definition clearly confirms the strategic and operational relevance of conducting a marketing audit, making it an instrument where businesses can dissect, analyse and assess their situation.

About the audit process
Carrying out a marketing audit can be quite time consuming and is often hard to do without bias if done internally, but it should be done by externally based skilled, experienced, and specialised marketing professionals.

Asking the correct type of questions is key to conducting a successful marketing audit. Proper R&D and the right questions unlock a business’s creative instinct and serve to stimulate the thought processes. For example, what time are we dedicating to social media and what has been the ROI?
The marketing audit also provides the business with a clear picture of its marketing function and business environment. It will help him / her to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the business.

I believe that the marketing audit process should encourage “out-of-the-box” thinking, since competitive advantage rarely comes from doing the same thing over and over. When businesses offer the same product and service to the same market by performing the same kind of marketing, no business will grow in the long run. In fact, it is likely that others will have conducted an audit and will be reaping the benefits, possibly from your pocket.