Marketing plan for business

How to Form a Successful Marketing Plan

Marketing plan for business

How to form a successful marketing plan

A good marketing plan is the pillar of any business marketing strategy.

It provides an honest view of the strengths and failings of your business, and ensures you consider the market as a whole; what your competitors are providing, and what customers really want.

It should outline all of the tools and tactics that you will use to achieve your sales goals, and act as a continual point of reference as to what it is that you are going to be selling, who will want to buy it and the strategies that you will use to achieve those all-important sales.

This article will show you how to write a thorough marketing plan including:

  • Situational analysis
  • Competitor analysis
  • Marketing goals
  • Marketing budget

 

Situational analysis

Before you start considering the future of your business, you have to look at its current position. A situational analysis enables you to investigate your firm’s position from new angles.

Simple questions, such as ‘what is your product?’, ‘what position in the market does your product occupy?’ and ‘what are your sourcing choices/options?’ force you to analyse in detail how your company is run, and whether you feel it is streamlined or not.

The SWOT analysis considers your business’ Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats; it is only by assessing the internal factors (strengths and weaknesses), that the external factors (opportunities and threats) can be considered.

SWOT can be used to make informed decisions, and as Linda Pophal, owner and CEO of Strategic Communications says, this is actually ‘…the area of strategy development where organizations have an opportunity to be most creative and where innovative ideas can emerge, but only if the analysis has been appropriately prepared in the first place.’

 

Competitor analysis

Competitor analysis inherent to situational analysis, but to really understand your market and prepare for changes, you need to understand your competitors. This can be achieved through a ‘competitor array’, an example of which can be seen below:

Key Industry Success FactorsWeightingCompetitor #1 ratingCompetitor #1 weightedCompetitor #2 ratingCompetitor #2 weighted
Totals1.0204.9153.7
Extensive distribution0.462.431.2
Customer focus0.341.251.5
Economies of scale0.230.630.6
Product innovation0.170.740.4

 

A competitor array allows you to consider the factors most important in your industry, and then lets you rank your competitors based on these factors, showing you their strengths and weaknesses. A such you can perceive gaps in the market.

To predict the future strategies of your competitors, you may have to extend your analysis into what their strategies are and have been; try contacting suppliers, or former business partners of that company, but make sure that all information is obtained legally.

 

Marketing goals

Companies often set the bar too high or too low; a good situational analysis will help you pitch achievable goals. The key is not to overburden yourself; obviously you want to see growth in your company, but too many goals in your strategy, will spread your skills too thinly and dilute your strengths.

Shanelle Mullin, Director of Marketing at Onboardly suggests to ‘…choose 1-2 core goals that impact the bottom line and 3-5 supporting goals’. Your marketing plan should be for the whole year ahead, so break down these goals into daily or weekly targets. This will ensure the people working for your business feel a sense of achievement, and morale will stay high.

 

Marketing budget

To set a marketing budget, look at your company’s revenue, and be realistic about what money you have to spend. Issues to be taken into consideration include:

  • How quickly you want to grow, and by how much
  • Turnover and outgoings
  • Whether you are introducing something new to the market, or marketing existing products
  • How much your competitors are spending on the market.

While each business has its own budget priorities, market research suggests that firms should spend about 5-10% of their turnover on marketing (and this percentage should be higher on companies with a lower turnover).

As outlined by co-founder and VP of marketing at E2M, Pratik Dholakiva, measuring the effectiveness of your marketing campaign can be tricky, especially when trying to glean ROI from something as apparently ethereal as social media. Ultimately, all your strategies need to boil down to real numbers, especially where leads, profits and sales are concerned.

Among other key steps to take, Mr Dholakiva says it is important to keep ROI analysis simple regarding money in and going out so that you can place a financial cost of putting a new strategy in place. It sounds a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get bogged down in details and far more important to stay focused on the bigger picture.

Be sure to define your strategy and understand what you’re trying to do. Isolate the differences compared with previous campaigns, and work to improve those former strategies.

Furthermore, many marketing strategists fail to analyse to the right depth. While marketers may not have access to all company data to be able to account for a seemingly inexplicable peak in web traffic, an effort should be made to access all information available that could be used to glean insight. Consider what other factors are influencing revenue and traffic and integrate these into your model.

It is important to consider ways in which you can easily cut costs. Social media is an amazing way to market your business and is in many cases completely free; having a hands-on approach to social media will also allow you to keep your business relationships strong.

 

Using social media correctly

Coke is an FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) company, paving the way for social media innovation, their multi-faceted approach to guiding consumers back to brand is both inspirational and informative to any marketer.

Who can forget Coke’s ‘name-on-a-bottle’ campaign, which encouraged us to #shareacoke? Feeling in need of a friendship top-up, we dutifully searched for our names on our favorite soft drink bottles and Coke sales increased by 2.75% in the UK alone. The drive was recognised by the 2013 Cannes Lions as “the most successful campaign in decades.”

Creating a detailed but focused marketing plan for your company is hard work, and takes time. However, with one in place, you will be able to make smart, informed decisions and concentrate on the growth of your business.


Choosing a name for your business

How to choose a business name

Choosing a name for your business

How to choose a business name

One of the best things about starting your own business is being able to choose a name for yourself. But it’s not as straightforward as you might think. It’s something you have to get right, not just for legal reasons but for creating the right impression.

This article will show you how to choose the right name and what you’ll have to do to ensure you’re following the official rules, that’s whether you’re becoming a sole trader or limited company…

Giving the right impression

When choosing a company name, keep in mind that it will act as a first impression of your business. You want your name to convey the right feeling and message. That’s whether you’re trying to get across professionalism or something fun and different. It should also work across all mediums including your website, marketing and signage.

Consider pronunciation and spelling

Just consider how many times you’ll have to give your details out over the phone! Now think about your potential business name. Is it easy to pronounce? Will people understand what you’re saying? And is it easy to spell? Try to pick something that’s easy to say and write.

Reflect what you do

If appropriate, consider a name that reflects what you do. This will get across very quickly what your business is about to potential customers. It might also help in terms of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) where you can benefit from having a keyword or two in your name. But only do this if your business isn’t likely to change and offer different services in future.

Think about the future

Always keep the future in mind when choosing a name for your business. Are you likely to expand? Will you be providing additional services in future? Choose a name that can easily see you through the next 10 years. Don’t pick something that’s going to narrow your growth. You also have to choose something that won’t date easily, so avoid words and phrases that could easily go out of fashion.

Trading and corporate names

Did you know you can choose an official ‘corporate name’ but you can choose a ‘trading name’ to represent that corporate name? This means you can choose something quite corporate for your actual official name but create a trading name that’s creative, or shorter and sweeter. You just have to make sure you highlight your trading name/corporate name on all marketing materials, including your website.

Consider potential overseas hurdles

Are you going to be trading overseas? If so, check that your business name doesn’t mean anything offensive in any other language. You don’t want to limit yourself before you’ve even started, so double check meanings in other languages.

Check availability

So you’ve got a few ideas knocking around – the next important step is checking availability of your name ideas. Go on to the Companies House Web Checker to see if anyone else has already beaten you to it. And if you’re home-free, go on something like  1&1 Ionos to check that relevant domain names are also up for grabs. When purchasing domain names, it’s wise to buy something that not only has the ‘co.uk’ available but the ‘.com’ as well.

Names for sole traders

If you choose to become a sole trader, you’re allowed to operate your business under your own name but you can choose anything you like. However, there are some legal aspects to remember:

  • Your business name must not be offensive;
  • include any of the terms for public limited company (PLC) or limited (LTD) or LLP or their Welsh equivalents
  • or contain any sensitive words or expressions (i.e. there are certain words/expressions you’re not allowed to use unless you have official permission, for example ‘British’ and ‘Authority’).

Next, check that no one else is using your proposed business name. Bear in mind, that if a sole trader at the other end of the UK has the same name, there might not be an issue. But you could run into trouble if another local firm is using it. In which case, you should choose a different name. How do you check to see if someone’s already got your name? Look through phone books, use Google or simply use the most excellent Companies House Web Checker.

Things to consider for limited companies

If you’re forming a limited company you must register your name and any other relevant details with Companies House. Bear in mind, it’s essential your proposed name does not breach any rules on name endings, ‘same as’ rules or include a prescribed or sensitive work without prior permission. Here’s the rules so you don’t get stuck. You must ensure that:

  • Your name ends with ‘limited’ or Ltd
  • Your name isn’t offensive
  • Your name isn’t the same as anyone else in the index of company names (which you can check via the Companies House website)
  • Your name doesn’t include anything sensitive in terms of words or expressions… unless you’ve had official permission to use them.

Double check trademarks

Another important point is trademarks. You have to make sure your proposed business name isn’t the same or very similar to a registered trademark. Use this handy Company Name and Trademark Checker.

Displaying your business name

Did you know that every business must display its name and relevant details to show customers who they’re dealing with? If you’re a limited company, you have to display your registered name on all hard copy and digital correspondence and documents. This includes: letters, notices, emails, bills of exchange, invoices and even your website.

But what information must a limited company display? You must show:

  • the place of registration and your registered business address
  • the registered business number
  • whether it’s a limited company.

Please note, you’ll also have to display your VAT registration number on your business website.

For sole traders, you must display your business name, your own name and your business address in all areas, i.e. across all stationery, correspondence and your own website.

And that’s how you choose a business name. You’ll need to do this before anything else because if you’re opening a business account, they’ll want to see a letterhead with your business name and logo printed on it. Plus if you’re informing the Inland Revenue of your new business, they’ll need to know as well.


Marketing Advice

Marketing Tips and Tricks

Marketing Advice

Marketing Tips and Tricks

1. Leave clear actions

You don’t need to speak in generalities. The goal is to increase sales and improve your marketing strategies. It is important to let people know about clear actions they should do before taking the buying decision. Using a right call-to-action can guide clients to perform a target task and build certain promises. Make sure that promises provide with more effective efforts and keep your business inside the sales organization. To get readers’ attention, actionable verbs and phrases sound stronger than others and make readers to take an action.

Clarity for calls to action is very crucial. People should clearly understand what they should do and how it will be useful for them. Use simple language and avoid confusing works for writing a call to action. Adding the sense of urgency and time limitation will reinforce your calls to action and build a feeling of importance.

 

2. Offer sales and discounts

Discounts and multiple sales can be a significant way to drive sales and convert buyers into qualified leads. There are lots of different ways to offer sales and discounts, many companies offer at the end of a month to boost revenues.

Amazon has special product categories under the name “Hot Deals”, “Coupon Deals” and “Upcoming Lightning Deals” that can generate a large amount of traffic. This approach guarantees better exposure of your products on the page, allows users view all offers and deals at once and encourages them to buy products at half price.

To get more sales and promote your deals to customers, you can focus on building an extensive email list to deliver your discounts and offers on time. You will get the chance to increase conversions and market your products in the future.

If you are going to constantly use discounts and sales, you won’t reach business goals. Every online business should keep in mind a clear goal about your brand and some experiments to build customer loyalty and boost revenues.

 

3. Provide something free

As you know people love free things. If you have inexpensive products of cheap quality and you are sure that they are not worth good money, you can offer this item as a bonus freebie. Selling expensive and luxury goods, there is a sense to offer a free shipping because of a higher quality and the desire to pay more for this item.

It may seem kind of weird, but when people view something free or discounted, even of a low quality, people still want to get this item because it costs them nothing. Over time people get confused about the quality and they decide to look for other items to find value. For example, if people buy a luxury car, they think like the “free” GPS of high quality as well. But they are mistaken in believing.

 

4. Use social media

Good design, a wide range of items, web navigation, all these things are great. But without interesting stories, videos and images you can’t reach a significant effect. Focus on quality over volume and find right social media channels to share your content with customers.

You also need to be involved while promoting your content in social media. Your goal is share something useful and interesting with your followers to increase your sales. Find a few minutes to learn and understand your audience, what they are interested in and who consumes your content.

 

5. Use the power of customer reviews

Everyone knows how important is use the power of customer reviews. Based on the SEL research, 88% of clients trust online reviews and personal recommendations. If you know people who have already enjoyed your services or product, you can kindly ask them to get reviews from them.

You’ve noticed that most buyers on Amazon and eBay like to leave feedbacks about their purchases. It is good practice to focus on the importance of seller performance. No matter customers provide positive, negative or neutral comments, you can increase your brand credibility and rank your products in the top positions.

Some companies like Sleep Junkie create a list of reviews where they compare different brands and put their own product into perspective. This is a specifically good tactic when you launch a new product.

Client reviews help you boost your traffic and visibility. Make sure that services and products with ratings can sell up to 200% products than products without any ratings.  Focus on the optimization of your purchase tunnel that will generate more sales on your website.

Publishing customer reviews can give you detailed insight what makes your clients satisfied and what makes them upset. It will give you an option to find possible solutions to their problems and provide excellent customer service.

6. Match your fees to your promises

There is a common mistake, which loses small and medium sized businesses a fortune. It’s simply this:

Their marketing promises a high quality service, BUT they charge a bargain-basement fee. By doing this, they send a mixed message to prospective clients, which loses theme businesses.

Everyone knows that quality never comes cheap. We have been trained from childhood to believe that if something looks too good to be true, it is too good to be true. Promising people a high quality service for a low fee, creates doubt. That’s the last thing you want to happen in the mind of your prospective clients.

Make your services as valuable to the marketplace as possible and then charge accordingly. If you do, your prices will match your promises and you will have made it easier for future clients to trust your marketing message.

 

7. Focus on dissatisfied prospective customers

A common mistake made by small business owners, is that they fail to focus their marketing correctly. As a direct result, they get too few sales leads or client enquiries.

The most effective way to increase sales is to focus on people, who are dissatisfied with their current provider. When someone isn’t happy with their current provider, they’re actively interested in switching to a new provider. They are highly motivated buyers; the exact people you should be targeting with your marketing!

Despite the massive value of dissatisfied prospective clients, most small business owners market their services to less targeted groups. They waste their time and money marketing to people, who are happy with their current provider or who have no need or interest in the kind of product they sell. They go for volume over value… quantity over quality. This makes things unnecessarily difficult. It also produces anaemic results.

 

8. Form a strategy and plan, plan, plan!

It’s easy to just jog along making a few sales here and there, having some good times and then some not so good times.

A marketing strategy tells you what to say, how to say it and who to say it to in order to make more sales. Our guide to the basics.

Every time you speak to someone about your business you are involved in marketing. Any conversation about your firm is an opportunity to promote your business and increase sales.

A marketing strategy will help you focus. It will identify the different ways you can talk to your customers, and concentrate on the ones that will create most sales.

It tells you what to say, how to say it and who to say it to in order to make more sales. Because timing is critical, it will tell you when to say it, too.

A marketing plan explains how to put your strategy into action. It will set marketing budgets and deadlines, but it will also describe how you're going to talk to your target customers - whether that's through advertising, online through your website or social media, via offline networking and going to trade shows, through direct marketing, and so on. Choosing the right marketing method is vital to ensure you reach customers.

Crucially, it will also tell you when to talk to your customers. Timing your activities to fit their buying cycles will save money and maximise sales.

Finally, your marketing plan should look to the future: it should outline how you follow up sales and what you're doing to develop your offer.

As with any plan, progress should be regularly measured and reviewed to see what's working and what isn't, so you can set new targets as your market changes.