The Essential Contents Of A Marketing Plan

by Fran Piggott

Excerpt from On Target: The Book on Marketing Plans by Tim Berry and Doug Wilson

Every marketing plan has to fit the needs and situation. Even so, there are standard components you just can’t do without. A marketing plan should always have a situation analysis, marketing strategy, sales forecast, and expense budget.

  • Situation Analysis: Normally this will include a market analysis, a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), and a competitive analysis. The market analysis will include market forecast, segmentation, customer information, and market needs analysis.
  • Marketing Strategy: This should include at least a mission statement, objectives, and focused strategy including market segment focus and product positioning.
  • Sales Forecast: This would include enough detail to track sales month by month and follow up on plan-vs.-actual analysis. Normally a plan will also include specific sales by product, by region or market segment, by channels, by manager responsibilities, and other elements. The forecast alone is a bare minimum.
  • Expense Budget: This ought to include enough detail to track expenses month by month and follow up on plan-vs.-actual analysis. Normally a plan will also include specific sales tactics, programs, management responsibilities, promotion, and other elements. The expense budget is a bare minimum.

Are They Enough?

These minimum requirements above are not the ideal, just the minimum. In most cases you’ll begin a marketing plan with an Executive Summary, and you’ll also follow those essentials just described with a review of organizational impact, risks and contingencies, and pending issues.

Include a Specific Action Plan

You should also remember that planning is about the results, not the plan itself. A marketing plan must be measured by the results it produces. The implementation of your plan is much more important than its brilliant ideas or massive market research. You can influence implementation by building a plan full of specific, measurable and concrete plans that can be tracked and followed up. Plan-vs.-actual analysis is critical to the eventual results, and you should build it into your plan.

I’d love to have your input and questions … as I’m sure many others would, so let’s have your comments below.

Source: bplans.com

Solving A Problem Guarantees A Sale

by Fran Piggott

Word of mouth or a referral is a powerful way to grow your sales. This not only comes from satisfied customers but also because you’re considered an expert in your field.

Achieving this status comes down to how you solve your customers’ problems. You must understand and appreciate exactly what your customers need when they do business with you – even if they are not sure themselves! Once you know what your customer is ultimately wanting to accomplish, you lead him or her to the best solution to reach this outcome. In this way you become their trusted adviser and gain the recognition of an expert in your field.

For example, a man who goes into a hardware store to buy a power drill doesn’t really need a drill – he needs holes! He may think he needs a drill but here’s where you find out what he needs to drill holes for. Once you’ve established this outcome, it’s your responsibility to guide him in the best way to provide a solution for him ….. which may be better solved by not drilling holes! You have just become his trusted adviser and friend.

The value you provide to your customers and everyone you deal with, can be more rewarding than you ever realized. In this way, your customers keep coming back for more of your advice ….. and of course, buying more of your products.

I’d love to have your input and questions … as I’m sure many others would, so let’s have your comments below.

QUOTE OF THE DAY …

“Develop your assets. Your most valuable asset is your reputation ….. how you are known to your customers.”

How To Make Sure Your Product Or Service Is Not A Dud!

by Fran Piggott

One of the major reasons that a product fails is because whoever created it, didn’t fully understand what the product was really expected to do.

There are 8 cardinal rules to follow when creating or developing your products or services. (For the purposes of this article, terms ‘product’ and ’service’ will be used interchangeably). By knowing what the most common mistakes made by product creators are, you’ll be prevented from falling into the same traps.

Rule 1: Have the End Use In Mind Before Designing Your Product
A product should have a definite goal to achieve, a specific reason for its use. All components to reach this end or outcome must be in place before launching it.

Rule 2: Your Product Is a Promise
Successful products always provide a solution to a problem, they fulfill not only a need in the marketplace, but a buyer’s ‘want’. What benefit does your service give your customer? If you understand the underlying promise or emotion driving your product sales, you’ll have customers for generations.

Rule 3: Your Product is not a Solution Looking for a Problem
Don’t create a product and then search for a problem it can solve. Products solve existing problems. You want your product to be the most logical solution for a common, or not-so-common problem.

Rule 4: Recognize the Different, often Conflicting Emotions that Drive Sales
By limiting the concept of your product, you’ll fail to recognize other opportunities. For instance, pain relief can occur throughout your body, why restrict your product to one area?

Rule 5: Create Alternate Ways Your Product Can be Used
The greater number of uses, the greater your opportunity to sell. The more opportunities you present, the more usage occurs naturally increasing your sales.

Rule 6: Turn Your Product Weakness Into a Strength
Be aware of what the weakness is and redefine it as a strength. In his book, “Triggers”, Joe Sugarman mentions an air purifier he was asked to help market. He saw the same flaw as everyone else – an eyesore of something that looked like steel wool hanging from the top of the product which he redefined as ‘miracle fuzz’ that made the whole air purifier work. As a result, sales for this product were a great success.

Rule 7: Stick to Your Core Business
Don’t get distracted from your focus and direction. If you’ve done your market research correctly, remain focused on what you’re in business for. You’ll lose time, money and effort by going off in different directions like a headless chicken.

Rule 8: Keep an Open Mind to Other Opportunities
Don’t be so set on solving one problem that you ignore the fact they your product solves others along the way.

When creating products, always consider the lifetime value you are giving to generations of customers. Stay true to your brand by continuing to solve problems for your customers.

I’d love to have your input or questions … as I’m sure many others would, so let’s have your comments below.

QUOTE OF THE DAY …

“Be a problem detective. Look for customer problems that your product or service can solve.

Is Your Advertising Working For You?

by Fran Piggott

 

Great Newspaper Ads …
That Will Pull All The Customers You Will Ever Need!

Advertising is creating awareness of your product, service, company or idea to your target market – so that the marketplace knows what you offer and where they can find it.

Tips ….

To make advertising effective – track and monitor campaigns

  • Try out different adverts in various mediums
  • Advertise throughout the year
  • Always emphasize what makes your company different
  • Always sell the benefits of doing business with your company

All advertising MUST do one of two things ….

  • 1) Generate Sales
  • 2) Generate Sales Leads

………. and do so in a measurable, quantifiable way.

If you do either of these things, you’ll have no problem “getting your name out there” and you’ll also make money in the process.

But if you simply attempt to get your name out there, it’s very likely that you won’t generate sales NOR sales leads.

Another important tip …. make sure that the person writing your ad comes from a sales or marketing background …. NOT by someone with an English masters degree from an award winning agency …. Ads that win awards rarely generate sales and ads that sell, rarely win awards!

People don’t expect nearly enough from their advertising and they don’t hold it accountable for results. So they waste a stack of money …

Most companies also try to make their advertising do too much …. for example …….

When you’re advertising to generate sales leads, you must remember that all you’re really trying to do is get people to raise their hands and identify themselves as someone who has a problem – and tell you who they are. Anything beyond this dilutes the effectiveness of your ad.

So don’t make the mistake of telling them too much. The purpose of pure lead generation advertising is NOT for you to tell them all about yourself or your products and services – not in the first step anyway …. the purpose is for them to tell you who they are.

When you do this correctly, it’s simple, elegant and outrageously effective and most importantly, nobody feels like you’re chasing them.

Oh, and one more thing ….. everything you say in advertising must be very, very specific, including what you do and who you do it for.

If you’re busy being all things to all people ….. ie if you’ve got a huge list of things that you can do, you’re probably not going to sell anything to anybody. You must define a niche for yourself that’s reasonably unique. In fact even if you don’t have a niche, you need to invent one where it did not exist before!

And finally ….. FACTUAL advertising ALWAYS sells better than empty advertising. The market wants INFORMATION when they are looking for something … so give it to them in your Ad ….

Your potential customer wants to know … what your product, yes the one you have spent lots of time, money and effort developing, will do for him / her … is it the solution to his / her problem? Is it the answer to his / her question? Give him / her the specifics …. does it save money? time? how much? what is it? how does it work? Telling a story gives impact … ie was there an interesting discovery or reason that made this product possible?

ABOVE ALL GIVE THE MARKET WHAT IT WANTS NOT WHAT YOU THINK IT NEEDS!

Once you can afford it, it pays to employ an advertising agency to take over your whole marketing function.

I’d love to have your input or questions  … as I’m sure many others would, so let’s have your comments below.

QUOTE OF THE DAY …

“Achieve mega-credibility by backing your products and services with guarantees and assurances.”

Follow Your Passion & Stick To What You Know!

by Fran Piggott

Starting a business – offline or online – will NOT make millions overnight but it CAN over time with some hard work. This is why you need to create a business that you really love.

No matter how enticing an opportunity may appear to you now, if you don’t have a passion for it, you’ll lose interest in it, in the long term. Then either your business will suffer or you’ll continue to move from job to job.

It is not only essential to be passionate about your interest but you need to have an in-depth knowledge and expertise about it. You can always learn more about it, but you have to love it in order for the learning to be exciting rather than a mission to have to do.

As you spend two-thirds of your life at work, you need a job that you want to go to every day. So if this is not the case, then start thinking about things in life that get you really excited and transform them into a business or find another job.

I’d love to have your input or questions  … as I’m sure many others would, so let’s have your comments below.

QUOTE OF THE DAY ….

You are where you are today because of the actions you took for the choices you made!

Personal Development: A Goal to Reach For!

by Elliott Roberts

In our world of time crunches, we manage to find time to notice our children’s life patterns, the growing patterns of our plants and even the schedule and pattern of our next door neighbors, but we can not seem to find the time to notice our own personal patterns. Our personal development does not stop because we grow older. On the contrary, it should grow and expand as we become more wise.

Maintain a positive attitude. Greet each day with a smile and end each day with gratitude. Yes, life can be very challenging. A positive attitude cannot make the bad stuff go away, but it does change how you deal with it and help you find quicker resolve.

Achieving goals. Setting goals can work in a positive manner for your life in two ways. It can help you to recognize the goals you have set before you and feel a sense of accomplishment when those goals are completed. It is important to write down you goals in order to physically cross them off the list when they are done. This gives finality to the goal and a boost to your self esteem.

Recognizing you. A person who is self aware is a person who understands how life can be changed for the better. Self awareness is almost like an open window just screaming for you to look in and notice the areas that need improvement.

Time management is as important to the stay at home mom as to the CEO of a large corporation. Both positions carry too many responsibilities and unexpected tasks to be handled in a single day. Time management involves taking charge of your day and deciding what gets done and what can wait until tomorrow.

Time management leads us to balance. It is constant work to maintain balance between career and home, work and play, spouse and parent, etc. Plan more. Allow time for each role you play in life and stick to it.

Returning home. When you feel as though you have not focused enough on yourself, eating right, exercise and learning to treat yourself can mean all the world. These three parts of personal development will have the largest impact on YOU!

The time is now to change who you are from the personal you have become into the person you want to be. Personal development is all about making you feel better and thus affecting those around you.

About The Author: Elliott Roberts writes for Becomng, a Self Improvement blog, covering topics ranging from Productivity to Meditation, plus others. Read Becomng, and evolve your life!

What To Do When You’re Laid Off

In today’s economy, numerous workers are being faced with forced time off due to layoffs and cutbacks. Millions of people have already taken a cut in pay or shorter work weeks, and even more have been laid off entirely. This can present a bleak future for many, since that reduction in pay can make it difficult for them to take care of mortgages and other bills. Finding a way out can be hard to do.

However, there are ways to utilize this time effectively. Even while you are looking for another job, you can take this opportunity to spend some time on you, something that you probably have been putting off for months, even years. Find the silver lining in your situation, and you may find that you come out of these tough economic circumstances with more possibilities and success than you had ever imagined.

Listen to the Experts

Whether you are a self help devotee or have never given much credence to the self help world, now may be the time to take a look through one or two (dozen) books to see if there is one that can help you. Spend some time at your local supersize bargain bookstore flipping through self help books. Or, for a budget-friendly strategy, brush off your library card and borrow a few promising titles at a time. You can skim these in the comfort of your own home and not feel bad about wasting money if they aren’t right for you.

Another thing to consider is the realm of motivational speaking, and there are numerous speakers from which to choose. Many people have turned to the big names such as Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins, and Wallace Wattles for philosophies that mesh with their own. Oprah helped to spark the popularity of another series called The Secret, and the video and book have been a source of motivation for many. In the series, the Law of Attraction is discussed, which boils down to identifying what you want and then acting as if it will come true. It focuses on the one thing that everyone can use regardless of their situation ” the power of positive thought.

Get to Work

Once you have found your motivation through self help series and other means, it is now a good time to get started working on your goals. There may be some work ahead of you, so be prepared. If you are willing to be creative, you will find that there are always income opportunities to be found, regardless of the economic climate. If you want to remain in your industry, look for jobs that will allow you to keep your current skills in practice or learn supplementary ones. A part-time job can allow you to bring in some income while keeping your knowledge fresh. You can also look more closely at the hobbies that you have. An online business could allow you to tap into the hidden realm of self employment. It can also give you an idea for other jobs in your skill set that are in high demand.

When faced with forced time off, one of the best things that you can do is to get creative. With creativity, motivation, and a little hard work, you can find real income opportunities that will work for you.

About the Author:

Learn A Confidential Traffic Secret

Success in getting your website to work  depends on learning how to generate a lot of traffic to your site. Without a lot of traffic, you won’t have much success.

Learning about traffic generation is in essence what internet marketing is.  Sales copy comes after that.  There are various ways to generate traffic to your site.

Many will tell you to start PPC.  In PPC, you pay for getting targeted traffic from the search engines. But over the years, keywords on PPC have become very expensive.  One simple click can cost you $1 or more for a particular keyword. You can’t compete against the big players with deep pockets involved in PPC.

Paying for traffic that does not convert well is a sure recipe for failure. You will start looking for ways to get free traffic. You will think of how to get a lot of targeted traffic for free.  Only a page one position for your site on the search engine can give you that.

You will want to learn search engine optimization (SEO).  But here again you are competing with big players with lots of experience and deep pockets.

There is a sort of entry barrier for newbies in internet marketing. Nobody will ever tell you that it is almost impossible to get your new website ranked high on Google.  Google takes the age of a website into account before it starts giving the site importance.

A few page sites don’t count with Google.  Google likes authority sites! Your site should have many pages and thousands of backlinks before Google will position it on its search pages.

What to do? Can’t compete with big players? ….. You can learn to use the authority sites to get traffic for your site.

EzineArticles is considered to be an authority site by Google. You can submit articles to it. These articles can get targeted traffic to your site as well as quality backlinks that count with Google.

You can use many article directories, forums, blogs and social bookmarking sites to get traffic to your site and quality backlinks.

Learning how to get free traffic is not an easy thing. Lot of work is involved. But if you can learn it, you’re on your way to making a lot of money.

About the Author:

Master Data Management (MDM) Tips and Strategies

Master Data Management is one of the hottest buzz words in data management circles. The ideas aren’t new, but the combined concepts are now being refined and studied under this new category of data management. Master Data Management, also called MDM, contains all of the data that is considered the most important for the business. For most organizations, that is customer or transactional data.

MDM should make your life easier. You should be able to find old customer orders, review historical trends, and contact old clients easily because of the work that has gone into organizing your data.

As a company grows, so does its data files, and if it is not managed well, this can explode in a plethora of separate files that do not interconnect at all. This means that the accounting department has its own customer base, while the customer service department has a different list, and yet they service the same clients.

When a company experiences tremendous growth, data storage and systems often is an afterthought. This might work for a little while, but it will cause great problems as the growth continues. If sales are growing at a rapid clip, often times sales will want their own system for tracking them. Likewise, because of the furious business activity, accounting will want its own system. Often times, each system is selected independently.

After a couple of months, you decide on software for computing payroll and taxes, and then after a year, your partner also decides to buy an application for machine maintenance and logistics. Now your company has four different, large, data files.

MDM is not a magic solution, but it can help you wrap your head around all of the many systems and data make them work better together. It will help provide solid documentation and organization, something that rapid growing organizations usually lack.

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4 Marketing Steps To Sell Your Ebook

Your ebook is written and ready to be downloaded. Then you ask, what now? The next and perhaps one of the most important steps that follows is marketing your ebook effectively. The better your marketing strategy, the more sales you are likely to have.

Step 1. Prepare a Convincing Sales Letter

A good ebook should be marketed with an equally good and compelling sales letter. It would be an utter waste of your time and effort if your ebook fails to take off despite its high quality, simply because of a poorly worded sales letter.

Learning from other sales letters is the best way to make a convincing one yourself. If you’ve had the experience of buying a book online, you can perhaps recall what particular points in the sales pitch persuaded you to make that purchase. Then use these same arguments to come up with your own sales letter.

Step 2. Offer a Free Sample

There is nothing people like more than getting something for free! However, you don’t want to just give something away without having some marketing tricks up your sleeve. A great tactic is to give away a free sample chapter of your ebook (that contains very valuable information) and cut it off at a key point. You can think of this as being a cliffhanger like you’d see on TV.

With this strategy, you will be creating a win-win situation. You win because you would have gotten their names and email, which is required for them to get their free chapter. At the same time, they win because they a free chapter of your ebook, and will perhaps be convinced to get the whole ebook.

Tip #3: Create Scarcity

With the myriad of things that need to be done day in and day out, most customers would put off buying an ebook over more pressing tasks. In the end, some of them may never get to follow through on that plan.

A good strategy around this would be to create a sort of scarcity, making sure to mention this in your sales letter. You could just be releasing a few copies, publishing it for a limited time, or on the brink of a price increase. However way you put it; this could definitely get some prospective buyers to act faster.

Tip 4. Be an Expert in Your Chosen Field

It is no secret that if people want to know more about a certain topic or want to find a solution to a specific problem, they would go to an authority in that field. Create a blog, join discussion groups, and look for online communities that are exclusive to this field. By building up your expertise and your name in that area, people would look up to you and see in you a credible author.

Once you’ve established your expertise in your area, people will trust you enough to purchase your ebook, ringing in steady sales.

These are the four important tips to keep in mind when establishing an effective marketing strategy. Success will not come overnight but when it does, it will make every ounce of your effort worthwhile.

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